Militant killed in south Kashmir was of Burmese origin: Police

SRINAGAR: One of the two foreign militants killed in a gunfight with security forces in south Kashmir this week may have had his origin in Burma’s formerly known Arakan province, home to one of the most persecuted ethno-religious communities, the Rohingyas, police sources said.

editorial@tribune.com

Azhar Qadri

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, October 8

One of the two foreign militants killed in a gunfight with security forces in south Kashmir this week may have had his origin in Burma’s formerly known Arakan province, home to one of the most persecuted ethno-religious communities, the Rohingyas, police sources said.

The militant, who was initially identified by pseudonym Chota Burmi, was killed along with his associate and commander Adeel Pathan during a gunfight in a forest near south Kashmir’s Tral town on Sunday afternoon. The police sources, however, told The Tribune that Chota Burmi’s real name was Abdur Rehman al Arkani or Abdur Rehman of Arakan.

Arakan is the old name of Burma’s Rakhine state, home to persecuted Rohingya Muslims. The two security agencies, the police and the Army, personnel of which killed the militants in a surgical operation, in their official statements had identified the slain as “foreign militants” without revealing the exact origin.

It is usually difficult for security agencies to verify the exact origin of foreign militants who are killed in gunfights. The sources said Burmi is believed to have been a resident of Burma. Burmi had infiltrated into Kashmir in 2013 and was part of an eight-member group of foreign militants who had established a base in south Kashmir’s Awantipora sub-district.

Chota Burmi, as he was known to security agencies, was affiliated with Jaish-e-Mohammad, the group founded by Maulana Masood Azhar, the militant commander who was released in 1999 in exchange for hostages of the hijacked IC-814 Indian Airlines plane.

Jaish-e-Mohammad, like other militant groups operating in Kashmir, has a history of recruiting militants from across Muslim countries. One of the Jaish-e-Mohammad’s early militant strike was carried out by a Birmingham resident Mohammad Bilal, who had exploded a car bomb outside the Army’s Corps headquarters here in 2000.

Since the insurgency began in 1989, militants from several Muslim countries, including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sudan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Iraq, have fought in Kashmir. Most of the foreign militants, however, were from Pakistan followed by Afghanistan.

Militancy in Kashmir has undergone a major shift in recent years as the number of foreign militants has significantly decreased and local cadres are taking a lead role. In the past year, nearly a hundred local youths took to militancy, most of them in south Kashmir’s four districts.

With the killing of Burmi and Pathan, the eight-member group of Jaish-e-Mohammad, active in south Kashmir for the past two years, had now two surviving militants whose current area of activity was not known, the sources said.

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