April 2003 News

HM Factionalism Boils Over To Bloodletting

6 April 2003
The Daily Excelsior

New Delhi: A lead to the whereabouts of Hizbul Mujahideen chief operational commander Saiful-Islam was provided by a man close to slain commander Abdul Majid Dar, indicative of the growing internecine war. According to sources, Islam alias Ghulam Hassan Khan, who was shot dead at Chanpora in Srinagar within ten days of Dar's killing, did not evoke confidence among the cadres despite being a close confidante of Hizb supremo Syed Salahuddin. The factional rivalry, which has now boiled over into full-scale bloodletting, is attributed to the July 2000 ceasefire announced by Dar, who was the then chief operations commander in Jammu and Kashmir. Dar, shot dead on March 23 in Sopore in Kashmir, was considered a moderate and had differences with hardliner Salahuddin. According to the sources these differences were the 'main reason' for Dar's murder. The sources said the Hizb circles in the Valley were rife with reports of Dar's departure to Pakistan- occupied-Kashmir (PoK) and Salahuddin's ouster as the chief of the insurgent group. Before eliminating influential Dar supporters, including deputy commander Masood Tantray, Abdul Zaffar and Farooq Mircha, Salahuddin replaced them with his confidants. The sources said the ceasefire decision was not Dar's individual initiative as was subsequently projected by Salahuddin supporters. 'It was a collective decision of the Hizb command council taken after a series of deliberations towards the end of 1999,' they added. The ceasefire call was thought of as a fresh path breaking initiative by the command council, the sources said. 'Salahuddin believed the Centre would not respond positively and it would enable the United Jehad Council to reiterate that 'jehad' was the only option in the face of the Government's intransigence,' they added. 'Perhaps what Salahuddin and the ISI controllers did not envisage was the euphoria generated by the ceasefire call in the summer of 2000,' the sources said. 'The Kashmiris, who were tired of the violence and wanted an end to it, saw Dar as a messiah of peace... Which irked Salahuddin,' they added. The sources said Salahuddin, though grudgingly endorsed the ceasefire, the next day gave an untimatum of 15 days to the Centre to accede to three conditions so that the ceasefire could hold. (UNI)


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