It appears that 22-year-old Zakir Rashid Bhat is the new face of terror in the Valley following the death of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani on July 8.
According to reports, Zakir was a civil engineering student in Chandigarh before he went back to Noorpura in Pulwama in 2013 and took to terrorism.
He posted an 8-minute-long video on social media in which he exhorted the people of Kashmir to carry on the violent agitation which began with the killing of Wani.
Speaking in Urdu, Zakir says, “We all know how the martyrdom of our three brothers has brought movement to a new point. Now we need to support this struggle and take it to its logical conclusion.”
The video was reportedly mailed to local Kashmiri media and was widely shared on WhatsApp.
With the video Zakir clearly points to what Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin said in an interview; that the Kashmiri case is not for “azaadi” (as the secular-liberal sympathisers in India believe) but about Islam.
He says in his speech that he is “neither a commander nor the chief of any outfit but a soldier of Allah”. He says that the “hartals and protests should continue and whosoever calls off the strike, it should not be allowed as we are only the followers of Allah”.
What makes Zakir’s call against India particularly distinct from Wani’s is that the former has now openly threatened the local Kashmiri populace who join the J&K police force.
He warns them to stay away from the special police officers (SPOs) recruitment drives drawing parallels with the dreaded ‘Ikhwan’.
The Ikhwan, also called ‘Naabedh’ by the locals was a counter-insurgency force formed in the mid-nineties composed mainly of surrendered terrorists.
“Every brother should remain away from this. Whosoever takes part in this drive will be responsible himself,” he warns.