April 2003 News

Kashmiris Are Second Fiddlers In Pak-promoted Terrorism

13 April 2003
The Daily Excelsior
Samuel Baid

Jammu: Between March 23 and 24, two terror incidents of far-reaching political consequences took place in Kashmir. In the first case, former Chief Commander Hizbul Mujahideen Abdul Majid Dar was gunned down in Sopore by militants who allegedly belonged to an unknown organization, which called itself 'Save Kashmir Movement.' In the second incident, 24 Kashmiri Pandits were shot dead in Nadimarg, Pulwama. On the face of it, there appears no inter-relation between the two incidents. Perhaps there is. It would appear those who conspired the murder of Dar had also simultaneously conspired the subsequent massacre of Kashmiri Pandits as an effort to drown large- scale public reaction to and debate on the first incident. In other words, the organisers of the two terror incidents were possibly the same people. It is no secret that Dar's murder climaxed about three years of his confrontation with Pakistan-based chief of Hizbul Mujahideen, Syed Salahuddin. This confrontation had been going on in different intensifies since July 2000 when Dar made an out-of-the blue ceasefire announcement. One could not believe one's ears. But that it was Salahuddin admitted the announcement was made with his approval. Indian Government at once expressed its willingness to talk to 'our own people.' New Delhi appreciated the fact that a majority of Hizb's members were Kashmiris. As a result, direct talks started between the representatives of the Government of India and the Hizb. This was also confirmed by Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party Chief Shabir Ahmad Shah who claimed that the ceasefire announced by Dar was not his brainchild but effected on the instructions of Syed Salahuddin and Dar had taken into confidence all leaders before announcing the ceasefire. Shabir Shah even lambasted the Hurriyat Conference for its silence over Dar's killing which had unnecessarily raised suspicion over his character and he was seen by many as a traitor instead of a front ranking freedom fighter that he was. But it was here a large section of the Kashmiri constituents of the Hizb realised they were engaged not in their own fight for freedom but in Pakistan's proxy war in which they were being used only as fodder. The talks between New Delhi and Hizb representatives made Islamabad nervous. Jamaat-e-Islami Chief Qazi Hussain Ahmed, who was then in the USA, was asked to return at once. Salahuddin and other Occupied Kashmir-based Hizb militants were severely reprimanded for having forgotten all that the Jamaat did for them. Salahuddin was asked to immediately instruct Dar to call-off the talks with New Delhi if Pakistan was not made a party. These direct talks would have put Pakistan's self-assumed role as the sole advocate of the Kashmiris to nought. Salahuddin, who has been enjoying Pakistan's hospitality in Occupied Kashmir, understandably could not defy these orders. But Dar, whose men faced the main brunt of the confrontation against the Indian Army in Kashmir, was not convinced. He made angry statements saying his men could not take orders from those who sat in safe conditions across the LoC. He and his men were convinced they were engaged in a losing battle against the Indian army. They were also aware of the overwhelming public opinion in Kashmir is in favour of peace. Dar's resistance cost him his position as the Chief Commander and in May 2002 Dar and many top Hizb Commanders, who supported him, were expelled at the instance of Jamaat-e-Islami. Dar revived his Tehrik-e-Jihad, which he had merged with the Hizb in 1993 on condition that the organization would represent the entire Kashmiri population i.e. Kashmiri population in PoK, too. This condition was accepted but never implemented because Pakistan advanced a new-found specious argument that the Kashmir problem related only to that part of the State which was with India. Incidentally, the Security Council resolutions, by which Pakistan swears, covers whole of the State of Jammu and Kashmir as it existed before its (Pakistan's) invasion in October 1947. Non-fulfilment of the promise that the Hizb would represent whole of the Kashmir population was the first source of conflict between Dar's men and the Hizb leadership headed by Salahuddin. The two groups clashed in 1997 killing each other's members. The hostility intensified further after the July 2000 ceasefire announcement. Pro-Salahuddin camp called Dar a RAW agent and floated rumours that his dispute with Salahuddin would cost him his life. On March 23 when Pakistan was celebrating the Pakistan Day, these rumours proved well-founded. The Hizb split further. It will be wrong to presume that the elimination of Dar has strengthened Salahuddin's position. Reports from Muzaffarabad say about 400 supporters of Dar reacted angrily against Salahuddin as the news of his (Dar's) murder spread. They held Salahuddin responsible for the murder and formed their own faction of the Hizb. Now Salahuddin heads only truncated faction of the Hizb and carries the stigma of eliminating a fellow Hizb leader. If his patrons, i.e. the ISI through Jamaat-e-Islami want, they can drop him for these two reasons. In fact, the Hizb stands so discredited that it is easy now for ISI to drop the Hizb in favour of a new militant organization with greater non- Kashmiri content or change the complexion of the existing Hizb by replacing Kashmiri leaders with Pakistani elements. In view of ISI's political activities in Pakistan, it will not be a far-fetched presumption that it is this very agency that is destroying the Hizb to discredit its Kashmiri leaders. It has been the ISI's practice to use and discard militant organizations in Kashmir like dirty shirts. Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) Chief Amanullah Khan told Urdu daily Jang in 1991 that the Pak army first used his party to start terrorist activities in Kashmir and then dropped it in favour of pro-Pakistan fundamentalist groups. Then many of these groups were discarded and more and more Pakistani and Afghan terrorists inducted. They played havoc in Kashmiri in 1995. Their main target then were the symbols of Kashmiriyat. The Hizb has been the largest militant group which also has the longest number of Kashmiri although they operate under the orders of the ISI directly or through the non-Kashmiri leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami. Dar has been trying to assert himself as a Kashmiri leaders. His murders have given a message to Kashmiris that they have only a secondary position in the Kashmir insurgency.


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