Rival Kashmir guerrillas slug it out in Doda
23 November 2006
Indo-Asian News Service
Doda : Their differences deepening, Jammu and Kashmir's two leading militant groups, Hizbul Mujahedeen (HM) and Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), are locked in a bloody battle for supremacy in this border district of Doda that has been a major hub of anti-India insurgents.Intelligence sources say there is a discernible pattern in the rivalry. Neither group is willing to accept the leadership of the other. More importantly, trust between the two pro-Pakistan groups has reached an all time low.The Hizbul cadres largely comprise local militants with a sprinkling of foreigners while LeT's ranks are predominantly Pakistanis.To substantiate their claim of inter-group hostility, intelligence officials point to the trail of killings in this thickly forested district - the third largest in the state after Leh and Kargil. They say the August killing of Hindu militant Kuldeep Sharma, an HM commander, was a result of these differences.'The LeT abducted him a week before he was killed (on Aug 24),' a well-placed source said. 'The information about his abduction and killing was given by the rival group to the security agencies.'The same was the case with Tariq Usman Sheikh alias Wafadar, the district commander of HM for Doda who was killed July 3. Earlier, local militants would be part of the LeT ranks but of late neither was willing to accept the supremacy of the other. 'They do not trust each other any more,' said an intelligence source.Just last month, Javed Burky, a divisional commander of HM, was killed near Thathri, 30 km north of Doda town.Said a security official. 'All these commanders killed were local militants.'The turf war between the two groups has now manifested in propaganda being spread against the LeT, resulting in posters mysteriously appearing in far-flung areas of Doda.'Local militants have circulated posters against mercenaries (foreign militants) in Marmat and Doda towns,' the source said. The posters issued by HM commanders have urged the youth not to accept the supremacy of foreigners in 'tanzeems' (outfits). Some of these posters put up at mosques say: 'These foreign mercenaries, especially the LET, are committing atrocities on locals and bringing a bad name to locals, blemishing our cause and misbehaving with our women. 'We should neither help them nor cooperate with them as they are weakening our cause,' one poster said.According to the security establishment, another reason for the overt antagonism could be the dwindling manpower within the outfits.