September 2003 News

HM In Reverse Gear?

9 September 2003
The Daily Excelsior

Jammu: Why should Hizbul Mujahideen resume its negative role? It is tragic, indeed, that a militant organisation which had shown signs of maturity in the altered global scenario is returning to its old ways. By owing responsibility for the car-bomb explosion at the Parimpora fruit and vegetable market in Srinagar, HM has sent a signal that it can't give up its original violent mindset. Only a few days ago, we had expressed apprehension in these columns that terrorists might attack the crowded places in Jammu and Kashmir in their current murderous spree. Pan-Islamic militant outfits are desperate after the killing of Jaish-e-Mohammad commander Gazi Baba. However, few thought that HM would engineer the blast that killed seven persons and injured more that 30 sending shock waves across the State. Assumption that an Army party belonging to the Gulmarg- based High Altitude Warfare School was actually the target of the terrorist's designs does not seem to be entirely true given the fact that the car used in the blast was parked close to the busy market on the Srinagar-Baramulla road. Planners of the strike could not have been unaware that an explosion would cause civilian casualties. An intended aim, therefore, was to create general scare. It is bewildering that HM should have attempted to do it. The much-dreaded outfit at one time, HM did not wish to be even remotely seen having any association with the September 11, 2000 attacks on WTC towers in New York. Wisely enough, it had been lying low since then. Not only that, it had also launched two major initiatives with the twin objective of getting rid of its terror image and restoring peace in the State. For long it had observed a unilateral truce. In a bold move, a significant section of its leadership had also entered into negotiations with the Central Government. Quite a few moderate leaders like Fazal Qureshi were persuaded to help as mediators in the negotiations which were scuttled midway by the vested interests on both the sides. Both the moves, nevertheless, had added to the credibility which HM already enjoyed as an organisation of the local Kashmiri youth and not of the foreign mercenaries. It was generally felt that at last the guilt of the killings of their own innocent brethren had weighed on the conscience of HM leadership. The outfit had kept off major strikes although it did figure in a few stray incidents of planting improvised explosive devices on the roads. In fact, its last reported major strike was in August 10, 2000; at that time also it had caused a car-bomb explosion killing 15 persons on Srinagar's posh Residency Road. Hope that the sanity would prevail has been gradually belied and now given the final burial. One of the top HM commanders, Majid Dar, who had entered into talks with the Central Government, was assassinated this year as if to serve a warning signal against any positive change of heart. Where does HM go from Parimpora? Motivated by the retrogadory fundamentalist ideology of Jamat-e-Islami (J&K), HM had come into existence in the 1990's as an outfit opposed to Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF). Many believe that HM was armed to teeth by forces across the Line of Control to cut JKLF to size after the Liberation Front had served its purpose by triggering terrorist violence in Kashmir, in particular. Representing conflicting ideologies, two militant organisations clashed with each other resulting in the loss of life on both sides. JKLF apparently realised that discretion was the better part of valour and announced a unilateral cease-fire which it continues to observe even today. The fear now is that by again opting for murderous methods HM would shut the doors on those who were desperately seeking to involve it in peace moves. People's Democratic Party leader Mehbooba Mufti has openly sought the organisation's involvement in the talks. The Central Government has reiterated that it was not averse to talking to any organisation which gives up violence. HM has everything to lose by adopting a reverse gear. Why does it not understand that it is hara-kiri to set one's own house on fire? It is surprising that just close to the second anniversary of the global war against terrorism, HM has chosen to send a wrong signal.


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