October 2001 News

Hardliner beats ‘soft’ incumbent to Hizbul chief post

28 October 2001
The Statesman

Jammu: The Hizbul Mujahideen’s chief operations commander, Abdul Majid Dar, has been removed from his post. Saiful Islam, a hardliner considered close to Hizbul supreme commander, Syed Salahuddin, has replaced him. The J&K police chief, Mr Ashok Kumar Suri, believes this change in leadership would not make any difference to the police. The Army and para-military forces, however, said Dar’s sacking was part Salahuddin’s strategy to relaunch his group in the Valley in a more aggresseive and ferocious manner. Reports of feud between Majid Dar, a moderate, and his supreme commander surfaced last year after Dar declared a unilateral ceasefire without Salahuddin’s approval. Salahuddin did not approve of this ceasefire but remained silent at that time. Rumours about the replacement of all the four Hizbul commanders - Majid Dar, Masood, Farooq Mircha and Jaffer - who participated in the negotiations between the Home ministry officials after the 24 July unilateral ceasefire, surfaced three months ago. Highly placed sources told The Statesman that Salahuddin sacked Masood, HM spokesman and Dar’s deputy and brought in Umer Javeed. Farooq Mircha, Kupawara divisional commander, was replaced by one Imtiyaz. Ajmal Khan, ex-deputy chief of Green army, came in place of Commander Jaffer. All the new commanders took over on 1 July this year. But they were reportedly facing problems in their operations. A couple of months ago there were rumours of Dar being replaced by Ghulam Hassan. But his replacement was announced officially by the Hizbul spokesman in Pakistan yesterday. Salahuddin, presently in Islamabad, was very close to Dar in the initial years. There have been differences between them but matters worsened after reports that Dar had become close to the Intelligence agencies. Dar’s positioned was further weakened by the recent death of his confidante, Commander Masood alias Abdul Hamid Tantray, by the Special Operations Group of J&K Police. His trusted aide, Farooq Mircha, went missing from Kupwara on 25 August. Dar’s sacking would be a shot in the arm for those hardliners of the outfit opposed to his style of functioning Salahuddin removed Dar because he was planning to launch a major offensive in Jammu and Kashmir, sources said. More action was demanded from the Hizbul cadres in the Valley, which was not there under Dar’s command,” Mr Rajinder Singh Bhullar, DIG, BSF, said. The state would now see an increase in militant activities in the state, he said. “We apprehend an increase in Hizbul activities in Anantnag, Bandipore, parts of Baramullah and Yusmarg.” Till now, the outfit has executed one fidayeen attack in Magam area of Budgam distrct on the Gulmarg-Srinagar road . 24 killed in violence: Twelve militants, an assistant commandant of BSF and two Jammu and Kashmir police officers were among 24 people killed overnight in separate encounters in Kashmir valley, official sources said, adds PTI from Srinagar. A group of heavily-armed militants fired five rockets towards Awantipora Army Headquarters in Pulwama district of south Kashmir shortly after midnight last night, but no casualty was reported in the shoot-out that followed. All the five rockets fell outside the army installation, housing the headquarters of Victor Force, which coordinates and supervises anti-militant operations in south Kashmir districts of Anantnag and Pulwama and parts of Badgam.


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