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|April 7, 2001||
The Rediff Interview/Abdul Majid Dar, Chief Commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen
On Friday, we published the first part of Special Correspondent Josy Joseph's exclusive interview with Hizbul Mujahideen Chief Commander Abdul Majid Dar. Presenting the concluding part of the conversation.
In the past decade, how many from your cadres have been killed?
Thousands.. in thousands.
How many security installations, how many security personnel have you attacked till now?
That too runs in thousands.
As the chief commander, which was your most favourite strike? I am sure, like a poet or painter has a favourite among all his works, you too must have some favourites.
There are many which were very vital, if you look at it from a professional point of view. For example, we launched an attack at the headquarters of the director general of police when a high level meeting was going on. The entire top brass of the security agencies were there. The director general of police was there, the director general of the BSF was there... It was in 1992.
Similarly, at Jammu's Maulana Abul Kalam stadium on Republic Day. Governor Krishna Rao was taking the salute and had a narrow escape.
Could you tell me about some operations that you were personally involved in, and you think were a great success?
I myself, go very rarely. Since the beginning, my position has been more for organizational work. Monitoring, facilitating etc. I get very little chance to work in the field.
As chief commander, what is your focus now? To strengthen your cadres?
Even now our strength is very good. We have as many men as we need. And we have a lot of reserve cadres too. Our number is anyway increasing. We don't have any shortage of youngsters.
What kind of coordination do you have with the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed etc?
We have good relations, there are no problems. In the beginning there was a lot of infighting between groups, but it is no longer so.
Are you in regular touch with other groups?
Coordination is basically at the field level. Our boys at the field level have a good network, and they also carry out combined operations.
In the past year, have you carried out any major combined operations?
It is still going on. So many of them, in coordination with the Lashkar, or other groups.
Who are your prime targets in Kashmir?
That we could discuss sometime else. We are concerned more about the resolution of the problem now.
So, then what is your reaction to K C Pant's appointment as the government negotiator?
I think it is an ambiguous step. Nothing is clear, what is it? The details given by the home minister on Hard Talk, was that they were not interested in holding talks with Pakistan... no talks with Hizb either, so whom are you going to talk with?
The Hurriyat leaders have already said that they would not participate in the talks unless they are permitted to go to Pakistan. So frankly, there is no expectation from this. What is the advantage then?
Without Pakistan, there cannot be a solution to Kashmir.
I don't understand that (Indian) stand. Unless Pakistan is involved, how can there be a solution? Kashmir is a disputed territory, and half is with Pakistan and half is with India. And you are keeping Pakistan away where half of Kashmir lies.
So in the final solution, should Pakistan Occupied Kashmir also be involved?
That we can see then. We can discuss. We should have a solution agreeable to all three parties. But India's stand is that we will talk to those parties -- such as Ladakhis etc, -- with whom they have no problem. So what are they talking about? They should talk to those with whom they have a problem. To those who are leading the political or militant movements.
Or, if India believes Pakistan is creating all these problems, they should talk to Pakistan. It is the official stand of the Government of India that all this trouble has been created by Pakistan. So, if Pakistan has created the problem, they (GoI) should talk to them. It should be a realistic approach.
How do you view Prime Minister Vajpayee?
It seems he wants to do something (to find a solution). He says we should move away from the beaten path and talk. And that is actually the need of the hour.
Do you think with the BJP in power there could be an end to the Kashmir problem.
I think the BJP still has the capability. Because, then nobody will say they have cheated the Hindu cause. The Congress and the others could be accused of cheating the Hindu, Indian cause. I think, they (the Congress) are actually more communal than the BJP because of what they did during their tenure.
Rumours and intelligence reports indicate there are deep divisions between you and Syed Salahuddin, the Hizb supremo.
There is no problem. Up till now, all steps that we have taken were taken after discussions.
Including the cease-fire last year?
Yes. A lot of deliberations, discussions etc took place. It was after that that we made the announcement.
Does Hizb have any plan for a cease-fire?
India too has declared a cease-fire thrice. It has been extended repeatedly. The cease-fire in itself is nothing. It is only a facilitator, which creates an atmosphere to solve the issue. It is a kind of confidence building measure.
Are you ready for a cease-fire declaration along with the Indian security agencies? Similar to that in the northeast?
But a cease-fire for what? If it is to search for a solution, then we have been saying for a long time and continue to say that it should be a meaningful cease-fire. They are giving their own interpretations, their own politics. People very rarely look at reality. They claim that they are declaring a cease-fire for peace. But when I declared a cease-fire -- and this is on record -- we said, we are not doing this as a step for peace, but for solving the Kashmir issue. Otherwise, it has no meaning.
How long can peace last, if you don't solve the issue of Kashmir? It could last for four, five days or a week? Like it has happened. If there are sincere steps to solve the Kashmir issue, then the cease-fire can assist in achieving that.
So you are again ready for a cease-fire?
Yes. Surely, if there are sincere attempts to solve the issue.
