Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir Police has filed an FIR against unknown people in connection with a “hit list” of 62 people, believed to have been released by a militant outfit earlier last week, said a police statement Thursday.
The hit list comprises political workers, panches, sarpanches, teachers, tailors, government employees and other civilians, who, the militant group believes, work for security forces, said the statement.
According to senior police officials who didn’t wish to be named, the hit list was issued on social media by accounts linked with the militant outfit The Resistance Front (TRF), but the force is yet to ascertain whether it was released by the insurgent group or by other mischievous elements seeking to settle personal rivalries.
However, the police has filed an FIR in connection with the hit list and a thorough probe is on now.
In the statement, the police said the list was uploaded with the help of “cyber OGW’s”, a first-of-its-kind reference to ‘overground workers’ who essentially act as a logistical support system for militant groups by serving as eyes and ears for insurgents and providing them with accommodation, food and even transportation.
“On 29th August and 2nd of September 2020, militant leaders acting under instruction from across, conspired with some of their overground associates and other anti social elements and prepared hit lists containing names and details of civilians, activists, political workers and security force personnel,” the police said.
“Such hit lists were uploaded, and with the help of cyber OGWs, these were circulated widely apparently with two motives: Use it as a direction to other terrorists operating elsewhere and their associates to target these persons and also to terrorise civilians, government employees and security personnel from serving the public honestly and sincerely because that would mean restoration and victory of peace and prosperity and defeat of fear, violence and lawlessness which the terrorists and secessionist represent,” the police added.
Criminal probe is on
The 62 people on the list have also been categorised as A+, A, B and C. This categorisation is similar to how the J&K police slots insurgents based on the level of their involvement in militants activities.
The J&K Police said a “full fledged criminal investigation backed by technical teams has been initiated”.
“…efforts are afoot to identify both the original offenders who created the content as well as others who are allowing their connections and accounts to maintain the communication systems of the terrorist networks,” the statement said.
It added that in the event of harm coming to any of the persons in the list, persons propagating the list by way of forwarding or copying and reposting shall be equally liable variously for murder, grievous injuries, kidnapping and criminal intimidation.
“What is interesting is that a major chunk of names mentioned in the so-called hit list are residents of North Kashmir where the militancy is more challenging that other parts of the Valley,” a senior police officer told ThePrint on condition of anonymity.
“This is because of the presence of well-trained Pakistani militants as well as local militants who are trained, better equipped than their counterparts elsewhere in Kashmir. They are also part of receiving parties that receive foreign infiltrating militants,” he said.
The militant threat
This year has witnessed several killings of political workers and sarpanches in Jammu and Kashmir.
The most prominent case was of BJP leader Wasim Bari, who was killed in Bandipora in July along with his father and brother, both of whom were BJP members as well.
A Congress leader was killed in June too. Many other leaders have expressed fears over the constant threat to their lives in the last few months.
In August, an Army personnel identified as Shakir Manzoor was also abducted. Subsequently, an audio released said that he had been killed and buried. The militants added that his body will not be returned in what is seen as a reaction to the J&K Police’s decision to not return the bodies of local slain militants to their families citing the pandemic.
Earlier this month, a partially decomposed body of a panch, who went missing on 19 August, was found in Shopian district. Two days after he went missing, an audio believed to be released by militants claimed that they had killed the panch and won’t return the body due to Covid.