Why Pakistan-backed The Resistance Front has become biggest headache of security forces in Kashmir

Why Pakistan-backed The Resistance Front has become biggest headache of security forces in Kashmir

The Resistance Front (TRF) was formed online after the abrogation of Article 370 in 2019. A front for the Lashkar-e-Taiba, TRF has become the most active outfit in the Kashmir valley and has the support of the Pakistani state machinery. Wednesday’s Anantnag gunfight is just another example.

The Resistance Front (TRF) came into existence in 2019 and was banned under the stringent UAPA by India only this year

On February 26, Sanjay Sharma was headed for the local market in Kashmir’s Pulwama with his wife when terrorists fired at him. Sharma, who worked as a security guard, was rushed to hospital but succumbed to the bullet injuries. The terrorists behind Sharma’s killing belonged to The Resistance Front (TRF).

The only reason TRF chose to kill Sharma was because he was a Kashmiri Pandit.

Since 2019, when the group came into existence, The Resistance Front has been involved in dozens of terror attacks, especially those targeted at the minority Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley.

The terror outfit, banned just this year under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), has become one of the biggest headaches of security forces in Jammu and Kashmir.

Terrorists of the TRF are believed to have been involved in Wednesday’s (September 13) gunfight in which an Army Colonel, a Major and a Deputy Superintendent of Police lost their lives in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag district. The effort to eliminate the terrorists in the forested region of Kokernag is on.

What Is The Resistance Front?

The government says The Resistance Front is indeed a front organisation for the deadly terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). The LeT grew with the blessings and active support of the Pakistani state machinery, which its offshoot is now receiving.

In January this year, the government banned the terror outfit under UAPA and declared its commander, Sheikh Sajjad Gul, a terrorist under the fourth schedule of the UAPA.

Gul, who hails from Rose Avenue colony in Srinagar, is suspected to be behind the conspiracy to kill Kashmiri journalist Shujaat Bukhari in June 2018.

“The Resistance Front (TRF) is a proxy outfit of the terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Taiba and came into existence in 2019,” the Home Ministry told the Rajya Sabha in March, responding to a question seeking details of outfits that had been notified as terrorist organisations under the UAPA in 2023.

“The TRF has been involved in planning of killings of security force personnel and innocent civilians of Jammu and Kashmir, co-ordinating and transporting weapons to support proscribed terrorist organisations, recruitment of terrorists, infiltration of terrorists and smuggling of weapons and narcotics from across the border,” it said.

TRF Behind Anantnag Gunfight

A day after the ban, TRF released a “hit list” and warned it would target those on the list.

The Resistance Front or TRF, which is among the 44 terrorist organisations that have been proscribed under the UAPA till February, has become the most active among all terror outfits operating in India. The Resistance Front is involved in psychological operations on social media platforms for inciting the people of Jammu and Kashmir to join terrorist outfits against the government.

The Resistance Front (TRF) also issued threats to the minority Sikh community in Jammu and Kashmir. In January, TRF warned that Sikh youths working as Special Police Officers (SPOs) would be labelled RSS agents and targeted.

On February 28, one of the TRF terrorists who killed Sanjay Sharma, a Kashmiri Pandit, was killed in an encounter. In fact, Aqib Mustaq Bhat was one of the two terrorists to be killed in an encounter with security forces in Awantipora. Two security personnel were injured in the encounter.

Apart from targeting civilians, TRF has been engaging with security forces in pitched gun battles.

Wednesday’s gunfight in Anantnag in which two Army officers and a police officer were killed is an example.

Why Was TRF Formed?

In August 2019, the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi abrogated Article 370, which granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

It was after the abrogation of Article 370 that The Resistance Front came into existence as an online entity. After about six months of online existence, TRF became a physical entity with the amalgamation of terrorists from several outfits, including the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). Its birth happened with active collaboration of the Pakistan Army and the ISI.

As to why TRF was formed? One needs to remember that Pakistan was under tremendous pressure to come clean on terror funding by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The Paris-based watchdog for money laundering and terrorist financing had put Pakistan on its grey list.

Pakistan couldn’t be seen aiding LeT and its chief Hafiz Saeed, who had gained international notoriety.

To mask the funding and support, the Pakistani machinery and its terror network created The Resistance Front.

The name was coined to give it the colour of a local resistance, and not a religious armed outfit.

Most Active Terror Group In Kashmir

The reason that The Resistance Front claims responsibility for most attacks in Jammu and Kashmir is to keep the heat off the LeT. It mostly uses the funding channels of the LeT.

What makes TRF, the rebranded LeT, the most active and dangerous?

In its annual report for 2022, the Jammu and Kashmir Police said 172 terrorists, including 42 foreign nationals, were killed in over 90 operations by security forces in Kashmir in 2022.

Of the terrorists killed in the Valley, most (108) belonged to The Resistance Front or Lashkar-e-Taiba. Also, of the 100 men who joined terrorist groups, 74 were recruited by TRF, which shows the growing threat from the Pakistan-backed terrorist group.