Sunday, November 25, 2001, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi

J A M M U   &   K A S H M I R

Hizbul to remain apolitical
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, November 24
The Hizbul Mujahideen, pro-Pakistan militant outfit in Kashmir, which had earlier indicated that it planned to join politics, has clarified that it will continue to remain apolitical. The clarification, having come from Syed Salahuddin, Pakistan-based supreme commander of the organisation, has set at rest speculations over its possible role as a political entity.

A securityman stands guard at the site of a grenade explosion near Clock Tower in the busy Lal Chowk area of Srinagar in which at least 23 persons were injured on Saturday.
— Photo Amin War

According to reports here, Syed Salahuddin made the clarification at a meeting of the command council in Muzaffarabad yesterday. He said Asad Yazdani, deputy chief, and spokesman and former chief commander of operations, Abdul Majid Dar, had been removed from their positions. Dar, who announced a unilateral ceasefire in July last year, has been replaced by Saif-ul-Islam as the commander of operations of the outfit.




The reports said Junaid-ul-Islam had been appointed as chief spokesman of the Hizbul Mujahideen on Monday last, Yazdani had announced that the group was thinking of joining politics. He also said foreign militants operating in the trouble-torn state had “no role in the policy matters of the freedom struggle” and that they were subservient to the Kashmiri leadership. Appreciating the role of foreign militant outfits like the Lashkar-e-Toiba, the Jaish-e-Mohammad and the Harkatul Mujahideen, Yazdani expressed the hope that they would work under the local leadership.

Yazdani, according to the meeting of the command council, has been replaced by Abul Faisal as divisional commander, while Abu Jindal has been replaced by Abdul Fateh and Abu Ubaid is the new divisional commander in place of Farooq Mireha.

Last year, Dar had announced a unilateral ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir for a period of three months. But it had to be withdrawn within a period of two weeks for varied reasons. The Hurriyat Conference, a conglomeration of 23 separatist groups, had described the Hizbul announcement as a “hasty decision”. The recent statement of Yazdani as spokesman of the outfit hinting at plans to join politics was also seen as a significant shift in the outfit’s role.

Meanwhile, the Jamaat-e-Islami has denied that Hizbul Mujahideen is the militant outfit of the party so that the party is patronising it. The denial came in response to comments made by the Director-General of the Jammu and Kashmir police, Mr A.K. Suri, at a press conference here on Wednesday.

“The statement of the DGP is irresponsible, baseless and malicious in nature and is a signal to government agencies to make the Jamaat the target yet again,” a statement of the Jamaat-e-Islami said here. The statement was issued after an emergency meeting of the party presided over by its chief, Ghulam Mohammad Bhat. The Jamaat-e-Islami, which is a constituent of the separatist Hurriyat Conference, also reiterated its stand that the party was for a “peaceful and negotiated settlement of the Kashmir issue”.

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