Salahuddin isolated in Command Council
11 May 2002
The Daily Excelsior
New Delhi: Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin is getting increasingly isolated in the Central Command Council as a large number of his ‘divisional commanders’ and functionaries have deserted him and are aligning with the expelled Abdul Majid Dar. Salahuddin, who is based in Pakistan, has been facing a banner of revolt in his Command Council after he expelled Dar and his other two associates. Dar, who favours a political settlement of the Kashmir problem, is reportedly planning to float a new outfit after having recognised the change in ground realities following the September 11 terrorists attack on the United States, sources close to Dar said. The sources said Dar’s associates were planning to contact the leaders of other militant groups and persuade them to go along with the political process and give up the gun culture. While Salahuddin still favours a militant solution to the Kashmir problem, Dar and his associates are for a moderate approach and political process saying Sept 11 had changed ground realities and a solution by the gun was an exercise in futility. Close aides of Dar confirmed that a majority of militants operating under the banner of HM, had decided to dissociate from the PoK-based leadership after the recent expulsion of Dar and his two close associates from the outfit. Four members of the Central Command Council—Shamsher Khan, Majid Jehangir, Riaz Gilani Rasool and Khalid Saifullah—have openly revolted against Salahuddin’s decision to expel Dar and lent their full support to the peace process for an amicable solution to the Kashmir problem. Sources said that about 800 of the Hizbul operatives in Jammu and Kashmir had sided with Dar after his expulsion by the Pakistan-based leadership of Syed Salahuddin. The rest about 300 hardcore are still advocating violence. Dar was recently expelled from the HM for advocating negotiations with the Centre instead of a hardline approach to the Kashmir problem as he felt that ground realities had changed after September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States and terrorism was no longer the best bet. Dar was also the first to announce a ceasefire in August 2000 in Jammu and Kashmir in response to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s offer when he openly challenged Pakistan-backed Jehadis.