Hizbul Chief Says No More Mines, Army Says Militants Only Use IEDs
18 October 2007
The Indian Express
Srinagar: In a move which the Army dismissed as an image-building attempt, the United Jehad Council (UJC), an amalgam of 13 Kashmiri militant groups, has banned the use of anti-personnel landmines in its secessionist campaign. This comes close on the heels of its unilateral three-day Eid ceasefire which was rejected by the Government. In a letter to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), UJC chairman and Hizbul Mujahideen leader Syed Salahuddin says: 'We, the representatives of the liberation movement in J-K, are determined to put an end to the suffering and casualties caused by anti-personnel mines that have killed or maimed countless people in the state, frequently civilians and especially children, obstructed economic development and have left thousands of people of the state internally displaced.' However, Army officials pointed out that the ban doesn't amount to much as militant groups in Kashmir are not known for using anti-personnel mines. 'Militants do not use anti- personnel mines. These are laid by the Army near the LoC to stop infiltration. Militants use IEDs which kill scores of people at a time,' said Defence spokesperson Col A K Mathur. 'The UJC move is aimed at creating a favourable impression. It means nothing on the ground,' he added. The UJC has also called upon 'governmental armed forces within Jammu and Kashmir' to immediately halt the use of anti- personnel mines, or other victim-activated weapons. Salahuddin has termed the use of anti-personnel mines as blind terror, going against the teachings of Islam. 'This agreement shall be binding on our organisations immediately upon signature of this pledge,' he says. The ban is expected to include militant groups like Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad, which, though not a part of the UJC, enjoy 'observer status'. ICBL representatives said the UJC ban follows a two-week mission to Kashmir by members of the anti-mine organisation. 'ICBL lobbied and sought public statements of support for a mine ban from key political parties and opinion makers. This is what made this possible,' said Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan, who works with ICBL. 'The UJC's pledge is yet another sign of the growing acceptance of the norm which prohibits anti-personnel mines because of their indiscriminate nature,' said Sylvie Brigot, ICBL Executive Director. 'We now encourage both India and Pakistan to consider a moratorium on new mine use and to launch comprehensive mine clearance programmes,' Brigot added.