Recast Harkat-ul-Ansar Stoking Anti-India Sentiments In Kashmir

Recast Harkat-ul-Ansar Stoking Anti-India Sentiments In Kashmir

25 March 2013
Times of India
Deeptiman Tiwary

New Delhi: Even as Kashmir has seen four attacks on security forces within just over a month - the latest being the Sunday strike on policemen at Sopore - security agencies believe it's not just Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM) that they need to worry about. Inputs suggest that several defunct terror groups have been revived in the recent past to take advantage of the belligerent mood in the Valley after the hanging of Parliament attack case convict Afzal Guru in early February. The chief among them is Harkat-ul-Ansar, which agencies believe has been revived under a different name and is constantly trying to push recruits across the border to execute attacks. Intelligence agencies have learnt that Harkat-ul-Ansar - disbanded after the 1997 US ban and subsequent arrest, release (in IC814 hijacking incident) and exit of Maulana Masood Azhar (now with Jaish-e-Mohammed) - has been revived and recast as Jabbar-ul-Mujahideen. The development reportedly took place after a meeting in Lahore last July where Shahchand Khan was appointed the group's commander-in-chief. Sources say, along with LeT and HM, Harkat-ul-Ansar too is making efforts to regain foothold in the Valley and use the hostile mood in Kashmir to re-establish its relevance. The revival bodes ill for the Valley which had seen a prolonged period of peace until Guru was hanged and sources suggest more attacks, like the one in Sopore, could ensue with several groups fighting for the same space. More worryingly, the group is believed to have close links with the Haqqani network - a resilient terror group having close links with Taliban and Pakistan's ISI and operational against US forces on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. With US forces retreating and fears of the Afghan terror cauldron spilling into Kashmir, this link is worrisome. Already the Valley has seen four attacks on security forces since Guru was hanged in February. While in the first attack two policemen were shot dead by militants in Handwara, in the second suspected LeT militants attacked a CRPF camp in Srinagar killing five security personnel. The third attack was on a convoy of BSF leading to one jawan's death while the fourth one was witnessed in Sopore claiming a civilian's life and a policeman sustained critical injuries. The sudden spurt in violence underscores the frantic efforts being made from across the border to stoke militancy in the Valley, say sources. 'As yet there is no evidence of locals supporting the militants in a big way or participating in their activities. But if situation is not brought under control, things could turn the wrong way,' said an official.