As the Jammu and Kashmir Police continue the hunt for terrorists who killed three security officers on September 13, the focus is on a local Lashkar e Tayyaba (LeT) hand Mohammad Uzair Khan, who remains trapped in the Kokernag area of Anantnag district.
A resident of Nagam Kokernag, Mohammad Uzair Khan, son of Bashir Ahmad Khan, reportedly joined the LeT ranks in July 2022.
Out of the 81 active terrorists in Kashmir, the largest numbers belong to the LeT at 48, followed by 19 of Jaish e Mohammed, Hizbul Mujahideen's 12 and two Al Badr terrorists.
The growing influence of the LeT, which is actively recruiting locals and sending its foot soldiers from launch pads in PoK, remains a matter of concern for security forces. Uzair wasn’t one of the A-listed terror operatives who was on the most wanted list. He was included in the C category of militants who were newly recruited and assisted their operational commanders.
This gives security officials reason to believe that the deadly attack was the handiwork of a potent module with handlers based across the border.
The active 81 terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir include 48 foreign terrorists from Pakistan and 33 locals, as per the latest figures with the police. The largest number of active terrorists is in South Kashmir, 56, which includes 28 foreign and local terrorists. They operate from districts such as Anantnag, Pulwama, Shopian and Kulgam which remain terror hotbeds in the Valley.
In north Kashmir, there are 16 active terrorists, out of which 13 are foreigners and operate in Baramulla, Kupwara and Bandipora. Nine terrorists are active in central Kashmir, comprising Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal, of which seven have come from across the border. These figures, as of August 2 this year, reveal the cross-border terror machinery still active in Kashmir not only trying to recruit and radicalise youth but also carrying out attacks to unleash terror.
At least ten prominent handlers of terrorist outfits like LeT, JeM and HM are on the most wanted list of security forces and actively planning terror strikes from across the border. These include Pakistan-based Saifullah Sajid Jutt, an LeT and People’s Anti-Fascist Front (PAFF) handler. PAFF is a proxy outfit recently banned by the government for using both physical and social media platforms to radicalise and recruit terrorists in the Valley.
The list also include TRF chief Sheikh Sajad Gull from Srinagar, Hizbul handler Mushtaq Ahmad Zarga along with LeT’s Hashir Rafiq Parray and Mohammad Jameel Sheergojar (Bandipora), Mohammad Umer Mir and Bilal Ahmad Mir (Sopore) and Arbaz Ahmed Mir the LeT commander in Kulgam. JeM’s Ashiq Negroo and Al Badr’s Burhan Hamza from Pulawama were learnt to have fled to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) from where they planned terror operations.
These handlers, as per intelligence inputs, are actively operating alongside at least five foreign terrorists in Kashmir – LeT operational commanders Abu Zargam, Abu Hurraira, Khalid, Umer and JeM’s Moosa Sulaimani – all hailing from Pakistan.
At the same time, the hunt for locals continues with three making it to the A list. They are Riyaz Ahmad Dar from Pulwama, Kulgam resident Basit Ahmad Dar, an alleged TRF operational chief operating in Kashmir valley and Farooq Ahmad Bhat who is actively undertaking terrorist activities on behalf of Hizbul Mujahideen.
Meanwhile, the desperate hunt for foot soldiers like Uzair continues as Pak-based terror outfits prepare for a cold and bloody winter in Kashmir where nearly 600 terrorists got neutralised in the last three years -- bringing the terror graph to an all-time low.