Kulgam: Waseem Ahmad Rather, a resident of Ashmuji in south Kashmir’s Kulgam, had completed a Master’s in English and was pursuing a doctorate before joining the militant ranks. 

On Sunday security forces gunned down five terrorists in Kulgam district in Jammu and Kashmir and Rather was one of them. He was the face of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and was polluting young minds in the valley to wage war. 

Recently, the photograph of the Ph.D. scholar-turned-militant went viral on social media with a message asking young people to the banned terror outfits and fight against the army. 

In the photo, Rather could be seen wearing a traditional Kashmiri attire called Pheran and holding an AK-47 rifle.

Security agencies believe that Rather’s killing will be again misused by militants to spread their propaganda. According to officials, he joined militancy in May 2018. He quickly became the face of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen as he was highly educated and like Manaan Bashir Wani he could influence others. He was popular among local as Dr Zeeshan.

As per reports, Rather took up arms following the death of his close friend Adil Ahmed, who was killed during clashes near an encounter site on May 6, 2018. Ahmed was a CRPF jawan before he quit his job and started working as a teacher. During the clashes at Badigam encounter in which terrorist Saddam Padder was killed, Adil was shot dead along with four other civilians. It was during Adil’s funeral, Rather was last seen publically.  

In Jammu and Kashmir, the biggest challenge before the security forces is to keep a check on youth joining militancy. 

In the year 2018, close to 200 youngsters joined terror outfits. However, the security forces claim that there has been a slowdown in recruitment due to their continuous efforts and elimination of top terrorist faces like Saddam Padder, Sameer Tiger, Dr Manan Wani, Naveed Jatt, Dr Sabzar and Azad Malik in 2018.