Most of the recruits whose identity was disclosed by the outfit were already known to the J&K police: J&K police chief SP Vaid. Hizbul Mujahideen's Burhan Wani was projected him as a social media hero after he was killed in 2016 in a bid to push up recruitment

NEW DELHI: Though the 'fresh' Kashmiri recruits whose photos were released by Hizbul Mujahideen via social media had joined over past several months, the outfit decided to put out a compiled list on Burhan Wani's death anniversary to create an impression that a large number of Kashmiris were turning to militancy. 

"Hizbul has released the information to entice the people to join its ranks. Most of the recruits whose identity was disclosed by the outfit were already known to the J&K police. It's not that they joined the outfit in the recent past. In fact, one of the police constables from Budgam included in the list was known to have enrolled into Hizbul nearly 4-5 months back. Hizb is obviously using the social media to show like everybody in Kashmir is alienated and joining militancy," J&K police chief Shesh Paul Vaid told TOI on Monday.

According to assessment by the central agencies, Hizbul Mujahideen is aiming to glamourise militancy by posting pictures of gun-wielding Kashmiri recruits, many of them with a good educational and family background, on the social media. "The pull of the social media among the Kashmiri youth is tremendous and Hizbul is using it to add appeal to militancy and boost manpower," said an officer.

For Pakistan and ISI that have a vital role in shaping Hizbul's strategy and moves in Kashmir, putting out faces of locals joining the outfit helps project the fight for Kashmir as an "indigenous struggle". "By getting Hizbul to expose identity of its Kashmiri recruits, Pakistan and ISI are only making them vulnerable to action by J&K police. Social media is used to motivate and recruit Kashmiri youth who are then projected as 'trophies' on social media, bringing them to notice of the police. Most of the new recruits, who are given nil or little training and also no weapons, are pushed to sure death as police goes after them," an officer pointed out.

"While identity of local Kashmiri terror recruits is exposed on social media, putting their lives in peril, the foreign terrorists of Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammed who are adequately trained in and equipped by Pakistan, are secretly deployed and trusted with the real terror action in J&K," said a home ministry official.

The official cited the example of Burhan Wani, who had been part of Hizbul for some time before the outfit started projecting him as a social media hero in a bid to push up recruitment. "He was subsequently killed in an encounter. But even his death was milked by Hizbul to whip up passions and trigger a violent backlash in Kashmir," said the officer.