Having eliminated the last among the list of 12 most wanted terrorists, Zakir Musa, the chief of Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, a group affiliated with Al Qaeda, the security forces have prepared a hit list of 10 top Pakistani and Kashmiri terrorists for whom a hunt has been launched in the hinterland of the Kashmir valley.
The A++ category Riyaz Naikoo, commander of Hizbul Mujahideen (HM), tops the list of the targets of the security forces. He belongs to the Bandipura district of North Kashmir.
Home Minister Amit Shah has held a series of meetings with top officers of his ministry, Security Advisor Ajeet Doval and the top brass of intelligence agencies to discuss the strategy to tackle terrorism in Kashmir.
Naikoo is followed by Wasim Ahmad alias Osama of Shopian district of South Kashmir. He is the district commander of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).
The security forces have launched “Terrorism free Kashmir” operation in the valley and have killed more than 108 terrorists, 25 of them Pakistan nationals so far during the current year.
The fresh list includes terrorists from HM, LeT, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Al-Badr. One of these terrorists was reportedly trained in the camp at Balakot that was recently bombed by the IAF and the other has fought against the NATO forces in Afghanistan.
An HM terrorist, Mohammad Ashraf Khan alias Ashram Moulvi, has been put at number 3 in the list and is active in South Kashmir’s Anantnag. Another HM district commander Mehrazuddin is active in Baramulla.
He is followed in the list by Saifulla Mir of Srinagar who is active in motivating the Kashmiri youth to join terrorism. Another HM district commander of Pulwama, Arshad-ul-Haq, belonging to the top A++ category is at number 6 in the list.
Pakistani terrorist Hafiz Omar is at No 7. He is reported to have sneaked into the Indian side after taking training in Balakot training camp. Currently, he is JeM chief operational commander.
At number 8 is the dreaded JeM terrorist Zahid Sheikh, also known as Omar Afghani. He reportedly has experience in fighting against NATO forces in Afghanistan. He sneaked into the Valley after taking Taliban training, security agencies say.
Al-Badr top commander Javed Mattoo, also known as Faisal, is at the 9th spot in the list. He is said to be active in north Kashmir and is reportedly active as a divisional commander in the area.
HM terrorist Aizaz Malik is also in the target list. He is active in Kupwara and is operating as district commander in the area.
The security forces were worried over the issue of about 50 Kashmiri youth reportedly joining terrorism. Efforts were being made to dissuade fresh recruits in militancy. At least six terrorists have during the past few days surrendered and reunited with their parents.
Another worrying factor was the appearance of youth at Srinagar’s Jama Masjid carrying pictures of Pakistan based banned top terrorist Masood Azhar and raising slogans in favour of terrorist Zakir Musa who was killed in an encounter on 23 May.