On May 23, 2019, militant commander and representative of Al-Qaeda, Zakir Musa was killed in an ambush led by government forces in Dadsara, Tral, in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district. The valley has been put under a tight curfew since then.
Soon after the result of Lok Sabha polls were declared in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), a joint team of 42 Rashtriya Rifles (a wing of Indian Army) and Special Officers Group of J&K police led an ambush in Dadsara village after receiving information about the presence of the militants in the area.
As per reports, after a brief exchange of fire, founder of Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind (AGH) and Burhan Wani’s close associate, Zakir Rashid Bhat aka Zakir Musa was killed.
Zakir was an engineering student before taking up arms. Initially, he had joined one of the old militant outfits, Hizbul Mujahedeen (HM). Reportedly, he was one of the close aides of Burhan soon after his killing in 2016, but he parted his ways with HM and founded his own outfit AGH.
Born to a well-educated family in Noopora, Zakir was just 19-years-old when he joined HM. He finished his basic education from Noor Public School. He decided to study non-medical and joined Government Higher Secondary Noopora.
After passing 12th standard, his family, especially his father Abdul Rashid Bhat, who is a senior government engineer, decided to send Zakir out of J&K for further studies. In 2010, he joined Ram Devi Jindal Group of Professional Institutions in Chandigarh to study BTech.
Eventually, in 2013, he dropped his studies and joined the armed resistance movement of Kashmir. In many pictures that went viral on social networking websites, Zakir and Burhan were seen together. He took Burhan’s place in HM after his death.
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On July 27, 2017, a channel affiliated with Al-Qaeda announced Zakir as their head in Kashmir. It was for the first time when Al-Qaeda marked their presence in the disputed territory. Later, many government agencies also mentioned his affiliation with the Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS).
On August 18, 2018, in a fifteen minutes long audio which went viral on many social networking websites, he declared that he or his outfit never had any relationship or links with ISIS or Dawlah.
On November 18, 2018, a grenade attack took place in Rajasansi, Amritsar in Punjab in which three people were killed and 10 were injured. Soon after the attack, Punjab police declared that the attack was made by the AGH members and Zakir could be in Punjab. His posters appeared in Gurdaspur and Amritsar terming him as wanted.
After a few weeks of the incident, on December 6, 2018, Punjab police working on the intelligence reports announced high alert in Bathinda and Ferozepur as Zakir could be hiding there. Punjab police also mentioned that he could be dressed like a Sikh. Posters carrying his pictures, one of him disguised as Sikh were put up across the said districts.
As soon as the news about Zakir’s killing spread, massive protests were reported from almost all the parts of Valley. In Srinagar, protests were reported from Hyderpora, Ram Bagh, Habbakadal, Nawakadal. Thereafter, students of Kashmir University assembled near the Zakoora campus and protested against the killing. Similarly, protests were reported from Baramulla and Kupwara districts of northern Kashmir.
In south Kashmir, protests were reported from Yaripora, Frisal and Souch. Meanwhile, pro-freedom Nasheeds (chants) were played on the loudspeakers in Mohammadpora and Badroo areas of Kulgam district.
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As per sources, protests were reported from Rajpora, Kakapora, Malangpora hamlets of Pulwama district as well. In Shopian district, protests were reported from Keller, Mastpora, Trenz, Imam Sahib, Killora.
Before the news of Zakir’s killing could spread across the region, government authorities barred mobile internet across the valley. To stop student protests, divisional commissioner Baseer Ahmad Khan has announced that all the private and government educational institutes will remain closed throughout the valley on May 24.