Srinagar: On July 8, 2016, Burhan Muzaffar Wani, the 21-year-old ‘poster boy’ of new wave of Kashmir militancy was gunned in Anantnag’s Kokernag area.
More than a year later, top Laskar-e-Taiba commander Waseem Shah was killed in Pulwama on Saturday. Between the encounters of Wani and Shah lies the success of Indian armed forces.
For Wani and Shah were part of the group photo that went viral in 2015. The photo of 11 young terrorists in army fatigue not only rattled the security forces but also became hugely popular among the youth of Kashmir.
Seen as a propaganda attempt, Burhan Wani and his terror gang not only impressed the young minds but swayed the mood in the Valley in their favour.
But the Anantnag encounter changed the narrative and thus began the story that led security forces to neutralise one terrorist after another.
Despite the clashes and tension following Burhan Wani killing, the security forces were successful in making the impact.
But the 2015 photo may have helped the security forces. Before Burhan Wani, Adil Ahmad Khanday, Afaaqullah Bhat and Waseem Malla were killed in 2015 itself. Another major blow that year was surrender of Tariq Ahmad Pandit. In 2016, Burhan Wani was killed in Anantnag. Others who were eliminated include Ishfaq Hameed and Naseer Ahmad Pandit.
This year, the biggest success was encounter of Sabzar Ahmad Bhat. Today’s encounter in Pulwama killed Waseem Shah, who had switched sides from Hizbul to Lashkar. Local information also suggests that Anees has also been killed.
The only surviving member of the original Burhan Wani gang is Saddam Paddar.
Apart from these, other major successes this year include Lashkar chief Abu Dujana, Jaish-e-Mohammed’s operational chief Abu Khalid among others.
But the biggest headache of the security agencies remains Zakir Musa, chief of Al Qaeda-linked New Jihadist group ‘Ansar Ghazwat-Ul-Hind. The former top commander of Hizbul Mujahideen has not only distanced himself from the pro-Pakistan group, but is also seen and heard talking about establishing Sharia rule in Kashmir.