Police says 14 militants in the newly released group photo is a ‘leaderless troupe’

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A group photograph released by militants earlier this week comprising of 14 young men have been called a ‘leaderless troupe’ by a senior police officer.

The Jammu and Kashmir police are currently in the process of identifying them, reported the Hindustan Times.

The group photo comes a week after Hizbul Mujahideen shared individual pictures of 18 young men holding guns on the second death anniversary of Burhan Wani, which was on July 8.

Two months ago, last of the active militants who had been recognized in the photo alongside Burhan Wani had been killed. Now, the current photo has been released by the militants and is being widely shared on social media. The background seems to be in a forest or orchard area.

It is suspected that the men in the photo have been newly inducted. One of the faces in the picture matches with Shams ul Haq Mengnoo, who was given the code name of ‘Burhan, the Second’ by Hizbul Mujahideen.

Shams Ul Haq is the brother of an Indian Police Service officer posted in the Northeast. He went missing from his home on May 22. Police have confirmed his movement with militants.

“We have come across the picture. There are 14 faces and we are identifying the people. Many times militants have also used old pictures,” a senior police officer dealing with anti-militancy operations said.

“Even if the group is new, it can in no way be seen as a comeback of militancy. It is a leaderless troupe. The militants have suffered heavily and the terror initiated violence has come down. They have made isolated attacks on lone security personnel or indulged in grenade attacks,” he added.

The picture also includes Irfan Rashid Dar, a 22-year-old Special Police Officer (SPO) from Pulwama who went missing along with his service rifle on June 26 and those of two youth from Awantipora, Tawseef Ahmad Thokar, an MSc in Mathematics and Adfar Fayaz, Zahoor Ahmed Mir, a Kupwara resident, and a surrendered militant returned to militancy one and a half months ago, and two others from Handwara – Furkan Rashid Lone and Abdul Gani Khwaja.

According to officials, in 2018, 75-80 young men have joined militancy this year while security forces have killed 102 militants in encounters. In 2017, 78 militants out of 213 were killed in south Kashmir.

SP Pani, Inspector General of Police said they were attempting to foil new recruitments.

“Our operational grid is intact, we are taking care of the environmental conditions so that the recruitment is adroitly blunted,” he stated.

Burhan Wani with his two associates was killed in Bamdoora area of Kokernag on July 8, 2016. His killing brought the entire Kashmir to a standstill.

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