Zakir Ahmad Bhat — who took command of the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) in Jammu and Kashmir after Burhan Wani was killed in July — has threatened to attack families of security forces, especially the police stationed in the valley.
In a 1.24-minute video released a day ago — exclusively shared with HuffPost India by the security establishment — 25-year-old Bhat says, “…the HM has the capability to target families of policemen and security forces. You are mistaken if you believe your families are safe in Jammu or Kanyakumari (sic)…”
Also known as “Musa”, Bhat is seen wearing fatigues and cradling an automatic weapon in the video. At least three more Ak-47s are strategically placed in the frame of the video to complete the effect of a makeshift military camp. This is first video released by the Zakir Ahmad Bhat. It is similar to the video messages issued by Burhan Wani earlier.
Third, and very importantly, the video aims to establish Bhat as the face of resistance in the valley. Burhan Wani had succeeded in galvanizing support and infusing young blood into Hizbul Mujahideen. Wani had successfully used social media to enthuse and recruit local youth as a result of which popular social networking sites like Facebook and even internet had to be shut down in the valley.
Bhat is from Tral in south Kashmir, and is the son of a senior government engineer. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Technology. He is known to have been motivated by the 2010 unrest in the valley that left 113 protestors, mainly young boys, dead. He formally joined the HM in 2013 and was a close confidant of Wani.
The video, circulating in the valley for the last 12 hours, has “several purposes,” according to a top official handling Kashmir.