Hizb leader Dar killed in IHK
By Zafar Meraj
SRINAGAR: A senior Kashmiri guerrilla leader and former chief of frontline guerrilla group Hizbul Mujahideen was shot dead in his native town Sopore, 45 km from here in North Kashmir.
Little known militant group Save Kashmir Movement has claimed responsibility for gunning down Abdul Majid Dar, who was one of the most respected Kashmiri guerrilla leaders.
A man claiming to be a spokesman for the Save Kashmir Movement said Mr Dar was killed for being “an informant of the Indian agencies and weakening the Kashmir cause”.
Mr Dar was shot and critically injured by unidentified gunmen in the Noorbagh house of his elder brother late on Saturday night. His mother and younger sister were also injured in the attack. Mr Dar was rushed to Sopore hospital where he died on Sunday morning. His mother and sister are said to be in critical condition in a Srinagar hospital. As news of the attack on the popular leader spread, paramilitary troops and policemen rushed to Noorbagh and cordoned off the neighbourhood. Searches were mounted in the area to track down the killers.
Mr Dar created ripples in Kashmir by calling a unilateral ceasefire with Indian security forces in July-August 2000. However, after Hizb commanders held initial talks with the Indian government in Srinagar, the Pakistan based Hizb leader Syed Salahuddin called off the fortnight-old ceasefire.
Violence escalated across Kashmir during the ceasefire period as other militant groups rejected the truce, creating a rift between the Indian and Pakistani based Hizb leaders, who were once very close.
Amidst increasing reports of differences between them, Mr Salahuddin expelled Mr Dar and several commanders – including Zafarul Fatah, Dr Assad Yazdani and Zubair —- from the outfit in May last year. Mr Dar, however, claimed he had the support of many Hizb commanders in Kashmir.
Mr Salahuddin recently expelled three more commanders — Almaas, Nadeem and Tufail — who were based in Muzaffarabad and reportedly Dar supporters.s.
Since his expulsion, Mr Dar and some commanders close to him had made efforts to band together Hizb cadres. Unlike other guerrilla groups active in Kashmir, the bulk of the Hizb’s cadres, believed to number in the thousands, are Kashmiris.
Mr Dar was also opposed to tactics used by other groups, such as suicide attacks. He also favoured the inclusion of Pakistan in any talks addressing the Kashmir issue, saying the problem could not be solved without Islamabad.
Hizb condemns assassination: “The mysterious killing of Abdul Majid Dar is a sorrowful incident,” Hizbul Mujahideen party spokesman Salim Hashmi said in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, reported AFP. “The Hizbul Mujahideen strongly condemns his murder and expresses grief over the incident,” Mr Hashmi said. “However, we cannot blame anyone unless investigations into the murder are held.” Hizbul would conduct its own probe into Mr Dar’s murder, he said.