Attempts... but not like K C Pant's appointment?
It is nothing. From whatever we have seen in the last few days, they don't want to talk to Hizb, or any other militant group. (The Union government said Thursday that it was willing to hold talks with militant groups 'desirous' of peace.) If they want to talk to Ladakhis, then do it. Who are we to stop them? If they want to talk to the BJP, to Farooq Abdullah, then go ahead. And see what peace comes from that.
Have you ever thought of the impact of this militancy on the younger generation of Kashmir, including your children?
I know this has both advantages and disadvantages. Due to militancy, the Kashmir issue -- which was buried -- was brought to international attention. That has been the biggest advantage. India is now disturbed, so they somehow push K C Pant forward, otherwise earlier it was not a problem for them. So this is a positive side.
We also knew, that normal life here would be disturbed due to militancy. It has been before us, and continues to be before us. And that is why, for over 40 years, we fought for our right to self-determination, democratically. We knew that it will have an impact here. But India closed all doors to us, they left us with no option but to take to militancy.
There is a claim by Indian security agencies that Talebanization is taking place in J&K. That militancy is slipping out of local hands and is now being controlled by foreign militants. How true is it?
There is no truth in it. It is true that some guest friends do come. They participate, they have a role. But the majority are Kashmiris, it is controlled by Kashmiris. It is not possible to run it (militancy) from outside, it will cannot. It has to have an indigenous identity.
Once the Taleban's struggle is over in Afghanistan, couldn't their Islamic fighters creep into Kashmir?
The Taleban is not a foreign group in Afghanistan. It is a local phenomenon. In Afghanistan thousands of foreigners came in (the movement). Kashmir never witnessed so many foreigners (entering militant groups).
People like Osama bin Laden have come to Afghanistan, but he is like a guest there. The real control lies with the Afghans.
Is there any coordination at the international level between jehadi groups?
No, there is no such coordination.
Have you been to Afghanistan?
Yes. Twice or thrice.
Ever met Osama bin Laden?
No. I have met Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, (Burhanuddin) Rabbani saheb, and others.
Are they ready to support you?
Yes. They were saying once their position is safe they will be with us.
And then they will come in here?
People were ready to come in then also. But the fact is that we have enough people to fight here. We have in fact more people than required. This is not a regular war, not a full scale war where number matters.
But you have thousands ready in Afghanistan and Pakistan?
Yes. People are ready.
How much has your family life been disturbed due to your activities?
A lot. The entire family life has been disturbed.
When were you born?
It was in 1955, or 1954. There is some doubt about it.
What is your educational background?
I was studying in Sopore college. But was not allowed to study because of all these problems. I was doing my graduation in arts.
How many brothers and sisters do you have?
Three brothers and four sisters.
Does your mother still live in your village? Do you meet your family often?
She is still in the village. But how can I meet them? I am here, they are there.
When did you first marry?
It was in 1978, I have two, three kids from that marriage.
And second marriage?
It is a highly romanticised marriage, your wife is in PoK? She is a doctor, right?
Are your wife and children still in PoK?
Do the security agencies still disturb your family?
Now. It has reduced now.
If a solution to the problem does not come up in the immediate future, will you step up your attacks?
It will naturally happen. It is understood. If you don't take any strong step to solve it, then people who are on the ground will obviously step up their activities.
What is your first target usually?
It is a straightforward thing. The first target are the security forces ... The army, paramilitary forces, state police, especially the task force, which does anti-militancy operations. But not the ordinary state police personnel.
Ever since you took over command last year, has there been any attack on your life?
Actually, I am underground. But one gets caught in such situations. Yes, a couple of times it has happened, I have been caught in close proximity of the security agencies. But luckily they didn't identify me.
You keep on changing your appearance often?
During Hizb's cease-fire last year, there were reports that you came to Delhi. Was it true?
No. It would not be possible for me to come to Delhi, because there are so many Kashmiris there. But we have other routes.
Which is the best infiltration route?
The border, which you call the LoC.
Do you accept the Hurriyat's political leadership without any conditions?
Last year, when we announced a cease-fire, I had said the Hurriyat Conference should come forward for discussions. We don't want this political platform to be weak. Despite that there are severe shortcomings, there is much to be desired. It is my sincere desire that they strengthen, improve and carry out their political role well.
Would you accept any decision taken by the Hurriyat?
It is not necessary that we accept all their decisions with closed eyes. If we have any differences, we will discuss with them.
Is it true that the ISI controls the Hizb?
It is under nobody's control. Only in our own. The decision to send me here was taken by the command council. All policy decisions are taken through the command council.
When does your tenure as chief commander get over?
Actually, our tenure is for a minimum of one year. I have told my colleagues in the command council that I want to leave now, because I also have some physical problems. I have requested them to consider changing me once my tenure gets over. But there has been no decision as of now. I think it is their wish that I continue for now.
Salah-ud-Din wanted Dar to postpone Hizb ceasefire offer
Design: Dominic Xavier
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