The misuse of internet by terror groups and separatist forces in the Kashmir valley to fuel anti-India feelings and help terrorists in either coordinating an attack or escaping after it, has become the latest headache for the security forces who have asked the government to suspend internet services in certain parts of the valley till the situation improves and the terrorists, who are holed up in the mountains of South Kashmir, are neutralised.
As per a report prepared by the intelligence agencies and submitted to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), there is an immediate need to stop, in whatever way possible, the misuse of the internet in the valley.
The report accessed by The Sunday Guardian mentions that there are close to 250-300 WhatsApp groups that act as a meeting point for stone pelters and terrorists. It is through these groups that the stone pelters are asked to assemble at a pre-designated place or directed to reach a particular spot where an encounter is going on to make sure that the security forces are unable to neutralise the terrorists. “In the last two weeks, we have seen two instances where the terrorists have escaped because some locals had formed a human shield around them. This is something we cannot let happen every time and ultimately, we will be forced to disregard the collateral damage aspect,” a senior government official said.
According to information gathered by the agencies, there are at least 50 lakh Facebook accounts that are being operated by the locals, out of which one-third are fake. These accounts are being used to propagate and encourage separatist sentiments in the valley, on the lines of Muslims being “persecuted” by “Hindu India”.
“We are virtually helpless when it comes to the misuse of the social media by these terror groups. Mass scale mobilisation is being done when it comes to disrupting anti-terror operations, by asking the locals to assemble at an encounter site. This leads to the terrorists escaping or collateral damage in cross firing,” an official said.
The Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and Hizbul Mujajideen, the two most active terror groups in the valley, are now recruiting more and more locals to give the message to the international community that it is a “war” that is being waged by the locals, rather than a war that is being instigated by Pakistan. “In the last three months, 98 locals have joined these terror groups, raising the total number of terrorists in the valley to 258, out of which 130 are locals and 128 Pakistani nationals. Hizbul has 95, Lashkar 136 and Jaish-e-Mohammad has 23 cadre in its groups active in the valley,” the official, quoting the report, said.
Here is some of the “advice”, shared on a WhatsApp group. Grammar has not been changed:
“Advice to supporters of Dawlah (state) who are on the ground in Kashmir, and are present at the clashes against the Enemies of Islam.”
“The group should take appropriate measures to become disciplined as though you are an organised sarayah ready for battle, this can include from religious duties that are required by each and every Muslim, to security precautions to maintain protection for the group, to training for jihad which we will provide tutorials, Insha Allah.”
“Assign an ameer among your group who can undertake duties to oversee, maintain discipline, encourage/ motivate the group, assign roles, strengthen any weaknesses and utilise skills of any individual group members. The ameer mustn’t be laxed nor very harsh; rather he should have great/ exceptional leadership characteristics from the whole group and be able to adapt to and handle any or most situations that arise.”
“Assign tasks within your group. These can range from specific duties such as Mujahid’s who fight with weapons (which we will discuss later).”
Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and Hizbul Mujajideen, the two most active terror groups in the valley, are now recruiting more and more locals to give the message to the international community that it is a ‘war’ waged by the locals, rather than a war instigated by Pakistan.
“Media man(s) who takes photos or videos of the attack (make sure to blur faces of fellow brothers) and propagate the media to be spread on social media to increase awareness. (If there are enough brothers, they can also spread and distribute media releases by Dawlah to people among the crowds etc).”
“Medical man, someone(s) who possess the relevant supplies for dealing with injuries etc and has knowledge on first aid and basic treatment of injuries.”
“Scout(s), who assess the battlefield before and during the attack to report back to the ameer the events and movements of the enemy, the scout should have exceptional knowledge of the area as well attention to detail of the behaviour/ morale/ movements of the enemy.”
“Financial, a trustworthy brother(s) who can raise funds without raising attention to gain supplies needed for every battle.”
“Flag bearer(s) those who are amongst the crowd yet bear the flag of the KHILAFAH. The more flags there are the more of an effect it will have upon the ikhwah and even among the crowd, Insha Allah. They can be throughout the whole clash or appear at a certain time to increase morale and boost the momentum of the attack, they should also have a portable megaphone(s) to incite the crowds and the ikhwah.”