With security forces increasingly using communication tools to trace ultras, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen outfit has reportedly asked its cadres not to use cell phones, that over the years have proved fatal for militants operating in Kashmir.
A local newspaper reported that Riyaz Naikoo, operational commander of indigenous Hizbul has asked militants of the outfit to surrender their cell phones citing many instances in which security forces used these devices to track them.
Quoting some social media pages, the newspaper reported that surrendering process has already started and it will take few days to complete.
Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir, Muneer Khan said they don’t have any authentic confirmation about it but police was trying to verify the reports. Earlier, it was reported that Hizbul wanted Naikoo to use the social networking sites to galvanise support for militancy in Kashmir but it seems he has realised the perils of technology.
The development comes in the backdrop of reports that security forces have increased online surveillance amid fears that Kashmir youth were getting radicalised through widespread online militant propaganda.
With militancy, especially home grown, on rise, security forces have launched a massive operation to flush out the ultras. Nearly 140 militants have been killed so far this year across the Valley, which is highest in the last eight years. The security forces are going after militants as part of operation “hunt down” and on the basis of a “hit list” of militants.
Sources said besides human intelligence, security forces were tracking the movement of militants by keeping the cell phones of militant handlers on surveillance. “Several encounters, especially in southern districts of Pulwama, Shopian, Kulgam and Anantnag, were carried out by the security forces after tracking the movement of militants, who were using cell phones. security forces are getting help from national agencies such as National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) in tracking the activities of militants,” they said.
“The technical cells of the Jammu and Kashmir police, which have the capability and permission to track suspected mobile phones in the valley, have also been revived. It has yielded good results,” sources revealed.
After Burhan Wani’s killings, several videos surfaced on the internet featuring new entrants of militant outfits. Breaking convention, militants would frequently appear in the videos mostly shot with mobile phones without bothering to hide their identities.
Jammu and Kashmir Police in March this year claimed to have traced connections of some 10,000 Facebook profiles to Pakistan and said militant groups control some 300 groups on WhatsApp. This increased police online surveillance amid fears that Kashmir youth are getting radicalised through widespread online militant propaganda.