Posters, videos terming Musa a ‘Traitor’ surface in South Kashmir

SRINAGAR : A series of poorly scripted videos and dubious origin posters — attempting to cash on divisions between Al-Qaeda-linked commander Zakir Musa and his erstwhile group Hizb-ul-Mujahideen — have appeared in the region in recent weeks.
The latest to appear is a poster written in Urdu with significant spelling errors. The contents of the poster accuse Zakir Musa of being a “traitor” or “gadaar” — the word spelt wrongly, which has caused doubt about the origin of the message.
The posters, which had the logo of Hizbul Mujahideen, appeared in Shopian and Kulgam districts of south Kashmir on Saturday and followed a pattern of anti-Zakir messages that have appeared in similarly themed videos in recent weeks.
The videos first appeared in June, within weeks after a rift broke out between Zakir Musa and separatist politicians, and Zakir Musa and Hizbul Mujahideen, when the young militant commander vowed to fight for an Islamist cause.
The rift grew as the three sides hardened their positions culminating in Zakir quitting Hizbul Mujahideen. Since then, Zakir’s popularity has grown despite opposition from traditional separatists and Pakistan-based militant groups as he was named as the head of the newly formed Al-Qaeda-linked Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind.
In the videos, masked gunmen first claimed to be from Zakir’s group and said they had leaked the hideout of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Sabzar Ahmad Bhat. In subsequent videos, the masked militants claimed themselves to be from Hizbul Mujahideen and accused Zakir of leaking information about the hideouts of militants.
The latest poster followed a similar theme. However, the posters and the videos backfired on the social media, where locals rubbished them as the work of “intelligence agencies”.
“This is a handiwork of the Indian agencies,” Syed Waseem wrote on Twitter in response to the poster, describing it as “contemptible propaganda”.
Shopian SP Ambarkar Shriram Dinkar said the police were investigating the origin of the posters, adding that no case had been registered so far.
The videos and the posters also prompted a reaction from Hizbul Mujahideen with its field commander Riyaz Naikoo terming it as an “attempt to divide”.
“It is a lie that our militants have been killed because of brother Musa. It is impossible in this date that any militant knows the location of other militant,” Naikoo is heard saying in an audio attributed to him on social media that appeared a day after the posters surfaced.
Naikoo also distances his organisation from the masked gunmen appearing in the videos. “It is a conspiracy to create confusion among the people and among the militants. There can be misunderstandings sometimes, but there are no differences among us. We are united and our mission is one,” Naikoo said.