Zakir Rashid Bhat

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Zakir Rashid Bhat
Founder and 1st Ameer of Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind
In office
27 July 2017 – 24 May 2019
Preceded byMerger with Al-Qaeda
Succeeded byHameed Lelhari[1]
Field operational Commander of Hizbul Mujahideen
In office
9 July 2016 – 13 May 2017
Preceded byBurhan Wani
Succeeded byRiyaz Naikoo
Personal details
Zakir Rashid Bhat

25 July 1994[2]
Noorpora, J&K, India
Died24 May 2019[2]
Dadasara, J&K, India
Cause of deathEncounter
CitizenshipIndia Indian
NationalityIndia Indian
ReligionStar and Crescent.svg Islam
MovementJamaat-e-Islami Kashmir
Military service
Branch/serviceFlag of Jihad.svg Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind.[3][4]
Activity years2013–2019
RankCommander in chief Emir of Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind

Zakir Rashid Bhat (also known as Zakir Musa) was an Islamist, Kashmiri-separatist militant who became the commander of Hizbul Mujahideen after the killing of Burhan Wani and Sabzar Bhat, who were the former commanders of the same outfit. He later became the chief of Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind.[3][2]

In 2017, Zakir Musa left from Hizbul Mujahideen and formed Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind in the Kashmir region. He was a close aide of Burhan Wani and Sabzar Bhat. Musa was one of the most wanted militant in Jammu and Kashmir, India with a bounty of 1 million Indian rupees on his head announced by the Government of India in 2017. In November 2018, Indian Security Forces claimed that Musa appeared in Punjab. Then in December of the same year, the security forces claimed that Musa appeared in Punjab once again.

Early life[edit]

Zakir Rashid Bhat was born in Noorpora area of Tral in the Pulwama district of the Kashmir Valley of Jammu and Kashmir, India. His father Abdul Rashid Bhat, a senior engineer working with the state government.[2] Musa studied at Noor Public School up to 10th, and then attended the government higher secondary institution in Noorpora where he passed his 12th in 2011.[2][5]

Hizbul Mujahideen[edit]

Musa joined the Hizbul Mujahideen in 2013 after leaving his studies of Bachelor of Technology.[2] He became the commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen after the death of Burhan Muzaffar Wani; discontent over Wani's death led to the 2016 Kashmir unrest.[5][6] In August 2016, Musa issued his first video in Kashmir.[7][8][9][10] He has been described as "part of a new generation of tech-savvy, well-educated terrorist" who became involved in the conflict after the 2010 Kashmir unrest.[11]

In 2017, Musa threatened to behead the Hurriyat leaders for calling the Kashmir conflict a political, rather than a religious, objective to establish Islamic rule; he warned them not to become a "thorn" in the imposition of Sharia in Kashmir. Hizbul Mujahideen immediately disassociated itself from Musa's statement, and Musa, in response, quit the organization.[12] In 2017, he left the group after it refused to back his public statements supporting his argument that the struggle in Kashmir was for Islam, and not for political purposes.[13][14][15]

Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind[edit]

In July 2017, the Global Islamic Media Front claimed that Zakir Musa had been named the head of Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, a newly created cell of Al-Qaeda. After the killing of terrorist commander Abu Dujana and Arif Lelhari, a statement purported to be from Musa was released. The statement claimed that Dujana and Lelhari had joined Al-Qaeda and helped establish it. Officials stated that the voice of the message matched those of the earlier audio clips by Musa, though the state's DGP S.P. Vaid stated there was no way of authenticating the clips even though there were reports that Dujana and Musa were close at the time. Meanwhile, an audio-clip circulated on media that claimed to be the last message from Dujana and Arif during their encounter. Two voices claim allegiance to Al-Qaeda; however, no gunfire is heard and the authenticity of the clip was not proven.

