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Sabzar Ahmad Bhat was a commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen militant group.[1][2] He was killed by police on May 26, 2017.[2]

Early life[edit | edit source]

Bhat's home village is reported to have been in Rathsuna, Tral, Jammu and Kashmir.[2][3][4] He only finished half of his schooling, dropping out after failing his Class X examinations, and previously worked in the orchards and fields of his father.[3][4] He was involved in petty crime prior to joining Hizbul Mujahideen.[3]

Hizbul Mujahideen[edit | edit source]

He reportedly joined Hizbul Mujahideen in April 2015, after stealing a rifle from a CRPF soldier in Tral.[3][4] Bhat is reported to have been involved in attacks on panchayat members and security forces, as well as the execution of civilians he believed to be informants.[3][5] In October 2015, he was arrested for transporting two Lashkar-e-Taiba militants involved in the 2015 Udhampur Terrorist Attack.[6] In that case, he was indicted on January 29, 2016.[7]

Bhat was an aide and close friend to the previous Hizbul Mujahideen commander, Burhan Wani, who was killed in July 2016.[2] Indian security forces considered him effective at using social media to recruit youth towards militancy.[8][9] Indian security forces previously located him in Rathsuna, in March 2017, but he was able to evade them after a 15-hour gunfight that left one policeman dead.[3][4][10][11]

Death[edit | edit source]

Bhat was killed in a firefight with Indian security forces in Soimoh, Tral, approximately forty kilometers outside of Srinagar.[2][12] He was subsequently buried in Pulwama.[13] His death sparked clashes and a police-imposed curfew, during which a youth was killed in clashes with the Central Reserve Police Force.[14] Internet and phone service across Kashmir was suspended in an attempt to calm the region.[15][16][17]

A previously-unknown militant group, Mujahideen Taliban-e-Kashmir, claimed it had provided information on Bhat to security forces.[18] The claim remains unverified, though some analysts suggested it reflected a growing schism between various militant groups in Kashmir, with members of Hizbul Mujahideen concerned that Zakir Musa may have betrayed Bhat.[19][20]

Diplomatic protest[edit | edit source]

