M A I N   N E W S

Hizb top gun held
Kumar Rakesh
Tribune News Service

Mohammad Ahsan Dar, a close associate of Syed Sallahuddin, who is the chief of Hizbul Mujahideen, was co-ordinating activities of Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hizbul, Jaish and Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, the police says

Srinagar, January 14
The police has arrested Ahsan Dar, founder of Kashmir's most potent indigenous outfit, Hizbul Mujahideen, who was active as the coordinator between several Pak-based militant outfits like the Lashkar-e-Toiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammamad.

Ahsan Dar, who founded the HM in 1989, was nabbed while he was trying to sneak into Sumbal, the police said today.

Dar, known as an organisation man, had fallen out with the ISI and was replaced by Syed Salahuddin as the HM's chief in 1991 and Salahuddin continues to head the HM from PoK. Considered one of the pioneers of militancy in the state, Dar was arrested twice in the past and remained in the thick of the militant movement even though sources say his stock fluctuated among the extremists.

A hardcore ideologue drawn from the Jamaat-e-Islami, Dar first cross over the LoC in 1984 and again in 1988. After receiving arms training he returned to the valley in the same year but was arrested soon after. He managed to escape from hospital, crossed the LoC in 1989 and returned to lay the foundation of the Hizbul Mujahideen and became its chief commander.

Due to his differences with the ISI, he broke away from the HM and founded another militant organisation, Muslim Mujahideen, in 1992. He was again arrested in 1993 and was released in 1999. Official sources said he joined militancy against and crossed over to Pakistan with his family.

The police said he had been in close contact with the ISI and other Pak agencies that regularly funded him. He had infiltrated into India via the Bangladesh border.

He was tasked with the job of boosting the depleted ranks of militant bodies, the police said.

Many in the valley see demoralisation in militants' ranks in Dar's arrest, more so after the surprisingly high turnout in the recent poll . "The message has gone out that the armed movement is losing its relevance in Kashmir and many of them are looking for alternatives," an official said.

Dar's arrest, they believe, would help them convince many of his accomplices in laying down their arms.



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