Ex-militants To Form Political Outfit
5 September 2007
The Indian Express
Srinagar: For the first time in Kashmir, a new political party comprising former militants and commanders is shaping up. 'The released militants having allegiance with different militant groups will form the core members of our new party,' said Abdul Qadir Dar, who will be heading the political party. Dar was the divisional commander of Al-Jihad for many years before he was arrested. 'We will announce the name of our party within a week' Dar said. Over 200 released militants from different parts of Kashmir held two separate meetings in Sopore and Tangmarg areas of North Kashmir to chalk out a strategy for the new party. 'We already have many members and our endeavour is to get all the released militants in the new party,' he said. The party, Dar said is already in negotiations with former militants and commanders of other militant outfits. The new party will be open for talks with the Centre as well. Earlier too, militant leaders and some top commanders held direct negotiations with the Centre. However, this is the first time when former militants, especially those who acted as foot soldiers in the years of militancy, will become members of the new political party, he said. 'We will also try to unite all the former militants in a single group and find an answer to the Kashmir problem,' said Ashiq Hussain, a former militant and general secretary of the new outfit. 'Some leaders or parties are claiming to represent us. In reality, we are being exploited', he said, adding that the released militants and their families are facing numerous hardships but nobody has done anything to rehabilitate former militants. 'Mainstream and separatist groups have failed to project our miseries,' he said. 'We lost everything in 18 years of our struggle. Our sacrifices have been ignored by people. We are not going to ignore Kashmir's freedom struggle,' he said. Ajaz Ahmad Wani a, former district commander, said the party considers as top priority the rehabilitation of former militants and their families. 'Earlier, we were fighting for Kashmir with guns. Now, we are going to enter politics and fight for our rights,' he said. Wani said that from1989 to 1998, thousands of youth participated in the fight for the 'movement'. 'Even after serving our detention, we are regularly summoned by security forces for monthly attendance and harassed there. The police never clears the names of former militants for jobs despite their selection,' he said. Another former militant Mohammad Abas said besides political goals the new party will also work on humanitarian projects. Official estimates put the number of former released militants at around 40,000.