Two wanted Kashmiri militants living outside the country for decades have purportedly been killed in Pakistan and Afghanistan, weeks after they were designated as “terrorists” under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act by the Indian government.
Hizb militant Bashir Ahmad Peer was said to have been killed on Monday evening in Rawalpindi. Islamic State commander Aijaz Ahmad Ahangar is believed to have been killed in Kabul a few days ago. Police have not officially confirmed their deaths.
“So, has the battlefield shifted?”
Srinagar-based journalist Ahmed Ali Fayyaz tweeted, referring to the killings.
Peer’s death has been confirmed by the PoK-based pro-separatist Kashmir Media Service, which said he was killed on Monday evening in an “attack” in Rawalpindi.
The agency said he was shot dead when he was leaving a mosque after performing evening prayers.
The agency did not identify the killers but said thousands participated in his last rites. It shared pictures showing Hizb chief Syed Salahuddin leading Peer’s funeral prayers.
Ahangar, a top IS commander, is believed to have been killed in the Kunar district of Afghanistan. Family sources in Kashmir said they were informed by officials about his death but this could not be independently confirmed.
Peer, 60, was among militants who were designated as “terrorists” by the Indian home ministry in October under the amended UAPA.
The law was amended in 2019 to also designate individuals as terrorists. Earlier, organisations alone could be designated as terrorist outfits.
The Union home ministry notification had said Peer had played a role in “terror activities” and was providing logistics to the banned outfit Hizb-ul-Mujahideen for infiltration in Kupwara.
A relative of Peer at the Babapora locality in Kupwara’s Aloosa village said he and his immediate family had shifted to Pakistan in the 1990s after his father Sikander Peer and brother Nazir Ahmad Peer were killed allegedly by government-linked gunmen.
“They sold their property and left for Pakistan. We have no idea who killed him. His father and brother had no links with militancy but were killed apparently because they were his family. His mother was the last to leave Kashmir some years back and we heard she died there (in Pakistan) last year,” the relative told The Telegraph.
“Nobody from his family lives here and we have no links with them,” the relative added.
Srinagar resident Ahangar, 48, alias Abu Usman al Kashmiri was part of an al-Qaida-linked network led by its top commander and PoK resident Muhammad Illyas Kashmiri.
Ahangar had later switched to the IS. A Union home ministry notification last month designated him as a terrorist and said he was currently residing in Afghanistan.
It said he was “engaged in restarting Islamic State (IS) channels in India” and had been involved in taking Kashmir towards militancy for which he had started the process of “identifying people to include them in his Kashmir-based network”.
The home ministry had said Ahangar had been appointed as the head of the Islamic State’s recruitment in India and was instrumental in launching an online India-centric IS propaganda magazine.
The notification said he was wanted for more than two decades and had started making a “terror strategy in the region by creating a coordination channel between several terrorist organisations”.