Hizbul Mujahideen Almost Wiped Out In Kashmir18 October 2011
Times of India
New Delhi: Once the most formidable face of Kashmir militancy, Hizbul Mujahideen is slowly fading away as its remaining commanders and cadres are being taken out on a regular interval by security forces. According to estimates available here, there is hardly over two dozen active militants left in HM, the biggest indigenous militant group ever in Kashmir. Even the remaining militants have not resorted to any major action in months now. 'They are basically reduced to throwing occasional grenades or random firing, even those are very rare,' a senior official said on the plight of HM. Over the last few weeks, security forces eliminated or arrested many of the remaining HM operatives in the Valley. On October 13, Kashmir Valley's longest serving militant and one of the senior-most HM members, Mushtaq Killer alias Mustaq Janghi, was killed. In the same operation, another militant was killed while a third one was arrested. A few days prior to the operation, security forces had arrested Mohammad Shafi, also known as Dr Dawood, believed to be the head of operations of HM in the troubled state. He, along with former operational chief Abdul Majid Dar who was killed in 2003, and HM's Pakistan-based chief Syed Salahuddin, were among the early members of HM who played a critical role in shaping the militancy that has raged for the past quarter century. Started by Jamaat-e-Islami members who revolted against the 1987 rigged elections and other oppressive policies, HM grew into the dominant militancy group by the early 1990s, with almost full membership comprising of local Kashmiris. Though they had foreign hands, HM's dominant presence as a militant group of locals gave the Kashmir insurgency a completely local flavour and some amount of global justification. In 2000, the group took the bold initiative of entering into a ceasefire with the security forces, but within weeks it was scuttled by powers that be in Pakistan. The ceasefire and subsequent talks with New Delhi's representatives catapulted Abdul Majid Dar, the then chief commander of HM in the state, into the limelight. Dar had by then resigned to the need for a peaceful settlement but his immediate superior Salahuddin, who has been based in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir for the past two decades, withdrew his endorsement of the ceasefire within days. Dar was later suspended from HM, and was shot dead in 2003. Around the same period, ideological differences between other groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, which now dominates Kashmir insurgency, also emerged. LeT had started launching suicide bombers (fidayeen) in 1999 but HM disagreed with the tactics. The Kashmiri group believed it was un-Islamic to give up life. Long-time observers of Kashmir within the establishment point out that the slow death of HM is a sign of the disenchantment of the local population towards violence. But if New Delhi fails to seize the political space available to make lasting peace, a new kind of violence, more deadly and foreign cannot be ruled out, they warn.