Slain Hizbul militant Burhan Wani's successor emerges in new video, vows to fight till Kashmir gets 'azadi'
Zakir Rashid Bhat, a former engineering student, has emerged as the successor of slain Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, whose killing by the security forces has triggered violent protests in Kashmir Valley.
Jammu: Zakir Rashid Bhat, a former engineering student, has emerged in a new video as the successor of slain Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, whose killing by the security forces had triggered violent protests in the Kashmir Valley.
According to reports, Bhat has urged the people of Kashmir to continue the agitation till the region achieves its goal of “azadi”.
Although there is still no confirmation the terror outfit regarding the appointment of Wani's successor, the eight-minute video message by Bhat is being seen as confirmation of his elevation.
“We all know how the martyrdom of our three brothers has brought movement to a new point. Now we need to support this struggle and take it to its logical conclusion,” Bhat reportedly said in Urdu in the WhatsApp video, which was mailed to local media houses on Tuesday.
Bhat, said to be around 22 years, was a student of civil engineering in Chandigarh before he returned to his ancestral village Noorpura in Pulwama in 2013 and joined the Hizbul Mujahideen, the only surviving Kashmir-based militant group.
In the video, Bhat appeared in military fatigues, sitting on a chair with three AK assault rifles in the background.
At least 65 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in clashes between stone-pelting protesters and security forces and the Valley has remained under curfew for the 40th day till Wednesday.
More than 2,000 people have also been injured with many suffering eye injuries – including children as young as five year olds -- from pellets fired by security forces, fanning anti-India sentiments across the Valley.
Media-savvy Wani was the first militant leader to extensively use social media to lure educated youth into the fight for “independence of the disputed region”.
Bhat also asked the youth to shun recruitment drive for special police officers (SPOs) saying they will be used to “create another Ikhwan”, a counter-insurgency force formed in the mid-nineties that was accused of human rights violations.