The Assassination of Hizbul Leader Majid Dar
Abdul Majid Dar, another sane voice in Jammu and Kashmir who realised thefutility of the gun and talked of restoring peace to the terrorists` violenceweary Kashmiris, has been silenced. Abdul Majid Dar`s assassination is thesecond in the row after the assassination of A.G. Lone, senior Hurriyat leaderwho talked of solving the long pending Kashmir imbroglio by giving a callto the Kashmiris to participate in the recently held assembly elections.
Abdul Majid Dar, top separatist leader and former Hizbul Mujahideen ChiefCommander, was shot dead by unknown gun men at Sopore on 23 March 2003. Twogun wielding youth barged into Dar`s ancestral house at Noor Bagh in theheart of the township and fired indiscriminately. While Dar died on the spot,his mother and sister were critically injured.
Dar`s death has delivered a blow to the peace initiative in Kashmir. Thekilling comes at a time when Dar was planning to return to PoK to take controlof Hizbul moderates which could have changed the complexion of militancyin the Valley. It was Dar who earlier took the initiative by declaringa unilateral cease-fire and initiating talks with the Centre. His peace initiativewas met positively by the Centre, which nominated the then Home SecretaryPadmanabhan to hold talks with Dar and his commanders. However, the talkscould not go beyond the first round.
Dar suffered a major blow when the Special Operation Group killed his deputy,Masood, who had led the Hizb delegation for talks with the Home Secretary.Farooq Mircha, another Dar aid, disappeared mysteriously some months later.The PoK based HM Chief Syed Salahuddin later removed Dar and his confidantsfrom top positions and finally expelled him for `defying party discipline`.Dar and his men, however, refused to accept the expulsion and claimed tobe part of the HM.
Within hours of Dar`s assassination, clashes broke out at the HM camps inPoK between the slain leader`s followers and members of the faction led bySalahuddin. There were clashes at the camps in Kotli, Mirpur, Jangal-Mangal,Haripur, and Gadhi-Dupatta. Dar was slated to take charge of these ISI runstations where tensions between the two factions had been simmering. Highlyplaced sources were sure of Salahuddin`s hands in the murder of the Kashmir-bornleader. Salahuddin`s men are also believed to be behind the recent killingof a Kashmiri journalist Pervez Sultan who had written a story about theimpending break-up of the HM.
A series of clashes between the two factions has been noticed since mid-2002.The biggest of them occurred at the Haripur camp (PoK) in November 2002 intwo separate camps in PoK. Even those who were staying in other camps werefound switching loyalty to the Kashmiriyat cause espoused by Dar. Earlier,Salahuddin had sabotaged a ceasefire that Dar unilaterally declared in July2000. At the behest of the ISI, he insisted on the inclusion of Pakistanon the negotiating table.
Salahuddin was feeling alienated by Dar`s rising popularity and the Indiansecurity force`s tight vigil on the Line of Control because of which he wasfinding it difficult to send his men into Indian territory. Dar's murderwas, therefore, planned with a view to end a turf war that was slipping outof the ISI`s control.