March 2003 News

Hizbul Splits Into Two

27 March 2003
The Statesman

Jammu: Jammu and Kashmir's largest militant outfit, Hizbul Mujahideen has split. Mr Tufail Ahmed Bhat, a former operational chief of Hizbul and a supporter of Abdul Majid Dar, has been quoted by Pakistani daily Dawn as saying that two hundred supporters of Dar parted ways with the Syed Salahuddin-led faction and launched their own group in Pakistan. A staunch supporter of Majid Dar, Mr Ahmed Bhat hails from the Bagh-e-Mehtab area in the outskirts of Srinagar and is, in fact, a divisional commander of the outfit presently based in the Manshehra training camp of the Hizbul in Muzaffarabad. Although reports emanating from Islamabad said that the Hizbul Mujahideen had split into two with a dominant section in the outfit rejecting the leadership of Syed Salahuddin and forming a separate unit in Pakistan- occupied Kashmir following the killing of its former chief commander Dar, the news has not come as a surprise to the top officials of the counter-insurgency grid in Kashmir. The reason being - that the differences between the two Hizbul factions had sharpened over the past three years. Soon after the parting of ways, Mr Ahmed claimed that 40 per cent of Hizbul activists are with the Dar faction. He also said: 'We had no option but to part ways with the Salahuddin-led faction of the Hizbul, but we will carry on the struggle for freedom from India.' Confirming reports that the Hizbul has split, security officials based in Srinagar said the killing of Majid Dar was linked to the split, which they said was evident for quite some time. They said that during the Hizbul Mujahideen chief's visit to Manshehra some 5-7 months ago, a considerable number of Dar's supporters had raised slogans against him and supported Dar. As the situation became too unbearable for Mr Salahuddin, he returned to Rawalpindi and since then was staying there. He was not even visiting the Hizbul camps in PoK which have a considerable number of Dar supporters for fear of getting isolated. However, the Hizbul chief's fear that most of them might return and surrender before the security forces prevented him from doing so. In fact, defence sources said the Hizbul chief was also afraid that one day Majid Dar would come to PoK and would become the outfit's supreme commander. Thus he got him killed, sources said. Bhim Singh resigns: Panthers Party chief Prof. Bhim Singh today resigned from the Ghulam Nabi Azad-led coordination committee in protest against the remarks made by deputy chief minister Mr Mangat Ram Sharma yesterday in the state Assembly.

 

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