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Hizb chief has Hurriyat squirming

Onkar Singh in New Delhi | April 22, 2003 13:17 IST

Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin has rattled the leadership of the All-Parties Hurriyat Conference by reportedly asserting that he should represent the people of Jammu and Kashmir in the event of tripartite talks involving India and Pakistan.

The Pakistan-based militant chief's statement appeared in local newspapers on April 19, a day after Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee addressed a rally in Srinagar.

While the statement was in response to the prime minister's rally, its contents have far-reaching consequences for the Hurriyat, which has been claiming that it can prevail upon the terrorist outfits in the state to shun violence.

The question is, if the terrorists themselves want to talk to the government, what role will the Hurriyat have?

Intelligence circles indicate that there is increasing pressure on Salahuddin from his handlers in Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence to do something in India to strengthen his outfit's position.

In recent months, the Jammu and Kashmir police has killed a number of Hizb 'area commanders', rendering the organisation's cadre almost ineffective.

According to these sources, Pakistan would like Salahuddin to carry out attacks from within India to show the world that it is not sponsoring terrorism.

"I have heard something in this regard, but we do not have confirmed intelligence inputs indicating that Salahuddin plans to sneak into India. I would be there to welcome him since we want him dead or alive," Director General of Police A K Suri told

Salahuddin is wanted by the police in connection with a large number of terrorist attacks carried out by Hizb cadre operating under his command. Thousands of innocent people have died in these attacks.

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