Kashmir Politics

Profile of Changing Situation - 1994-95

The continuing efforts by the HuM to maintain its hegemony over the 'movement' and its policy of systematic elimination of even the 'inconvenient' secessionist leaders became a cause of never ending group clashes. The JEl/HuM had to face the biggest ever threat after killing of Dr. Qazi Nissar (20 June 1994) by suspected HuM militants, leading to about 100,000 people of Anantnag taking out spontaneous processions, in which anti-JEI/HuM and anti-Pakistan slogans were raised. Profile of changing situation (1994-1995)However, the HuM overcame the problem by suppressing these 'anti-movement' activities by killing a number of people and kidnapping and torturing many others. Though the HuM succeeded in suppressing the rebellion in Anantnag, many smaller groups of militants who had suffered at the hands of HuM militants came out openly and started targeting the JEl/HuM cadres. Kuka Parrey group in Sonawari-Bandipur area, Sareer Khan group in Pattan area and Nawa Azad group in Anantnag area were some of the groups which came to the limelight for their actions targeted against JEl/HuM cadres forcing them to flee from these areas.

1994-95 also witnessed emergence of the 'Harkat-ul-Ansar' (HUA) in a big way. In order to gain popularity among the Muslims of J&K, the HUA imposed ban on 'Amarnath Yatra' in 1994 demanding removal of the 'security forces' cordon' from Hazratbal shrine. The ban on Amarnath Yatra was again imposed in 1995 in retaliation to the 'destruction' of Charar-e-Sharief shrine. The HUA also started propagating itself as the most powerful militant orgnaisation and asked the people of J&K to join it. During June 1994 - July 1995, HUA militants carried out 3 incidents of kidnappings of foreign nationals (2 in district Anantnag and one in Delhi) for securing the release of its leaders detained in Indian jails. The kidnappings in Delhi were carried out by HUA under a cover name 'Al Hadid' and in July 95 in Anantnag under the name 'Al Faran'. To put pressure on the Government for acceptance of their demands, the HUA militants killed one of the kidnapped foreigners (a Norwegian national) in a very brutal manner. The HUA, which was confined to Anantnag and Doda districts earlier, also started operating in other parts of the Valley, including Srinagar city as well as in other areas of the Jammu region, including Jammu city.

On the militancy front, a split in the JKLF was another important development during 1995. Shabir Siddique (ex-Spokesman, JKLF) along with Basharat took control of Hazratbal shrine on 19 September 1995 and declared a separate organisational set-up for the JKLF, including Basharat as Chief Commander. Shabir Siddique also announced removal of Yasin Malik from the post of President, JKLF, and stated that a new political wing under Javed Ahmed Mir would be announced shortly. Though Amanullah Khan supported the Shabir Siddique group, Javed Ahmed Mir, contrary to expectations, under the pressure from SAS Gillani and AG Lone expressed his faith in the leadership of Yasin Malik and announced the removal of Amanullah Khan from Chairmanship of JKLF and the appointment of Yasin Malik as Acting Chairman.

The genuine move of the Government to restore the political process in the State was met with increasing attacks against main-stream political leaders by the pro-Pak militant groups, particularly the HuM. Sabotage of the political process in the State became the main target of the militant and secessionist leaders. The release of Yasin Malik and Shabir Shah gave credence to the Government's intentions to hold elections in J&K. However, this move was projected by the pro-Pakistan groups that these leaders were released after reaching some 'understanding' with the Government of India. Despite increased threats from the pro-Pakistan militants, the main-stream political leaders, particularly belonging to the National Conference and Cong-I, took the initiative for revival of the political process in the State. The National Conference held the meeting of its Central Working Committee in Jammu after 5 years and the Cong-I organised an impressive rally at Chandoosa, near Pattan in Baramulla, which was the first successful public meeting by any political party in the Valley since the eruption of militancy.

A perceptible change in US policy by the secessionist leaders in Kashmir was another important development during 1995. The Hurriyat leaders, who were eagerly waiting for the visit of Frank Wisner, the US Ambassador to Kashmir, were completely disappointed when Wisner during his visit (24-26 June 1995) to Srinagar tried to persuade the Hurriyat leaders to participate in the elections.

However, the destruction of the 15th century shrine of Sheikh Noor-ud-Din at Charar-e-Sharief and the entire Charar township in May 1995, was one of the biggest incidents of violence in Kashmir. The alien mercenaries belonging to HuM and HUA, particularly Mast Gul (HuM), who occupied the shrine were in direct contact with their Pakistani mentors and received continuous guidance from across the border. They appeared to be determined to cause harm to the shrine right from the beginning and despite repeated offers of safe passage by the administration, they refused to leave the area and finally set ablaze the shrine before fleeing from Charar-e-Sharief.