It was reported on 12 August 2017 that Musa and his aide evaded an Indian Army and JK Police operation when locals pelted security forces with stones in Noorpora village of Tral.[16] Allegedly according to Indian media In an audio message released on 31 August 2017, Musa attacked Pakistan for "betraying Kashmir jihad." He also stated that the objective of Al-Qaeda's Kashmir cell was to clear it from the Pakistan government, army and their sponsored agents. He also threatened to "liberate India" from the Hindus.[17] According to Indian media, Hizbul put up posters in Sopore in September 2017, which held him responsible for helping Indian security forces kill Kashmiris, asking people to chase him to death and also called him an "Indian agent."[18]

Call for return of Kashmiri Pandits[edit]

Musa, like his predecessor Burhan Wani, asked the Kashmiri Pandits to return to their homeland.[19] He stated during a video released after the killing of Burhan Wani in 2016, "We request Kashmiri Pandits to return to their homes. We take the responsibility of their protection."[20]

Death and aftermath[edit]

Zakir Musa was killed after an 11-hour long operation.[21] Musa was killed by security forces in an encounter at Dadasara village in Tral on 24 May 2019.[22][23]

In the aftermath of Zakir Musa's encounter, the government authorities snapped internet services in the entire Kashmir region. Curfew was imposed in all the major towns of the valley, including in the main city of Srinagar, also schools and colleges were ordered to remain shut in some areas. [24][21]

At the time of his death, the BBC News described him as "India's most wanted militant".[3][24]

See also[edit]


  1. Ashraf Wani (23 October 2019). "J&K: Zakir Musa's successor killed in Awantipora encounter". India Today. Retrieved 19 December 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Aarti Tikoo Singh (14 May 2017). "From engineering dropout to militant: Story of Hizbul militant who quit outfit". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 23 May 2022. Retrieved 14 May 2017.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "Zakir Musa: Thousands mourn India's 'most wanted' militant". BBC News. 24 May 2019. Retrieved 4 July 2019.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Terrorists in Kashmir: Army releases list of 12 most wanted terrorists in Kashmir Valley - India News". The Times of India. 2 June 2017. Archived from the original on 12 November 2020. Retrieved 2 June 2017.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Al-Qaida-linked cell Ansar Ghazwat-Ul-Hind announces Zakir Musa as its chief in Kashmir". Times of India. 27 July 2017.
  6. Zee Media Bureau (1 April 2017). "Burhan Wani's successor, Zakir Musa, provoked attacks against J&K police, called stone-pelters soldiers of Islam". Zee News.
  7. "Burhan Wani 'successor' posts video, seeks support of Kashmiris". 18 August 2016.
  8. "Hizbul Mujahideen projects Zakir Rashid Bhat as mujahideen Burhan Wani's successor in Kashmir - News Nation". 18 August 2016.
  9. "How different is Hizul Mujahideen's Zakir Rashid than his predecessor Burhan Wani ? - Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis". 18 August 2016.
  10. "Hizbul Mujahideen projects Zakir Rashid Bhat as Wani's successor". 18 August 2016.
  11. "Kashmir's disturbing new reality - the young militants of Kashmir".
  12. Zee Media Bureau (15 May 2017). "With Call For 'Islamic Rule', Zakir Musa May Have Signalled Ideological Split in Kashmir Terrorism". The Wire (Indian web publication).
  13. "Zakir Musa Quits Hizbul Mujahideen Day After Threatening To Kill Hurriyat Leaders". News 18.
  14. "Local Militant Group Claims It Informed Police About Hizb Commander Sabzar Bhat's Whereabout". Outlook. 2 June 2017.
  15. Rahul Kanwal (30 May 2017). "Was Sabzar Bhatt betrayed by boss Zakir Musa? Intel inputs suggest rift among Kashmiri terrorists". India Today. Retrieved 5 July 2019. 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 the 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 in an encounter close to his hometown of Tral.
  16. "J&K: Stone-pelters help cornered terrorist Zakir Musa flee". Times of India. 12 August 2017.
  17. Wani, Fayaz (1 September 2017). "Al Qaeda Kashmir head slams Pakistan for betraying Kashmir 'jehad', warns India". The New Indian Express.
  18. Pandit, M. Saleem (18 September 2017). "Hizbul blames Zakir Musa for 'helping forces kill Kashmiris'". Times of India.
  19. "Homecoming of Pandits in Kashmir's new age of militancy". Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  20. "Burhan Wani's successor requests Kashmiri Pandits to return, assures safety". Hindustan Times. 18 October 2016. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  21. 21.0 21.1 "Zakir Musa: Tensions in Kashmir after killing of top rebel". Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  22. "Zakir Musa: India's 'most wanted' militant killed in Kashmir". BBC News. 24 May 2019.
  23. "Zakir Musa, Jammu and Kashmir's most wanted militant, killed in encounter: Police". Hindustan Times. 23 May 2019.
  24. 24.0 24.1 Ben Farmer (24 May 2019). "Killing of 'most wanted' al-Qaeda linked Kashmir militant sparks protest". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 4 July 2019.
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