Two faces of Kashmir's struggle - political and religious were demarked on Friday when a top Hizbul Mujahideen leader Zakir Musa warned Hurriyat leaders that their heads will be chopped off and hung in the Lal Chowk in Srinagar for interfering in the militant group's "struggle for Islam".
The threat, which came in form of a video clip, is likely the first against the Hurriyat leadership, who are acknowledged to represent the political views of a section of Kashmiris.
The video clip contained a montage of slides showing Islamic quotes about Islam and Sharia. The person who is heard in the clip is not shown. He did not identify himself but is believed to be of local Hizbul Mujahideen commander Zakir Musa.
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In the audio, Zakir is heard saying: "I am warning all those hypocrite Hurriyat leaders. They must not interfere in our Islamic struggle. If they do, we will cut their heads and hang them in Lal Chowk".
The militant leader asserted that his outfit was clear in its motives of "fighting to impose a Shariat in Kashmir and not resolving the Kashmir issue by calling it a political struggle".
"Those leaders should know that the struggle is for Islam, for Shariat," he was heard saying in the over five-minute audio clip. The authencity of the video clip could not be confirmed.
"We all should love our religion and we should realise that we are fighting for Islam. If the Hurriyat leaders think it is not so, then why have we been hearing the slogan 'Azaadi ka matlab kya - La ilaha il Allah', why have they (Hurriyat groups) been using mosques in their politics?" Zakir is heard saying on the clip.
Hizbul Mujahideen leader's reaction comes in response to a joint statement issued by hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani and two moderates -- Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Mallik -- that the freedom struggle in Kashmir has nothing to do with ISIS or al Qaeda.
The Hizbul Mujahideen has been waging a silent battle to upstage the Hurriyat Conference since the 2016 uprising. Last week, the militant outfit also released a statement asking women protesters to not come on the roads to protest.
Militants from the group are also believed to be behind the killing of Kashmiri Army officer Ummer Fayaz earlier this week.
The Urdu-language slideshow includes stills and quotes of jailed Indonesian national Abu Bakar Bashir and Yemeni resident Anwar al-Awlaki -- seen as the brains behind ISIS and Al-Qaeda activities.
Senior police officials believed it was Musa's voice in the slideshow and said the banned ISIS terror group could be trying to create a base in the Valley.
In a statement on Friday, Hizbul Mujahideen supreme commander Syed Sallahuddin also said there was no place for groups such as ISIS, Al-Qaeda or the Taliban in Jammu and Kashmir.
"This movement is purely local and indigenous. It has no international agenda. Al Qaeda, Daesh or Taliban have no involvement or role in Kashmir," he said.