WASHINGTON DC, June 4, 2005 | ISSN: 1684-2057 | www.satribune.com

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What SAT Correspondent saw and heard in Srinagar

Visiting Hurriyat leader pray for Kashmir in Pakistan

Foreign Militants Being Isolated by Indigenous Kashmiri Fighters

By Arun Rajnath

SRINAGAR, June 4: Though militant organizations in Muzaffarabad have refused to meet Hurriyat leaders visiting Pakistan, one of the most important commanders of fighting militias, Syed Salahuddin (Left), is understood to have directed all foreign militants operating in Indian administered Kashmir to stop killing innocent Kashmiris.

Salahuddin's directive is being seen as a new development by the Indian Security Forces, and understandably so, as he heads the Hizbul Mujahideen, the most potent of the fighting forces.

His message intercepted just recently, according to sources, clearly asked the foreign militants to immediately stop killing of Kashmiri civilians, even if there is a suspicion that they were acting as informers of the Indian security forces. Salahuddin also warns that if his directives are violated, "they should be ready to face the consequences.”

Ordinary Kashmiris are reportedly fed up with these ‘foreign elements’ and their activities that have almost marred the indigenous armed movement. During a visit to this Kashmiri capital, this popular Kashmiri mood is overwhelmingly obvious.

Kashmiri civilians, specially the indigenous militant organizations, have not just launched the campaign against foreign militants, they have begun the ‘purging operation’.

Sources said that Salahuddin's message was intercepted in the last few days and in part said: “Yahan baithe buzurgon ke ishare ke baghair koi operation kiya gaya to phir anjaam bhugatne ke liye tayyar rehna chahiye”. (If any operation is carried out without consent of seniors sitting here, let you be prepared to face the consequences).

Not only has Salahuddin issued this directive, his men have started detaining the foreign militants as well. One such militant belongs to Harkat-ul-Jehad, operating in South Kashmir. The Harkat-ul-Jehad has sent many requests to the Area Commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen to release the ‘boy’, but the outfit has refused to do so.

According to sources, this Harkat ‘boy’ is being kept somewhere near the Chamb border in Himachal Pradesh. The intercepted messages also show that in Bhadrwah the militants belonging to Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and Hizbul Mujahideen have taken up arms against each other.

Bashir Butt (name changed on account of security reasons) of the Radio Kashmir says, “Indigenous militant organizations still have influence, particularly among the lower classes as they are seen as Saviors. But foreign militants have lost their ground and acceptability.”

“They are undisciplined, indulge in un-Islamic activities such as debauchery, sexual orgies and they often kidnap young women from towns and villages. This is the reason why the indigenous organizations like Hizb have taken arms against these elements who are violating the true spirit of Jihad,” he added.

Bashir Butt says: “The atmosphere has also changed a lot after the initiation of peace gestures between Pakistan and India. Previously, some persons in my institution used to have relations with militant organizations.”

“Whenever any official from New Delhi would come here to look into the broadcasting matters, full information about him were provided to militant elements and they used to threaten him to leave the Valley or die. But now no such thing happens. People have changed a lot,” he further stated.

He says the new development has taken place partly due to disenchantment to violent means for freedom and partly due to hope for peace and security in the Valley after resumption of a dialogue.

Butt provided some rough estimates about the incidents of kidnapping by foreign militants that have substantially contributed to the erosion in the acceptability of these elements.

He said that some young women from Baramullah, Takoora (Srinagar), Karan Nagar (Srinagar), Sopore, Trehgam, Miskeen Bagh (Srinagar), Darsu (Pulwama), Hakbara (Baramullah), Malik Saheb (Srinagar), Bhoripora (Kupwara), Pattan, Chadoora (Badgam), Batmaloo, Kokarhamam (Baramullah), Shopiyan, Sultanpora (Badgam) had recently been abducted by some unknown persons on gun point.

“None has returned so far and nobody knows about their whereabouts. Foreign militants often resort to such activity, therefore people believe that these young women were abducted by those elements,” he added.

Butt told the South Asia Tribune: “Though we cannot absolve the Indian forces of atrocities against women, the foreign militants are doing the same thing. They are indulging in gang rapes, keeping women in detention and later even killing them."

“In 1990s when militancy was at its peak in the Valley," he said, "the Indian Security Forces used to abduct young women and entire unit used to rape them. Girls were held captive in camps and kept naked in tents for days on end. After gang raping them, Indian soldiers used to string them up naked with trees, cut their breasts and used to tell them that they would not be able to feed future terrorist.”

“Foreign militants are not any better, though there is substantial development in the relationship between Forces and Kashmiri civilians. But you must not forget that Kashmiri people also want peace," he added.

"Na to unhain aazadi mili, na Nizam-e-Mustafa qayam hua. Voh mujahideen aur maqbooza fauj ke beech pis ke rah gaya,” (Neither they got independence nor an Islamic system. They were crushed between the Mujahideen and Occupation Indian forces), he continued.

Butt said: “We want peace at any cost. Hurriyat leaders have gone to Pakistan and they should try to reach a conclusion. But they should not forget or ditch Mujahideen forces. Every one should be included in the peace talks. Elected representatives should also be consulted because they also represent some people.”

“Pakistan should dismantle training camps and curb the foreign militants. On the other side India should also move forward and hold talks with indigenous militant organizations along with Hurriyat leadership of both factions. Every body should come together for the establishment of peace. This is the common feeling of the Kashmiri masses,” Butt added.

Sources said the I Security Forces had also intercepted some messages of Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and Jaish-e-Muhammed in North Kashmir. The junior commanders are not complying with the orders of their senior commanders, it appears from these messages.

In one such intercepted message, a junior commander of the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba is heard saying to his superior: “Tum log to tanzeem ke paise se aish kar rahe ho aur hamen ek paisa nahin dete. Bhar mein jao” (You people are making merry from the money of the organization and you refuse to share anything with us. Go to hell).

A Divisional Commander of the Jaish-e-Muhammed has also warned the foreign militants to stop their activities.

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