New Delhi: Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) backed new Kashmiri terror group 'The Resistance Front (TRF)' is suspected as the prime terror outfit behind targeted killings in Jammu and Kashmir in the past few days that led the Centre to call a high-level meeting chaired by Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday (October 7) at his North Block office.
"The TRF, which is an offshoot of LeT, has been created by Pakistan in an apparent bid to make terrorist groups in Kashmir look like indigenous ones. The group has been getting regular support from the neighbouring country," said officials in National Investigation Agency (NIA).
IGP Kashmir Vijay Kumar told ANI that the state police's intelligence inputs and previous records of the terror acts committed by the TRF clearly raise fingers towards the group behind the recent target killings in the valley.
When asked about the prime suspect behind targeted killings in Kashmir, Kumar responded with "LeT (TRF)".
The officer said the police has got some key leads against LeT's TRF wing and its supports and appealed to the minority communities not to panic as the security forces are maintaining peace to secure a safe environment and to ensure better law and order in the valley.
Sources in the intelligence agencies underscored the killing of two TRF terrorists identified as Abbas Sheikh, the top Commander of LeT and self-claimed chief of TRF, and his deputy Saqib Manzoor in Srinagar's Aloochi Bagh area in August end during a shootout between terrorists and Jammu and Kashmir Police.
"As per police records, both the killed terrorists were involved in the elimination of several political workers, police personnel and civilians. Saqib Manzoor was involved in the killing of Advocate Babar Qadri last year," said the agency sources, adding that the pattern of recent killings has raised fingers towards TRF's prime role.
Besides, the sources said, the TRF terrorists have been involved in several grenade attacks on security establishments as well as in several other terror crimes and civilian atrocities.
According to J&K Police data, 28 civilians have been killed by terrorists this year, including five from local Hindu or Sikh communities and two non-local Hindu labourers.
Both Jammu and Kashmir Police and agency sources confirmed that the recent attacks on civilians are a part of the new strategy of LeT's TRF wing to spread terror among residents and security forces as the terrorist handlers have got frustrated due to the killing of huge numbers of terrorists of all outfits especially their leaderships, destruction of their support structures and continuous and effective maintenance of law and order in the valley.
As per the inputs, sources said, unarmed policemen can also be targeted by the terrorist groups and the ongoing attack on innocent civilians and politicians and now innocent civilians from minority communities, including women.
The use of pistols in all the recent killings, the sources said, clearly indicates that it is the handy work of newly recruited terrorists or those who are about to join terrorist's rank. "TRF is currently in process of recruiting more and more locals to commit such terror acts," they added.
In some cases, the Jammu and Kashmir sources said, Over Ground Workers (OGWs) have also been found directly involved, and the police are working hard in identifying all such part-time or hybrid terrorists.
"Jammu and Kashmir Police as well as intelligence agencies have received several leads and are working on it," said Jammu and Kashmir police sources, adding that they have also been launching operations along with Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and other state security forces as well as Rashtriya Rifles soldiers as per need.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah, while chairing a high-level meeting on Thursday, specifically discussed the targeted killings in Jammu and Kashmir where a principal and a teacher of a government school were killed by terrorists earlier on Thursday, the latest in a spate of targeted killings in the Kashmir valley.
The issue was discussed thoroughly as terrorists stormed into the Government Boys Higher Secondary School in Srinagar's Eidgah area and shot the principal and the teacher at close range.
The attack comes less than 48 hours after three persons were shot dead in strikes on Tuesday, and seven people have been killed in terror attacks in Kashmir in the last five days.
NIA officials said that Pakistan-based ISI handlers of proscribed terror outfit LeT has been using the pseudo-acronym TRF to take responsibility for terror strikes in Jammu and Kashmir aimed at maintaining "plausible deniability and evade Law Enforcement Agencies".
TRF has taken responsibility for various terrorist activities in Jammu and Kashmir in the recent past.
Run by "local Kashmiri residents" having affiliation to LeT and other terror groups, TRF is a face-saving wing of the outlawed terror organisation being named in terrorist acts.
NIA recently got inputs against the TRF as its name came during the Bathinda Improvised Explosive Device (IED) recovery case investigation.
Days after a massive show of strength by the BJP in the form of Tiranga Yatra and celebratory programmes across the Kashmir valley to mark the 73rd Accession day of Jammu and Kashmir with the Union of India in October last year, three BJP workers were shot dead by militants in south Kashmir's Kulgam district. TRF took responsibility for the attack minutes after the incident.
The security forces believe that TRF was floated after the Centre's move to abrogate Article 370 in 2019.
The LeT handlers across the border devised the plan to float the TRF by using its cadre and other militant groups. The plan was to increase the militancy related activities as a reaction to August 2019 changes.
The TRF has been involved in several attacks in the past two years. In one of its first attacks, a grenade was lobbed by the group's men on CRPF in the Lal Chowk area of Srinagar in February last year, which led to injuries to two CRPF men and four civilians.
The group also came in the news between April 1 to April 4 last year when its men managed to kill five Indian Army soldiers, including four Special Forces men (Paras), near the Line of Control at the Keran sector Kupwara. Five TRF men were also killed in the encounter eventually.