The Resistance Front, which announced its arrival on October 12, 2019, online via encrypted chat platform Telegram, is once again in the spotlight after killing five innocent civilians, including four members of minority communities, in Kashmir last week.
TRF had appeared at the scene just two months after New Delhi announced its decision to abrogate J&K's special status and divided it into two union territories. TRF claimed that it's an indigenous outfit but when it appeared on the scene at that point of time there was no Internet in Kashmir due to restrictions imposed by the government.
The Pakistan connection was clearly visible as the Internet was accessible there and the security agencies could easily make out that the TRF is a shadow of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) invented to cover the old actors of Pakistan- sponsored militancy in the Valley and to provide an indigenous identity to outsourced violence.
Pakistan even today is under scrutiny of the Financial Action Task Force for its support to UN-designated terror outfits like the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad, etc. These Pakistan-based militant organisations have mostly avoided taking responsibility for attacks since the emergence of the TRF.
TRF's first known activity was a grenade attack on October 12, 2019 that injured eight civilians in Hari Singh High Street.
In February 2020, the TRF owned a grenade attack in the busy Lal Chowk area of Srinagar. In the attack four civilians and two Central Reserve Police Force personnel sustained injuries.
After the attack J&K Police scanned the CCTV footage to identify a Pulwama youth who was earlier picked up for his links to JeM. The police arrested three youth Shakeel Ahmad Band, Naveed-ul Lateef Padroo of Pulwama and Shamshad Manzoor of the Shopian district in connection with the attack.
In the same month the TRF emerged again and claimed that its cadres were engaged in a gunfight with soldiers at Handwara in North Kashmir. However, the J&K Police debunked the TRF claims saying the terror outfit is a shadow front of the LeT. Inspector General of Police Kashmir said that one of the two militants killed in the gunfight was a Pakistani citizen named Haider, the head of Lashkar-e- Taiba in Kashmir.
The militant group struck again in Wangam in Handwara area and killed three CRPF personnel in the same month, again the TRF owned the attack. The outfit within a span of a few months started dominating terror actions in Kashmir.
The TRF name also emerged in April 2020 during the Keran encounter, a difficult operation spanning over five days. The infiltration happened on April 1, with five heavily armed ultras being eliminated. The operation Rangdouri Behak ended with five Army troops also losing their lives.
At least three of the militants killed were identified as locals travelling to Pakistan on valid Pakistani visas through the Wagah-Attari border. Instead of exfiltrating, the three chose the legal route. The trio had been missing since the year 2018 when they crossed over for weapon's training. The ultras killed in the Keran encounter were identified as Sajjad Ahmed Hurrah, Adil Hussain Mir and Umar Naik (1). TRF militants enter Srinagar, 8 killed; hunt on.
Till the recent past the TRF militants were confined to hinterland only but they appeared in Srinagar to recreate a situation like 1990 by terrorising the minorities and targeting locals. They entered Srinagar city and went on killing spree on October 5 and 6. They committed four cold blooded murders in J&K's summer capital, the victims included a Kashmiri Pandit Makhan Lal Bindroo, a prominent chemist; street vendor Virendar Paswan of Bihar, and two teachers, Supinder Kaur and her colleague, Deepak Chand. Another killing of a civilian, a transporter, Mohammad Shafi, was carried out in North Kashmir's Bandipora district. The murders rattled the entire Valley. And it looked like 1990 had returned. But the swift response of the security forces has broken the back of TRF, in the past few days, 8 militants have been neutralised in different encounters across Kashmir and hunt is on to clean Kashmir.
Soon after the J&K Police and other security forces launched a counter offensive to get the TRF militants, an ultra identified as Aqib Bashir Kumar of Trenz Shopian affiliated with Lashkar-e-Taiba, was killed in an encounter at Natipora in Srinagar city on October 8. (2)
On October 11, two militants were killed in separate gunfights in Bandipora and Anantnag districts of Kashmir. A militant, Imtiyaz Ahmad Dar, affiliated with LeT (TRF) was killed in a gunfight with the troops at Gund Jehangir village in north Kashmir's Bandipora district. The J&K Police said that the slain militant was the main accused in killing of a civilian, transporter, Mohammad Shafi alias Sonu at Shahgund in the same district on October 5. (3)
Dar, according to police, had joined militant ranks after the police unearthed the module involved in planning and executing the killing.
