March 2003 News

Hizb Legend Majeed Dar Gunned Down At Home In Sopore

23 March 2003
The Daily Excelsior
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

Srinagar: Hizbul Mujahideen's expelled 'chief commander of operations' Abdul Majeed Dar was shot dead by two unidentified gunmen at his home in Noorbagh outskirts of Sopore today. A militant outfit called 'Save Kashmir Movement' has claimed responsibility while labeling Dar as 'an informant of Indian agencies' and 'an enemy of Kashmiri people'. His body was buried at the 'martyrs graveyard' in Sopore where less than one thousand people participated in the funeral. Informed sources in Sopore told EXCELSIOR that Dar had reached at his newly constructed house in Noorbagh outskirts of the apple town at 10.00 a.m. After a long pause of oblivion, he had visited his home to see his mother Shah Begum, brother Fayaz Ahmed Dar (who has been living at the premises and looking after the whole family) and other members of the joint family. As his brother Fayaz Ahmed Dar had gone out to fetch some vegetables from the local market, two unidentified youngsters appeared at his home at 12.15 p.m. They met Shah Begum and asked about her son Fayaz Dar. Though the elderly woman sensed danger and told the duo that Fayaz Dar was somewhere out, both the young men followed her and spotted the lonely Abdul Majeed Dar inside a room. According to Dar's niece Dilshada, the two intruders opened indiscriminate gunfire, killing Majeed Dar on spot. Mother Shah Begum and sister Rehana rushed in to make a desperate attempt to protect Majeed Dar but they too were fired upon. Both the gunmen escaped within seconds. Dar was rushed to Sub District Hospital of Sopore where doctors declared him brought dead. His mother and sister were rushed to a Srinagar hospital for treatment. According to the family members, Dar had reached his home on foot. He had neither any weapon nor a bodyguard. He had almost completely trimmed his black-dyed thick beard possibly to ensure that none recognised him at his hometown. However, the assassins appeared to be well on his track or at least informed about his visit. They made no mistake to shoot him like a lame duck. At 6.00 p.m this evening, his body was buried at the 'martyrs graveyard' near Iqbal Market in Sopore. Less than a thousand people attended the funeral of Majeed Dar, who for years, was Hizbul Mujahideen's legendary hero in the Valley. Due to his impressive mannerism and moderate image, Majeed Dar was extremely popular for several years in Sopore-Baramulla area. As almost all the separatist militant outfits and political leaders maintained silence over Dar's killing, his long time friend and political colleague, Fazal-ul-Haq Qureishi, was the only prominent person in the funeral. Most of the residents in Sopore continued to watch the World Cup final between India and Australia on television sets indoors. According to CNS, someone who identified himself as the spokesman of 'Save Kashmir Movement' Sheikh Tajamul, said over telephone that militants of his group had done away with Majeed Dar. The 'spokesman' described Dar as 'an informant of Indian agencies' and charged him with being 'an enemy of the people of Kashmir'. Dar's daylight killing is widely believed here as a successful operation of the militants loyal to the Hizb 'supreme commander' Syed Salah-ud-din, presently in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. However, Hizb did not come out with any statement over the assassination till late tonight. Some analysts believe that even the Indian intelligence agencies could have eliminated Dar after recent reports that he, according to them, had failed to dislodge Salah-ud-din. According to very recent reports, Dar was on the way of making a patch-up with Salah-ud-din and he was planning to leave for Muzzafarabad in a few days. Fifty-year-old Majeed Dar had shot into prominence when he returned from Pakistan three years ago and announced a unilateral ceasefire with Indian security forces on July 24, 2000. On August 3, a high level team of the Government of India officials, headed by then Union Home Secretary Kamal Pande, visited Srinagar and conducted a meeting with Dar and his lieutenants at Nehru Guest House. However, on August 8, Salah-ud-din gave a Press conference in Islamabad, Pakistan, and withdrew the ceasefire apparently against Dar's wishes. Subsequently, a war of supremacy ensued between Syed Salah-ud-din- who operated from Pakistan and also headed the umbrella of pro-Pakistan Kashmiri militant groups Muttahida Jehad Council-and Majeed Dar, who remained underground in the Valley. Without making any direct statement, the Hizb leadership in Pakistan circulated reports of Dar's alleged alignment with India's Intelligence Bureau and RAW. According to these reports, Dar had grown disillusionment with ISI and Pakistani leadership. On his way back from Pakistan in 2000, he had allegedly met some Indian intelligence officials at Kathmandu and offered his services to them. In the wake of two Hizbul Mujahideen militants' mysterious killing in Pattan and Kupwara, Dar was 'suspended' by Salah-ud-din's group and replaced by Saiful Islam as the Hizb 'chief commander of operations' in Kashmir, on May 4, 2002. Two of his close confidantes, namely Dr Assad Yazdani and Zaffar Abdul Fatah, were also removed. Later, on May 9, 2002, the Hizb leadership expelled two more 'divisional commanders' in south Kashmir. While as Dar and his confidantes were accused of helping security forces and intelligence agencies in eliminating over 100 militants in Kashmir, most of his own loyalists were reportedly eliminated by Salah-ud-din loyalists. According to these unpublished reports, Police and security forces had 'strict instructions from New Delhi' that Majeed Dar's men may not be killed or disturbed in operations. Born in Sopore, Majeed Dar had established intimate relations with Jamaat-e-Islami stalwart, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, after passing Class 12th examination. He had played a key role in Geelani's election campaigns. However, he never opted to become a formal member of the Jamaat-e-Islami. Majeed Dar was one among the five Kashmiri separatists who reached Pakistan clandestinely in 1986 and met Gen Zia-ul-Haq. They proposed struggle for Iranian-type Islamic revolution in Kashmir valley. According to well-placed sources, Gen Zia had assured the group to provide 'moral and material support'. In 1989, Dar played a major role in organising a meeting of 30 separatist activists at Baba Rishi, Tangmarg. The Valley's first ever militant outfit Ansaar-ul-Islam was founded by this group, which however played second fiddle to then popular JKLF. Later, in 1990, Dar founded Tehreek-e-Jehad-e-Islami (TJI). In 1991, TJI merged with Master Ahsan Dar's Hizbul Mujahideen and Dar was given the third highest place. While working as 'deputy supreme commander', 'Military adviser' and 'chief commander of operations', Dar played a significant role in the indoctrination, recruitment, launching and training of Hizb's militants. While managing the Hizb training camps in Pakistan, Dar was the only Kashmiri militant who had direct access to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Gen Musharraf. He had reportedly grown differences and ego problems with ISI functionaries after an indecent episode with his third wife, who is a Kashmiri doctor. He had revealed to his friends how Police in a Pakistani province extorted money from him and did not show any regard to his struggle for Azadi. 2 militants killed Meanwhile, reports available from south Kashmir said that security forces today eliminated two militants of Hizbul Mujahideen in an encounter at Gangda Akhal in the Pirpanjal foothills in Kulgam area. They have been identified as Shariq Ahmed Tantray alias Jaffar S-o Mohammad Abdullah Tantray R-o Nowgam, Banihal, and Liaquat Ali Bhat alias Khalid S-o Ali Mohammad Bhat R-o Theed Harad Banihal. A CRPF soldier of 37 Bn, who had got injured in a mysterious gunfire near Fire Service Headquarters at Batmaloo on Saturday, has succumbed at hospital.


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