Zakir Rashid Bhat alias Zakir Musa was an engineering student in 2013 when he joined Hizb-ul-Mujahideen that was then led by Burhan Wani. Both hailed from Tral.
Zakir, 25, came from a well-off family. His father Abdul Rashid Bhat is a retired assistant executive engineer. His elder brother Shakir Rashid Bhat is an orthopedic surgeon and his sister Shaheena Rashid Bhat is a bank employee.
Born on July 25, 1994, Zakir did his schooling at Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya in Pulwama and Noor Public School till class 10. He then went to the government higher secondary school Noorpora and passed class 12 in 2011. One of his school teachers said he was a bright student.
In 2012, he left for Chandigarh to pursue engineering at Ram Dev Jindal College but left it midway to join militancy.
“He used to wear trendy clothes and was fond of electronic gadgets like smartphones, cameras and iPods,” said one of his childhood friends. He was a close associate of Burhan.
Nearly a year after Burhan’s death, Zakir parted ways with the outfit and formed Ansar Ghazwat ul Hind, an Al Qaeda affiliate and which, according to police, is mostly confined to police district Awantipora.
He left Hizb because in May he threatened the separatist leadership with dire consequences if they continue to call “Kashmir struggle as a political struggle” rather than a religious one aimed at establishing Islamic rule. The Hizb, however, distanced itself from this statement and termed it as Zakir’s personal view.
In November last year, Musa suffered a heavy blow after he lost his two close associates named Sauliha Muhammad Akhoon and Shakir Hassan. Both had joined militancy in 2015 and were close associates of slain rebel commander Burhan Wani. When Musa, who was pictured with Burhan in Tral jungles, decided to part ways with Hizb, the duo followed him.
As per police he was listed as A++ category militant in police records and carried a bounty of Rs 12 lakh on his head.
“It is a major success for us because we have managed to eliminate the founder of a militant outfit. It is clear now that Musa’s killing will wipe out the Ansar outfit in the valley,” said a police officer.
An army officer, requesting anonymity, said Zakir’s killing left his outfit of seven to eight newly-recruited militants leaderless.
“After Zakir’s death the outfit cannot sustain for long,” he said.
HE DIED IN THE HOUSE WHERE HIS STUDIO WAS BUSTED in 2016
Zakir Musa was on Thursday evening trapped and later gunned down in the same house in which his makeshift studio was busted by the security forces in December 2016.
The house belongs to Mudasir Ahmad Gurnoo. The studio was raided on December 2, 2016, when Zakir was heading Hizb following the killing of Burhan Wani, a police official said.
He said the security forces had then found material and articles used by Zakir to record videos.
“A combat jacket and other material used by him in different videos and photographs were also recovered,” the police official said.
The studio had been busted only a day after Zakir released a video on social media in which he threatened police officers.
“You have made a huge mistake by messing with our families. A huge mistake by involving them,” Zakir had said in the video message.
After the raid, the house owner evaded arrest for some time, but was apprehended and booked under PSA.
“He was released after two years,” the police official said.