Mumbai: The Hizbul Mujahideen has been in the news with its call for a total bandh in the Kashmir Valley on July 8th to pay homage to Burhan Wani, the slained young commander of the Hizbul Mujhahideen, and ‘poster boy‘ of jihad, on his first death anniversary.
The Hizbul Mujahideen is making news yet again, in fact headlines. Recently on June 26th, the US Department of State declared its chief Sayeed Salahudeen as a ‘Specially Designated Global Terrorist’.
The announcement came hours before Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump’s meet at the White House. Designation as a ‘global terrorist’ can isolate organizations/individuals, deny access to the US financial system and can help law enforcement efforts of other affected nations and is seen as a major victory for India.
The Hizbul Mujahideen led by Sayeed Salahudeen is one of the largest guerilla outfits active in the Kashmir Valley today. It was formed by Pakistan’s top religious political party Jamaat-e-Islami, under the influence of Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI to counter the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), an organization which had advocated complete independence for Kashmir. What sets apart this militant outfit from the rest is that it is composed of mostly ethnic Kashmiris unlike the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad insurgent groups which mainly consist of radical Pakistanis. A native of central Kashmir himself, Salahudeen joined the Hizbul Mujahideen around 1989 and shifted to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, from where he played a key role in training and arming youth for insurgency in the Kashmir valley. He also heads the United Jihad Council, the body of jihadists of which HM is a part set up in the mid-1990s to oversee insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir
According to the Hizbul, the struggle for Kashmir is not political but ‘Islamic’, based on religion and they believe not in an independent Kashmir, but in accession of Kashmir to Pakistan. Very recently a former Hizbul leader Zakir Musa threatened the Hurriyat Conference, the umbrella group of the separatists for calling the struggle for Kashmir ‘political’ and not ‘religious’.
Salahudeen has time and again quoted Pakistan and its role in Kashmir’s unrest confirming the proxy war waged by Pakistan in India through the mujahideen. He is also close to the Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief and 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed. In one of his statements he vowed to turn the Kashmir valley “into a graveyard for Indian forces.” Recently in an interview with a local Pakistani TV network, audaciously, remarked that he could strike anytime, anywhere in India.
Kashmir has been on the boil, since last year with many people killed and thousands injured in daily clashes between security forces and protestors. India has control of 60% area of the former Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir (Jammu, Kashmir Valley, andLadakh); even this control is diluted as the state enjoys special status under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. Pakistan controls 30% of the region (Gilgit–Baltistan and Pak Occupied Kashmir/Azad Kashmir). China occupies 10% (Aksai Chin and Trans-Karakoram Tract) of the state in 1962. The complex political and religious structure, insurgent activities and fluid international borders make it difficult for a correct representation of the region. In the recent communiqué of the US State Dept. depicting Sayeed Salahudeen as a global terrorist, reference was made of his operations in ‘India Administered Kashmir’; thereby not recognizing the Kashmir Valley to be an integral part of India. This has gone unnoticed so far with only the Congress raising a voice against it….The Govt. should sit up and take note …..else it will be a win for separatism …a win for Sayeed Salahudeen.