Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar, one of three militants released by India in 1999 in exchange for passengers of a hijacked Indian Airlines flight, has decided to revive an "armed struggle" in Jammu and Kashmir while using Pakistan-occupied Kashmir as the base for his Al Umar Mujahideen group.
Little was heard of Zargar alias Latram, a resident of Srinagar, after his release along with Maulana Masood Azhar and Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh in exchange for passengers of flight IC-814 that was hijacked by Pakistani militants from Kathmandu in Nepal to Kandahar in Afghanistan.
Zargar, the chief of the Al Umar Mujahideen, had been lying low in Narul area of Pakistan occupied Kashmir capital Muzaffarabad since his release. He decided to reactivate his group in the aftermath of the hanging of terror suspect Afzal Guru in India earlier this month, The News daily reported.
In recent interviews, Zargar has said a "reinvigorated" armed struggle in Jammu and Kashmir as the only solution to the Kashmir issue. He has said that his goal is to "liberate Jammu and Kashmir through an armed struggle". "Regarding money, men and guns, we can get it from anywhere. We still run training centres on both sides of the Line of Control," he added.
Though the Pakistani security establishment had expressed ignorance about Zargar’s presence in in the country, The News reported that he had been living in Muzaffarabad since his release in 1999.
Masood Azhar currently heads the Jaish-e-Mohammed, which too has said it plans to step up the "jihad" in Jammu and Kashmir. Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh was sentenced to death by a Karachi court for killing Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.
Zargar, who is known for his ruthlessness, joined militancy in 1984 and rose to prominence for his role in kidnapping Rubaiya Sayeed, the daughter of then Indian Home Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed.
About three dozen murder cases have been registered against him in Srinagar. It August 1988, he abandoned the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front and crossed over to Pakistan for training.
After returning to Jammu and Kashmir, Zargar formed Al Umar Mujahideen in December 1989. He was arrested in 1993 and held in Kot Balawal Jail in Jammu till his release in 1999.