With over 140 militants already killed this year in the ongoing anti-militancy operations, Hizbul Mujahideen operational commander Riyaz Naikoo has banned its cadre “from using mobile phones to minimise the losses”.“It seems they [Hizbul militants] have damaged their old SIM cards. It’s not possible for them to survive without mobile phones. They have either managed new numbers or are staying without mobile phones,” said Inspector General of Police Muneer Khan.Sources said the killing of Hizb operations commander Yasin Itoo alias Mehmood Ghaznavi in an encounter in Shopian on August 13 had “struck a major blow to striking capability of Hizb” in south Kashmir.A top counter-insurgency official said that after Itoo’s killing, the new commander Naikoo has taken centre stage, and “is trying to keep the organisation’s ranks intact and disallow any defection to the more hard-line group led by Zakir Musa, who claims to represent the Kashmir arm of al-Qaeda”.In a bid to “revive striking capability”, Naikoo has asked militants to “surrender their mobile phones”.“In case of suspension of use of mobile phones, the police too will chalk out a fresh strategy to track them down. The ‘Operation All-Out’ will continue,” said IGP Khan.For the counter-insurgency team in Kashmir, mobile phones had become a handy tool to track militants. Sources said that the militants’ online activi-sm, wherein photos, audios, and videos were frequently uploaded on social media, “became a major tool to track them”. Security agencies told The Hindu that the “police had succeeded in planting SIM cards on many militants through its ground force”.Meanwhile, security agencies are closely watching the growing rivalry and online media war between Hizb’s Naikoo and Musa. Concerned by Musa’s growing following online, and to counter his “speeches based on Islamic teachings,” Naikoo recently released a 45-minute video on the political and historical background of the Kashmir issue.