In November 2015, the then Lashkar-i-Toiba commander Abu Dujana with Rs 20 lakh bounty on his head was killed in a late night ambush at a remote South Kashmir village, bringing to an end a six year hunt during which he served as Laskhers J&K operations chief and presided over several high-profile attacks on security forces, including the one at Hyderpora which killed eleven security personnel. Qasim, a resident of Bhawalpora in Pakistan, had taken control of Lashker in 2011 after the death in an encounter of his predecessor Rehman Bhai. But soon he set himself apart as a tougher operator. Though heading a small band of local and foreign militants, Qasim embarked on some daring and dramatic attacks on security forces thus creating a perception of militancy disproportionate to the number of militants.
Two years on, his successor Abu Dujana followed more or less a similar trajectory. In his two years as Lashkar chief Dujana not only eluded the security agencies but also went on to plan and execute some high-profile attacks, one of them on a CRPF convoy near Pampore and a few more on the Entrepreneurial Development Institute, again near Pampore.
Much like his predecessor, the attacks like these had made Dujana one of the most feared non-local militant commanders in Valley and among the people he had acquired a cult-like status. He hailed from Gilgit Baltistan, the part of J&K under Pakistans direct control and now the bone of contention between India and Pakistan over China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
Though killings of the foreign militants generally dont trigger large protests in Valley, Dujanas death did. Protests not only broke out across South Kashmir but in central Kashmir and parts of the North too. After a long time, college students once again came out on the streets, forcing the state government to close them down. Mobile internet too was shut down. Interestingly National Conference president Dr Farooq Abdullah who during his election campaign early this year talked about making a common cause with the separatist Hurriyat also hailed Dujanas killing saying the killings of the high-profile militants like Dujana will usher in peace in the state. But as the story of Qasim and Dujana will have one believe this is not what is likely to happen. As the situation of the past three decades testifies, the killings of the militants has neither deterred more youth from joining the militancy, nor ushered Kashmir back to peace. And nor, if this long duration is any guide, will it in future. Rehman bhai will continue to be succeeded by Abu Qasim and he in turn by Dujana. And Dujana likely to be succeeded by Abu Ismael. The militancy and the states response to it will go on. True, the state tackles the unfolding violence institutionally, so will not tire of it, but this unrelenting state of affairs is taking a disastrous toll on the people of the state, our new and the future generation. The most rational and effective response to the lingering turmoil is to address the factors which keep it going. But this is something that is and has been last on the minds of the ruling leadership of this country.
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