Zakir Musa’s journey from tech student to most-wanted rebel from Valley

From an engineering student to one of the most wanted militants, Zakir Musa’s journey had all ingredients of a Bollywood potboiler.

Zakir Rashid Bhat, alias Zakir Musa (25), had joined the militant ranks in 2013 and four years later he parted ways and founded the Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, an affiliate of Al-Qaeda.

Musa, a close aide of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, whose killing in 2016 sparked nearly five-month-long unrest and led to the killing of nearly 90 civilians, was gunned down in south Kashmir’s Tral sub-district. Musa was trapped inside a two-storey building when joint teams of forces cordoned off the house on Thursday evening. His body was recovered on Friday morning.

“He was the only surviving terrorist of the erstwhile Burhan group and had been active for the past six years,” a police spokesman said.

Son of an engineer with the J&K Government, Musa left his engineering degree at a Punjab college midway and joined the Hizbul Mujahideen in 2013. His brother is a doctor and sister a bank officer.

Musa left the Hizbul Mujahideen in May 2017 and founded the Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind. The radical group drew its cadres from Hizb and Lashkar-e-Toiba. Musa called for the establishment of a Caliphate and enforcing Sharia laws.

Musa was critical of separatists, Pakistani establishment and militant leadership after he founded the Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind. He issued regular audio statements on the social media exhorting jihad. A few of his pictures surfaced on the social media, showing him imitating the style of Osama bin Laden, the slain Al-Qaeda leader.

In one of his early audio message, he had also threatened separatist leaders if they continued to call Kashmir a “political struggle.”

Musa’s group was found involved in an attack in Punjab. He was recently declared a proclaimed offender by the NIA special court, Mohali, in a serial blast case at Jalandhar on September 14, 2018.