The Resistance Front, a “new” terror group that has surfaced in the Kashmir valley, is actually Lashkar-e-Tayyaba with a new name. The Islamabad based individuals, who are managing the social media platform of “Tehreek-EAzaadi”, an offshoot of the Lashkar, are also handling the social media accounts of “The Resistance Front” or TRF. While TRF, through its messaging on social media, has been portraying itself as an indigenous Kashmir based group, a cyber forensic analysis of the social media platforms of TRF by independent cyber experts, has proved beyond doubt that TRF is nothing but an offshoot or a branch of Lashkar. The administrators of the Facebook page of TRF, in August 2019, had called for an anti-India protest at DChowk in Islamabad.
TRF came into prominence after, in a hand to hand combat that took place on 5 April in the Keran sector in North Kashmir’s Kupwara, the elite 4 Para unit of the Indian Army lost five of its men. The team, which was also a part of the 2016 surgical strike team, killed five of the terrorists who had sneaked into India on the intervening night of 1-2 April. Later, TRF released a propaganda video, which also included a statement by one of the five terrorists, Sajjad Ahmed, a resident of Shopian, on multiple social media platforms. The statement of the terrorist, which was recorded days before he was killed in the encounter, clearly shows that it was meant for an international audience as the terrorist is seen ranting about how the United Nations had “failed” Kashmir.
The propaganda video also claims, falsely, that the five TRF terrorists who were killed by the Indian Army had killed 24 Indian soldiers before “falling”. The family members of the slain Sajjad have claimed that he had left the house in April 2018, saying that he had got a job in Saudi Arabia. The multiple statements shared by “Commander Hamza”, the leader of the TRF, eulogising his men, too have originated from internet devices being used in Pakistan. The group’s Facebook page, was created on 26 August 2019 from an IP address that was traced to Islamabad. However, at the time, the page was working under the name of “Tehreek-EAzaadi”.
Tehreek-e-Azaadi’s name had come to the fore in February 2017, after Lashkar’s political wing, Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) was and the men behind JuD decided to launch the same with a new name, as has been the modus operandi of the Pakistan based terror groups which they regularly use to bypass international scrutiny. According to Delhi based security experts, Lashkar and their handlers functioning from GHQ, Rawalpindi, are worried over the relative calm in the valley and hence are looking for ways and means to stir up trouble. “Pakistan is facing a lot of international heat over Masood Azhar and Hafiz Saeed and hence cannot publicly use their groups in the valley. To tide over this, they have come up with TRF. Pakistan wants to exploit, as we had anticipated, the anger that is there among a few sections of the local youths over the abrogation of Article 370,” an official with an intelligence agency