Pakistan's Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz claimed that the killing of Bhat was an extrajudicial execution, and called on the United Nations and the Organisation of Islamic Conference to investigate.[21][22] The Provincial Assembly of the Punjab also unanimously passed a resolution condemning the killing of Bhat, and requested United Nations intervention in Kashmir.[23]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Ashiq, Peerzada (October 14, 2017). "As commanders fall, militants lose links to handlers". The Hindu. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/as-commanders-fall-militants-lose-links-to-handlers/article19862958.ece. "Some 21 commanders, including Hizbul Mujahideen’s Sabzar Bhat, Shahbaz Shafi alias Rayees Kachroo and Commander Aijaz Mir, have been killed so far as well." 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 "Kashmir conflict: Top militant Sabzar Bhat killed, police say". BBC News. May 27, 2017. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-40068927. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Singh, Aarti Tikoo; Pandit, M Saleem (May 28, 2017). "Slain terrorist a drug addict who dropped out in Class X". Times of India. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/slain-terrorist-a-drug-addict-who-dropped-out-in-class-x/articleshow/58876744.cms. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Malik, Irfan Amin (May 28, 2017). "Sabzar's journey from ‘hardworking farmer to tech-savvy fighter’". Greater Kashmir. http://www.greaterkashmir.com/news/front-page/sabzar-s-journey-from-hardworking-farmer-to-tech-savvy-fighter/250603.html. 
  5. Naseem, Ishfaq (August 2, 2016). "Burhan Wani's successor Sabzar Ahmad Bhat remains top-rated militant for police". Firstpost. http://www.firstpost.com/india/burhan-wani-successor-sabzar-ahmad-bhat-remains-top-rated-militant-for-police-2929012.html. "Besides the attacks on the panchs, sarpanchs and security forces, Sabzar is known to have carried out the killings of civilians who were believed to have been the informers of the forces. While Burhan was an 'A++ listed' militant, police officials said, Sabzar was an 'A category' militant." 
  6. Trucker wanted in udhampur terror attack case arrested.(2015, Oct 14). DNA : Daily News & Analysis. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/1721730797 Srinagar: Two months after Udhampur terror attack, Jammu and Kashmir police achieved a major success on Tuesday when they arrested the truck owner-cum-conductor who ferried two Pakistani militants to Samroli on the Jammu-Srinagar highway to launch a fidayeen attack on the security forces on August 5.
  7. NIA indicts naveed, 5 other LeT terrorists in udhampur attack case.(2016, Jan 29). The Hindustan Times. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/1761022054
  8. Yasir, Sameer (May 29, 2017). "Hizbul Mujahideen commander Sabzar Bhat killed: How security forces pulled off encounter in Tral". http://www.firstpost.com/india/hizbul-mujahideen-commander-sabzar-bhat-killed-how-security-forces-pulled-off-encounter-in-tral-3487151.html. "The security forces pointed out that 26-year-old Ahmad, a resident of Ruthsana village in Tral, was the brain behind utilising social media as a tool to attract young boys towards militancy. He was marked as an 'A-category' militant." 
  9. Nanjappa, Vicky (May 30, 2017). "Sabzar Bhat, the terrorist who shot more selfies than bullets". Oneindia. http://www.oneindia.com/india/sabzar-bhat-the-terrorist-who-shot-more-selfies-than-bullets-2448925.html. "Intelligence Bureau officials tell OneIndia that like Wani, this person too was a social media tiger. The youth of Kashmir unnecessarily get carried away by such people who make a pomp and show on the social media. This is just a strategy on their part to attract the youth into their fold, the official also added." 
  10. Wani, Ashraf (July 12, 2016). "From failed lover to terror chief: Meet Hizbul's new poster boy in Kashmir". http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/failed-lover-to-terror-chief-meet-hizbuls-new-poster-boy/1/713490.html. "Sabzar Ahmad Bhat alias 'SAB DON', son of Ghulam Hassan Bhat, resident of Ruthsana in Tral, is believed to be the brain behind the use of social media as weapon among terrorist groups for last two years in Kashmir." 
  11. "15-hr gunbattle ends in J&K's Tral; policeman martyred, two terrorists gunned down — Complete details inside". Zee News. March 5, 2017. http://zeenews.india.com/jammu-and-kashmir/15-hr-gunbattle-ends-in-jks-tral-policeman-martyred-two-terrorists-gunned-down-complete-details-inside_1983558.html. 
  12. "Top rebel commander Sabzar Ahmad Bhat killed in Kashmir". Al Jazeera. May 2017. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/05/top-rebel-commander-sabzar-ahmad-bhat-killed-kashmir-170527093919071.html. "Sabzar Ahmad Bhat, a senior leader of the Hizbul Mujahideen group, was killed overnight by government troops in Tral area, some 40km south of Kashmir's capital, Srinagar, police said." 
  13. Rashid, Toufiq (May 28, 2017). "Burhan Wani’s father attends funeral of Hizbul militant Sabzar Bhat". Hindustan Times. http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/burhan-wani-s-father-attends-funeral-of-hizbul-militant-sabzar-bhat/story-Ek79Xexmo6OQL4pvRKRcnK.html. "Hizbul Mujahideen militant Sabzar Ahmad Bhat was buried in his village in Pulwama on Sunday morning, a day after the 27-year-old was killed in a gun fight with security forces in south Kashmir." 