In another chance encounter a militant was killed in south Kashmir's Anantnag district on October 11. Police had said that a party had gone to arrest one militant aide Javid Ahmad Bhat son of Ali Mohammad Bhat of Khahgund Dooru. "While the police party were laying cordon around the house, the hiding (militants) fired indiscriminately upon the police party which retaliated. In this chance encounter one unidentified (militant) was killed," police said.
On October 12, security forces gunned down five Lashkar-e-Taiba militants, one of them claimed to be involved in the killing of a non-local street hawker, Virender
Paswan, at Lal Bazar in Srinagar, were killed in two separate encounters in south Kashmir's Shopian district.
Three LeT militants identified as Danish Hussain Dar of Ray Kapren Shopian, Yawar Hussain Naikoo of Pahlipora and Mukhtar Ahmed Shah of Sindbal Ganderbal were killed in an encounter at Tulran village.
"As per police records, the killed (militants) were linked with LeT (TRF) and remained part of groups involved in several cases including attacks on security establishments and civilians," police said.
It said that Mukhtar Shah was involved in target killing of a non-local vendor in Lal Bazar area of Srinagar and shifted to Shopian after (it).
In another operation at Feeripora Shopian two militants identified as Ubaid Ahmad Dar of Ray Kapren and Khubaib Ahmad Nengroo of Braripora were killed. Both the militants, according to the police, were linked with LeT and involved in several cases. (4)
On October 13, the top most Jaish militant was killed in a gunfight with a joint team of police and army in Tral area of south Kashmir's Pulwama district. The slain militant was identified as Shamus-ud-Din Sofi alias Sham Sofi, a top commander of JeM.
As per police records, the killed (militant) was categorised and active since June- 2019 figuring among the list of most wanted (militant) operating in the Valley.
The police said that he was also part of groups involved in several cases, including attacks on security establishments and civilians. Sofi was first arrested in 2004 and detained under PSA. He was also involved in providing logistic support, shelter to the active (militants) operating in the Tral area before joining (militant) folds. Moreover, he was also involved in motivating local youth to join (militant) folds, reviving the (militant) folds in Tral area and conspiring to destabilize the system by means of various acts, the police said, adding that he was also involved in threatening the law abiding citizens and policemen also (5).
TRF, LeT out to destroy Kashmir
The plan of militants and their handlers is quite clear. They want to push back Kashmir into oblivion again by terrorising a common man. Militant handlers sitting across the Line of Control (LoC) are unable to digest that Kashmiris haven't reacted at all after the abrogation of J&K's special status and have endorsed the change in status-quo. Street protests, stone-pelting and other acts aimed at disrupting the normal life in Kashmir have become a history. Tourists have been arriving in hordes and the nightlife is back.
People have even forgotten the names of a handful of separatist leaders, who used to wait for a chance to throw life out of gear in the Valley. When Hurriyat hawk, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, passed away in September this year, Pakistan made desperate attempts to provoke people, but the Kashmiris didn't react.
After failing at all the fronts, the terror bosses sitting across the LoC have instructed the gun wielding ultras to terrorise the people so that fear of guns which has disappeared returns and Kashmir is pushed on back foot again.
After the abrogation of J&K's special status and its complete merger with the Union of India, the newly carved out union territory has witnessed a massive development on all the fronts, people are happy and have become a part of the process to rebuild J&K. But the militants and their handlers are unable to digest it and are desperate to push J&K into the turmoil again. However, this time around they won't succeed as the foundation to build Naya J&K has already been laid and people are no more interested in their propaganda. They have realised that the so- called "Azadi" is an illusion and neither Pakistan nor militants are their friends.