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Syed Salahuddin is the commander of the HuM and works from Pakistan occupied Kashmir.

india Updated: Sep 28, 2002 22:46 IST

The Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HuM) was founded in 1989 as a militant wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami of Pakistan, a religious and socio-cultural organisation also working in Jammu and Kashmir. Over the years Hizb has become one of the largest terrorist groups active in J&K, striking civilian and military targets besides resorting to kidnappings.

The Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) challenges the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India and seeks to establish a state based on the Islamic order and Nizam-e-Mustafa and its merger with Pakistan. The outfit was originally termed Al Badr but was soon rechristined as the Hizb-ul Mujahideen. The Jamaat is said to have set up HuM on the guidance of the ISI, as an Islamic counter to the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF).

Syed Salahuddin is the commander of the HuM and works from Pakistan occupied Kashmir. He is alleged to have masterminded and led the Chittisingpora massacre in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Hizb-ul Mujahideen had in its beging established contacts with Afghan mujahideen groups such as Hizb-e-Islami under which its cadre received arms training. According to Indian intelligence sources the cadre strength of HuM is estimated to be around 800 with the bordering districts of Poonch, Rajouri and Doda in Jammu and Kashmir its area of operation.

With the increase in terrorist activities of the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) in Jammu and Kashmir, the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen has been working in tandem with the LeT. Ever since 1997, the HuM has undertaken joint operation alonwith LeT like the Chittisinghpora masscre and Wandhama killings.

Among its major operations the HuM is alleged to have been responsible for setting ablaze the Muslim shrine of Charar-e-Sharrif in J&K in 1995. Hizb has been actively involved in deadly strikes against the Indian security personnel including the attack on an army convoy killing 11 soldiers in Tral in February 2000 and the attack on Nathnusha army camp in Kupwara district in August 1999.

The HuM, while promoting the Pakistan's agenda in J&K has also been responsible in stifeling the moderate voices in the valley by killing the moderate leaders. From the nature of activities indulged in by the Hizb-ul Mujahideen, it appears that the outfit provides the local knowledge and support, required by the preferred mercenary outfits of Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) such as the Harkat-ul Ansar and the Lashkar-e-Toiba, whose cadre are largely foreign.

HuM has suffered several setbacks in its history as the supreme chief of the outfit, Ahsan Dhar was arrested by security forces in December 1993. A former chief commander, Ghulam Rasool Shah alias Imran Rahi, had given up terrorism in favour of dialogue to end the crisis. A prominent commander Abdul Hameed Butt alias Bombar Khan who was the prime accused in the Wandhama massacre, was killed on March 13, 2000 in Sheikhpora.

Several unconfirmed reports also indicate that the Hizb's parent organisation, the Jamaat-e-Islami was disgusted with the violent actions of its terrorist arm and had therefore, disassociated itself from the actions of the group.

The mainstream leadership of the Jamaat had openly come out against terrorism with its chief Ghulam Mohammed Butt declaring in a November 14, 1998 press conference that the organisation was not connected with terrorism in any way and that it was committed to democratic and constitutional means to achieve its goal. He had added that Jamaat members who were part of the Hizb-ul Mujahideen were expelled from the parent organisation.

A dissenting voice to this mainstream opinion was that of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, a senior leader and executive committee member of the All Party Hurriyat Conference, who maintained that the Jamaat could not be isolated from the ongoing armed struggle.

First Published: Sep 28, 2002 22:36 IST