Hizbul commanders in J&K recalled to PoK camp
23 November 2001
The Daily Excelsior
Srinagar: In a bid to end factionalism within Hizbul Mujahideen, its Pakistan- based supreme commander Syed Salahuddin today recalled the commanders in Jammu and Kashmir, led by Abdul Majid Dar, to the militant outfit’s base camp at Muzzafarabad in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and pledged support to the new leadership headed by Saif-ul-Islam. Alarmed at the war of words among its top leaders, the command council of Hizbul Mujahideen today met in PoK, and unanimously decided to recall all former commanders led by Dar, a spokesman of the outfit said in a statement in the backdrop of serious differences within the dominant militant group in J&K in the recent weeks. ''The decision taken on October 26 is valid and all former commanders are asked to report to the base camp immediately after handing over their charges to the newly appointed commanders,'' he said after the meeting. In a sign of support from Salahuddin for the new leadership of the group in Jammu and Kashmir, the spokesman said the command council made it clear that there would be no change in the earlier decision which appointed Saif-ul-Islam as the new chief commander of the outfit in the Valley in place of Dar, besides other changes in the Valley-based leadership. The Hizbul command council had replaced Dar, along with several other top commanders, on October 26, in what it described as a ''routine affair,'' triggering a controversy. Though the local commanders did not raise their voice against the decision, the differences within the outfit came to light when its divisional commander and a close associate of Dar, Asad Yazdani, said on Tuesday that the outfit was ready to consider a ceasefire and start a dialogue with the Centre. In a statement, Yazdani also said that Hizbul was planning to launch a political party and asked the Pakistan-based militant outfits to remain subservient to the local policy makers. This evoked sharp criticism from Hizbul spokesman Junaid-ul-Islam who disowned the statement and said Yazdani was not holding any charge in the outfit at present. The crisis further deepened with former Hizbul divisional commander Zaffar Abdul Fateh sharply criticising the new spokesman of the outfit and saying the decision of the command council to replace commanders with a new set had not been implemented in Jammu and Kashmir so far. Meanwhile, Saif- ul-Islam in a statement to local press vowed to continue the jehadi (militant) activities across Jammu and Kashmir till the goal of ''freedom'' is achieved. ''The outfit will intensify its activities in the State,'' he said and warned the Special Operations Group (SOG) of local police of serious consequences if it did not stop what he called ''targetting the families of active militants'' in the State.