The letter has allegedly been issued by Hizib’s Field Operational Commander Mohammad Bin Qasim and is being circulated on social media. The state is faced with such a challenge after over a decade.
“It is to inform you all that On November 21st 2018 Hizbul Mujahideen Jammu and Kashmir would be holding its command council meeting at Srinagar (sic),” the letter reads.
The meeting, as per the letter, will be presided over by a Hizib’s “senior most member from Shopian.”
The militant outfit has also dared the authorities and “challenged” it to stop them from holding the meeting.
“The command council will hold deliberations on various important matters and the future course of action,” it reads adding that “the minutes of the meeting will be made public after the successful completion.”
Hizib has requested people “to hold special prayers” for the “success” of the meeting.
The police are verifying the authenticity of the letter, Additional Director General of J&K Police (Law & Order), Munir Khan told News18. The police are terming the letter as the “frustration of militants” as they are suffering from crises.
“We have killed over 200 militants this year and the militants are perturbed. Let them hold this meeting if they can,” a top police official said on condition of anonymity. “The militants have developed rift and that is why this sort of material is being circulated,” he added.
During 1990s when thousands of militants were active in the Valley and calling the shots, such meetings would take place and the details would be released later.
“The apex body of Hizib used to be called as Central Command council. The council was headed by the chief commander.Deputy commander, financial chief, publicity head and the district commander used to participate besides other senior members,” said a former militant commander.
“In the meeting, the issues and strategies would be discussed. The actual concern of the meeting was regarding the operations,” he said.
Security agencies believe that it is a matter of concern, though they suspect it to be the handiwork of “disgruntled elements”.
“We are working over it. This cannot be overlooked. However, it is most probably the work of over ground workers to create fear among people. Such a meeting is not possible,” said an intelligence officer, on condition of anonymity.
“During the 1990s, militants did not announce the time and venue of the Command Council meeting, but they used to share some details with the media,” said a Kashmir based senior journalist. “It was considered as something big.”
The militants by announcing this, believes another journalist, are trying to show their influence and power if the letter is true.
“Maybe they want to tell that they have reached Srinagar. They are trying to show their presence,” he believes.
Some officers believe that this could be “psychological tactic” to engage the security agencies.
On Sunday, two militants affiliated with Al Badar were killed in Rebban village of Shopian district.
The chief of J&K Police SP Pani and DIG south Kashmir visited Shopian district and chaired the meeting reviewing the security of the ongoing Panchayat Polls.
Hizbul Mujahideen commander Riyaz Naikoo has threatened the Panchayat election contestants. Since past 48 hours in Kashmir, six civilians have been kidnapped by the militants out of which two were brutally assassinated.
In an unverified audio, Hizbul Mujahideen operational commander released an audio and a video clip in which the slain youth confesses to tipping off the army about the presence of militants. A day later, militants also released a gory video of slitting the throat of a youth.
The Hizib commander has threatened that more assassination videos will be released.