Ahsan Dar Sparks Controversy Over ’88 Blasts

Ahsan Dar Sparks Controversy Over ’88 Blasts

26 October 2012
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Azhar Qadri

Srinagar: Mohammad Ahsan Dar, a militant commander undergoing trial, has said separatist group Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front’s leaders Yasin Malik and Javed Ahmad Mir have nothing to do with the July 1988 blasts which triggered years of militancy in the state. Dar, popularly known as Master because of his teaching background, is lodged at the Central Jail, Srinagar, where he is undergoing trial in several militancy-related cases. “It was not Yasin Malik or Javed Mir who carried out those blasts. It is a wrong projection of history,” he told The Tribune. Dar was reacting to local newspaper reports which, he said, had projected former militants Malik and Mir as the architects of Kashmir militancy and as the men behind the blasts on July 31, 1988. Both Malik and Mir, who had led the pro-independence JKLF militant outfit in the early 1990s, are now leaders of separate factions of the political separatist group after renouncing militancy in 1994. Mir, however, refused to make any comment on Dar’s claim. Dar said “the truth” about the July 31, 1988, blasts was that they had been carried out by another set of militants who were also operating under the JKLF, which was then led by Pakistan-based Amanullah Khan. Hizb-ul-Mujahideen was formed nearly two years after the first bomb blasts and Dar was among its founding members. Dar, who was born in a north Kashmir village in 1961, was first arrested in 1988 but managed to escape while he was being treated at a hospital. He was again arrested in 1993 and released six years later in 1999. After his release, he again went underground and was arrested in 2009 from north Kashmir’s Bandipora district. These days, Dar says, he is chronicling the militant history of the region in his prison cell. His new book which is tentatively titled ‘Crisis in Command’ will be the first document of Kashmir’s militant history, which began in 1988 when bomb attacks were carried out at several locations in the heart of Srinagar, to be authored by a militant leader. The 550-page book will delve into the events surrounding the eruption of militancy in Kashmir to the militant and political scene which has emerged “till this date”. Dar named Abdul Qadir Rather, Shabir Ahmad Guru, ‘Engineer’ Arshad Kaloo, Javed Jehangir, Humayoun Azad, Mohammad Anwar Bhat and Bilal Sidiqi as the members of the militant cell which carried the blasts. “The attacks were first planned for July 13 but then due to some problems, the attacks had to be postponed,” he said. Bilal Sidiqi, who was released from jail last year after spending 17 years in prison, said there was an FIR against him for carrying out the July 1988 blasts. “I will not speak much on it. I will only say the FIR is registered against me. It is me who is on trial for those blasts for the past 20 years,” Sidiqi said.