Tribune News Service
New Delhi, October 11
With intelligence inputs indicating that a religious school in Shopian has been pushing students towards terrorism, security forces involved in anti-terror operations in Jammu and Kashmir have been keeping a close watch on it. An internal report has stated that in the recent past 13 of its students were found to have joined banned outfits.
Without identifying the school’s name, officials said Sajjad Bhat, an accused in the February 2019 Pulwama attack that left 40 personnel dead, was an alumnus of the institution.
The school’s students mainly hail from Kulgam, Pulwama and Anantnag districts of south Kashmir, considered by intelligence agencies to be the hotbeds of militancy and breeding grounds for recruitment of locals into various terror groups, officials said.
It also had outstation students from Uttar Pradesh, Kerala and Telangana, but their number dropped to almost nil after abrogation of Article 370 last year, the officials said.
According to an official, since most students and faculty at the school hail from the terror-infected districts of Shopian and Pulwama, the ideology of terrorism might be thriving there and in turn affecting the students belonging to other places too.
He said the outside environment, local population, terror-related activities and regular encounters of militants also played a role in propagating the ideology of terrorism.
During investigation of the ghastly attack of February 14 last year when a suicide bomber rammed an explosive-laden car into a CRPF convoy killing 40 personnel, the intelligence agencies found that Bhat, whose vehicle was used in the attack, had done his schooling from this religious institute in Shopian district.
The list of the institute’s students involved in terrorism started expanding with the death of Zubair Nengroo, a so-called commander of the banned Al-Badr terror organisation, in August this year. Nengroo too was a student of the same religious school.
According to the internal report, there are at least 13 listed terrorists and hundreds of overground workers (OGWs) who are either students or alumni of this institute. Recently a youth from Baramulla went missing while returning to the school from his home after vacation. It was later found that he had joined terrorist ranks.
“Most of these 13 terrorists are natives of Shopian and Pulwama,” the report said. Besides Bhat and Nengroo, the list of 13 alumni includes Hizbul Mujahideen militant Nazim Nazir Dar, and Aijaz Ahmad Paul, who was gunned down by security forces in an encounter on August 4 in Shopian.
(With inputs from PTI)