February 2008 News

Hizbul Mujahideen Loses Its Grip Over Kashmir Valley

13 February 2008
The Hindustan Times

Jammu: The Hizbul Mujahideen, once the strongest militant outfit in Jammu and Kashmir, now faces decimation. The outfit has lost its top leaders and cadres in encounters with security forces, especially Jammu and Kashmir police. The group, which once ran an unquestioned writ in the Valley such foreign militant outfits could not do without it, lost some of its top leaders like Hanief Bhat, Sajjad Bhat and Rahool Bhat. Last year, it had lost as many as 23 top commanders and 300 foot soldiers. The Hizb’s cadre strength always stood between 5,000 and 7, 000 until a few years ago. It also had better support from Pakistan as compared to other outfits like the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, Al-Jehad and the Muslim Janbaz Force. “The Hizbul Mujahideen has suffered big blows and its cadre strength is around a few hundred,” said Inspector-General of Police, Kashmir zone, S.M. Sahai. The Hizb had started suffering huge losses from 2000 after its ceasefire was scuttled by its own Supreme Commander Syed Salauddin. The spilt between him and his erstwhile commander-in-chief Majid Dar who was later killed dealt a blow to the group. At the moment, the Hizb top leadership face is Muzzffar Dar, the new operational chief of the outfit, and Pervez Ahmad Dar alias Pervez Musharraf of Sopore. Hizb cadres based in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir refuse to cross the LoC. They want to enter through other routes as the Indian Army at the LoC is under instructions to neutralise infiltrators. At the second round table conference in Srinagar in May 2006, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said that Delhi would facilitate the return of the Kashmiri youths from across the LoC. Some 98 Hizb militants returned to the Kashmir valley in 2006 after that to surrender their weapons but their safe routes were revealed before their guides, also working for the army. “Now, the local militants are risk wary. They would come only through some deal,” said a senior officer.

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