August 5, 2017 EDITORIAL 123 Views

Hours after Abu Dujana and his associate Arif Lehari were killed by security forces in Kashmir, an unverified audio purportedly recorded just before their killing has sparked off speculation that they owed allegiance to al Qaeda and not Lashkar-e-Taiba as earlier believed. This could well herald the rise of this new force in the Kashmir reflecting a certain degree of disillusionment with Pakistan and with Pakistan-based militancy.
For the Indian security forces, this makes little difference but it points to a new direction in which they should be looking for possible threats while not lowering their guard against the Pakistan-based groups. That three days have elapsed since the two were killed but there is no statement from Lashkar, whose chief Dujana was supposed to have been, is puzzling indeed. It could well be a ruse to set the security men on the al Qaeda track but, on the other hand, it could well be true. Dujana and Lelhari are heard in the audio swearing allegiance to Al Qaeda four times. The other interesting facet is the request by local Kashmiri militant Lelhari who says in the audio that he doesn’t want to be wrapped in Pakistani flag but in Tauheed [Islamic] flag.
Some Kashmir-watchers say that either Dujana had lost favour with Lashkar and he knew that surviving in Kashmir without a support system was going to be impossible. This is why he knew he had no option but to join forces with al Qaeda chief Zakir Musa. Or that over time, a feeling has percolated down that everyone from Lashkar to Hizb to Hurriyat is compromised in one way or another. So this new element coming into picture — al Qaeda — seems greatly interesting. They may not adhere or even understand al Qaeda’s philosophy, but this option now appeals to the potential militant recruits. Significantly, the disillusionment with Pakistan is evident from the fact that though thousands turn up for funerals of these militants none of the slain militant is wrapped up in Pakistani flags anymore. They are wrapped in a black cloth. Does this tell a tale or is it being too presumptuous?

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