  14. Parvaiz, Athr (May 30, 2017). "Since July 2016, Kashmir’s schools and colleges stayed shut on 60% of working days". Hindustan Times. http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/since-july-2016-kashmir-s-schools-and-colleges-stayed-shut-on-60-of-working-days/story-1FlfmjKN23a8osHATOIaFM.html. "The killing of Wani’s successor, Sabzar Bhat, on May 27, 2017, threatens to further stoke the fire raging since the April 9, 2017 by-elections for a parliamentary seat. On May 27, 2017, separatists announced three days of strike and protests to mourn Bhat’s death while the police imposed curfew to prevent people from gathering. Yet, clashes took place between protesters and personnel of the state police and the Central Reserve Police Force resulting in the killing of a youth and injuries to 70 others." 
  15. Masoodi, Nazir (June 1, 2017). "CCTV Footage Helps Police Hunt Down Terrorists In Kashmir's Sopore, 2 Killed". NDTV. http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/cctv-footage-helped-police-hunt-down-2-terrorists-in-kashmirs-sopore-1706529. "Internet services were suspended across Kashmir after Sabzar Ahmad Bhat, who has succeeded Burhan Wani, was killed in south Kashmir's Tral on Saturday." 
  16. "Not Even 24 Hours After It Was Restored, Mobile Internet Services In Kashmir Valley Snapped Again". The Huffington Post. May 27, 2017. http://www.huffingtonpost.in/2017/05/27/not-even-24-hours-since-it-was-restored-mobile-internet-service_a_22112325/. "The Government of Jammu and Kashmir snapped the mobile internet( 2G, 3G and 4G) services in Kashmir fearing law and order problems, especially after the killing of top Hizbul Mujahedeen commander Sabzar Bhat in Tral encounter on Saturday. It has not even been 24 hours since the social media sites and applications including Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter were restored in Kashmir Valley." 
  17. Safi, Michael (July 8, 2017). "WhatsApp warriors on the new frontline of Kashmir’s conflict". The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/08/kashmir-whatsapp-warriors-frontline-conflict-india. "Mobile internet services were shut down completely 24 hours later, when the killing of a prominent militant, Sabzar Ahmad Bhat, ignited new demonstrations. His image, clutching by turns guns and selfie sticks, filled Facebook timelines across the region." 
  18. Rashid, Toufiq (June 1, 2017). "J-K: Unknown militant group claims to have killed Hizb commander Sabzar Bhat". Hindustan Times. http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/j-k-unknown-militant-group-claims-to-have-killed-hizb-commander-sabzar-bhat/story-Rr7cQC9vLq7d0cwoIromVN.html. "The group – which identified itself as Mujahideen Taliban-e-Kashmir – said they provided information on Bhat to security forces because “he was coming in the way of Kashmir’s Islamic struggle”. A video that surfaced on the social media on Wednesday showed an armed masked man swearing allegiance to former HM commander Zakir Musa in his quest to “turn Kashmir into an Islamic state”. Another clip posted on Thursday showed three masked men telling both militants and Kashmiri citizens to follow Musa unless they wanted to face the same fate as Bhat. “We provided information on the militants in Arampora, and we will continue to do so if anybody comes in our way,” one of them said. “Sabzar got what he deserved, and we don’t care who becomes the new chief.”" 
  19. "Local Miliant Group Claims It Informed Police About Hizb Commander Sabzar Bhat's Whereabout". Outlook. June 2, 2017. http://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/local-miliant-group-claims-it-informed-police-about-hizb-commander-sabzar-bhats-/299183. "Hizbul Mujahideen commander and slain militant Burhan Wani's successor Sabzar Bhat's killing in Tral encounter has only exposed the widening schism between the militant groups in the valley." 
  20. Kanwal, Rahul (May 30, 2017). "Was Sabzar Bhatt betrayed by boss Zakir Musa? Intel inputs suggest rift among Kashmiri terrorists". http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/sabzar-bhatt-zakir-musa-hizbul-burhan-wani-kashmir-militants/1/966135.html. "Radio and mobile chatter intercepted by India's intelligence agencies reflect a high level of distrust between former Hizbul commander Zakir Musa and the terror outfit he had led till recently. In the aftermath of the encounter killing of Burhan Wani's successor Sabzar Bhatt, Indian agencies have recorded multiple conversations where Hizbul Mujahideen cadre can be heard discussing whether Zakir Musa betrayed Sabzar Bhatt. Hizbul terrorists seem to suspect that a personal messenger close to Musa tipped off the Jammu and Kashmir police about the location of Sabzar's hideout. Sabzar was killed last week in an encounter very close to his hometown of Tral." 
  21. "Held Kashmir on boil after Hizb chief martyred". The Nation. http://nation.com.pk/national/28-May-2017/held-kashmir-on-boil-after-hizb-chief-martyred. 
  22. Goswami, Dev, ed (May 28, 2017). "Pakistan calls Sabzar Ahmad Bhat 'martyr' says India killing 'defenceless Kashmiris'". http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/pakistan-calls-sabzar-ahmad-bhat-martyr/1/964760.html. "A statement released by the Pakistan Foreign Office said, "Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz strongly condemned killing of 12 people in held Kashmir since yesterday by the Indian forces in Pulwama and Baramulla."" 
  23. Press Trust of India (May 30, 2017). "Pak's Punjab Assembly condemns Sabzar’s killing". Greater Kashmir. http://www.greaterkashmir.com/news/world/story/250823.html. "The resolution was tabled by Opposition Leader Mian Mahmoodur Rashid in the Punjab Assembly's today session. The resolution condemned the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Sabzar Bhat and other militants last week. [...] The assembly passed the resolution unanimously." 

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