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Zakir Musa's call for an 'Islamic State' will force Kashmir's militancy into an ideological split

The call by Zakir Musa, who quit the Hizbul Mujahideen militant outfit, to fight for the creation of the Islamic State of Jammu and Kashmir, has triggered an ideological split among the militant outfits. Zakir drew the support of two other militant outfits — Harkatul Mujahideeen (HuM) and Kashmir Taliban — and the ideological rift has come years after the militants had sorted out their divergent views over the resolution of the Kashmir issue.

After the rift between Kashmir’s two main militant organisations — Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) and Hizbul Mujahideen — in the early 1990s was sorted out, Kashmir had witnessed a lull in skirmishes between the militants. However in 2015, chief of the United Jehad Council (UJC), an amalgam of different militant outfits, and Hizbul Mujahideen's top commander, Syed Salahuddin, announced the decision to expel one of its commanders, Abdul Qayoom Najar, after he was blamed for series of attacks on mobile tower owners.

File image of Zakir Musa. News18

File image of Zakir Musa. News18

Security forces said that Najar was leading a breakaway group of Lashkar-i-Islam (LeI) and Salahuddin had made a statement that he was expelled for defaming and weakening Kashmir’s 'freedom struggle'. However, Superintendent of Police, Sopore, Harmeet Singh, said that Najar was now in Pakistan and the LeI was not very active in north Kashmir.

However, while the mode of operations had triggered the conflict in 2015 — as the Hizbul Mujahideen stated it was against the killing of civilians with Salahuddin recently even denying that the militants were responsible for the killing of Lieutenant Ummer Fayaz, it is the first time that the ideological division in the militancy has been so deep. When the militancy began in the 1990s and it seemed as though a political settlement of the Kashmir issue was on the cards, there were wide differences between the different militant organisations on the future of Kashmir.

In the latest video released by Zakir, he emphasised that thought it should be the "priority of militants to fight Indian forces", but "once Kashmir gets freedom"’ there would be a fight on the shape of the State that would exist. In the 1990s, while the JKLF was pitching for the freedom of Kashmir from both India and Pakistan, the Hizbul Mujahideen was seeking the merger of this part of Kashmir with Pakistan. It was in 1994 that the JKLF announced a unilateral ceasefire and its chairman, Yasin Malik, ran it as a political organisation.

Although both the Hurriyat Conference led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq have often been fighting it out openly, Syed Salahudin has thrown his weight behind both factions. While Geelani has earlier been advocating the tripartite resolution of the Kashmir problem, some leaders within the Hurriyat(M) have also been stating that the resolution of Kashmir issue has to be found outside the purview of UN Resolutions.

But Saifullah Saif, the spokesperson of militant organisation Kashmiri Taliban, told a local news agency that Zakir is on the 'right track' and that the Kashmiri Taliban's chief commander, Muhammad Bin Qasim, supports him. "Our organisation is a constituent of United Jehad Council and we want to make it clear that people working for India will not be spared, even if they are part of the Hurriyat Conference," he said and added that the outfit has decided to target 'anti-freedom struggle forces' without delay. The spokesperson of the HuM Hasan Askari has said, "Zakir has spoken the truth. We stand by him. He has spoken about Islam. He has spoken against those who work in connivance with India. Our support is always with him."

Former UJC chief and member of Quami Mahazi Azadi (QMA), Azam Inquilabi, said that despite the early differences towards the resolution of Kashmir problem could be started with both India and Pakistan starting the demilitarisation of Jammu and Kashmir and after a Parliament is set up. He added that the people of Kashmir can be given the choice of deciding on their future. Inquilabli, who was the head of militant outfit, Operation Balakote, had dissociated from the UJC in 1991, to launch a "political movement for the resolution of the Kashmir issue".

Although Islam had been a pull for many youths joining the militancy in the 1990s, it is after the 11 September, 2001 attacks in US that Kashmiri militants have chosen to refrain from affiliating with any global terror organisations. Salahuddin made it clear in his latest statement that Kashmiri militants were not linked with Al-Qaeda or the Islamic State. While denying the involvement of Hizbul Mujahideen in Fayaz’s killing, its spokesman has said that "India was trying to create groups like Islamic State to defame militants. There is no role of Al-Qaeda, Islamic State and Taliban in Kashmir’s freedom struggle."

Updated Date: May 15, 2017 07:32 AM

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