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Indian troops are tired of fighting us

Syed Salahudin

Syed Salahudin, Chairman of the United Jehad Council (UJC), an amalgam of 13 militant outfits operating in Kashmir says Indian troops are tired of fighting militants in Kashmir. In an in-depth telephonic interview with Shahnawaz Khan, he talks on various issues like elections, ceasefire, and Alison Macdonald.


Shahnawaz Khan: With International Campaign to Ban Landmines, you have recently signed a declaration banning anti-personnel mines. What was the motive?

Syed Salahudin: The motive is simple, that is to ban these antipersonnel mines. It is a blind weapon. On these mines, people – men, women, children and cattle walk and are maimed. It is a blind weapon. It causes indiscriminate killing. It does not differentiate between innocent and the target. India has laid more than 300,000 mines in the frontier areas which causes maiming of innocent people. Pakistan has also laid some. So our motive is to ban these mines as they are blind weapons. They are different from the command detonated weapons we use. As we have mentioned in the declaration, we will continue to use command detonated explosives against the military targets. In this case the command lies with us and we use them against the target.

Shahnawaz Khan: You are also referring to four Geneva Conventions of 1949 in your declaration. What does that imply?

Syed Salahudin: The Geneva Conventions refer to war concerns. It prohibits innocent killings in the conflict. Islam prohibits innocent killings. When Prophet Muhammad (SAW) used to send armies to war he would say, “When u fight someone, you should not attack women, children and unarmed civilians.” The Geneva conventions have draws these principles from Islam itself.

Shahnawaz Khan: Will there also be a usual change in your operations in Jammu and Kashmir?

Syed Salahudin: UJC has a code of conduct, as per which civilian killings are strictly banned. Our targets are strictly military and military related targets, which include their convoys, communications, intelligence agencies helping them, and military informers. Sometimes civilians are unintentionally hit during attacks on military targets. But if we find that any of out cadres has intentionally targeted any innocent civilians we take strict action against them. We have in the past punished our cadres found guilty of targeting innocent people.

Shahnawaz Khan: For some time we have seen that UJC has been taking initiatives for a ceasefire. Eager for a ceasefire than earlier. Is there a change in your policy?

Syed Salahudin: Hizbul Mujahideen or the militant leadership has never offered a ceasefire. As far as Ramadhan ceasefire is concerned I was asked a question about our response to a ceasefire offer if it comes from responsible quarters in New Delhi. I had only replied that if an offer comes from New Delhi the militant leadership would consider it.

However I was misquoted by some journalists who reported that UJC had offered a ceasefire. We have a clear policy for ceasefire that if ever an offer comes from responsible quarters, we have some preconditions in the light of which we will consider it.

Shahnawaz Khan: Still there are some quarters which say that the militant leadership is tired?

Syed Salahudin: This is just a disinformation campaign of Indian agencies. The truth is that Indian troops are tired of fighting the militants in every nook and corners of Kashmir in the last 20 years. Every week, every month the troops commit suicides and indulge in fragging. The officials say that troops have domestic problems. But the truth is that are scared of the militant operations. They are so stressed that now they have properly introduced Yoga to de-stress the troops. Alhamdullialah, Mujahideen are fighting fit. We are not tired.

Shahnawaz Khan: There are some reports that Pakistani intelligence is sharing information with Indian agencies, about the movement of militants across the Line of Control, which has recently lead to many militant casualties like in Tangmarg where nine militants were killed as soon as they stepped inside a hideout.

Syed Salahudin: I out rightly reject these allegations. As far as the movement of militants and their ground positions are concerned, even we are not aware of it. So there is no question that Pakistani agencies would be aware of it. I don’t deny that there must be infiltration of Indian intelligence in the ISI; these things always happen with intelligence agencies, but that does not mean they can give information about the ground positions of militants, which even we have no idea about. The question does not arise. These allegations are just part of Indian disinformation campaign to malign Pakistan.

Shahnawaz Khan: What is your stand about the troop vacation from the schools, hospitals as announced by Indian defence minister? Do you welcome it?

Syed Salahudin: What is there to welcome. As per the figures presented by the National Conference in the Assembly there are at least 286,000 sq km of agricultural land and orchards under illegal occupation of troops. There is occupation of tourist spots which have been turned into concentration camps. Our struggle is meant to force out each and every Indian soldier from Kashmir, and give Kashmiris a free environment to decide their political future. So as long there are occupational troops inside Kashmir, our struggle will continue. Changing their positions is not issue.

Shahnawaz Khan: This question is different. It is about a British lady Alison Macdonald who went missing in Sonamarg area of Kashmir in 1981. Based on what they call your Skye, Scottish accent, her parents recently expressed suspicions that you may have been in touch with her and involved in her abduction?

Syed Salahudin: That is ridiculous. The Hizbul Mujahideen came into existence in 1989, and the lady went missing in 1981. There is no logic to the accusation.

Shahnawaz Khan: Her father is actually accusing you personally, based on what they call your Scottish Skye accent. He says that you may have been involved in her abduction?

Syed Salahudin: What her father says is just a supposition. I cannot help it. He may have been misled be some Indian propaganda. I can only say that Indian agencies have been misleading the people into believing that militants were abducting tourists in Kashmir that too before the emergence of armed resistance. That is only to destabilise the tourism industry of Kashmir. Again the person is accusing the Hizb of a crime in 1981, which itself was born in 1989. Secondly even in the 20 years of our existence as a militant group we have never carried any abductions. We do not believe in abductions.

Shahnawaz Khan: Do you know the lady. Have you even been in touch with her?

Syed Salahudin: No not at all. I have never seen her. And why should I be clarifying on all this. Why don’t you understand that Hizbul Mujahideen was born in 1989.

Shahnawaz Khan: The elections in the state are likely next year. What would be your strategy for the elections?

Syed Salahudin: Any elections under the Indian constitutions, any participation, helping the process in any way is treason to the sacrifices of Kashmiris. Every patriot and freedom loving person should stay away from the process.

Shahnawaz Khan: So would you be carrying any attacks to destabilitise the process?

Syed Salahudin: I don’t think we need to destabilise the process. The people would reject the process. If we try to destablise the process by violence that would only give India an excuse to project that people were willing to participate in the elections and they were stopped by the militants. It is a different question that there are lac of outsiders and 7.5 lac troops who poll votes and in far flung areas people are dragged to vote by troops.

Shahnawaz Khan: During the 2002 elections, there were reports that Hizbul Mujahideen supported the Peoples Democratic Party in south Kashmir. Is that true?

Syed Salahudin: It is a disinformation move of mainstream parties to catch the vote bank. In Islamabad it was said about the PDP and in Srinagar it was said about the National Conference. Hizb does not believe in elections under the Indian constitution. These reports are just propaganda of pro-India parties to get votes.

Shahnawaz Khan: Do you still believe that gun is the solution to Kashmir dispute?

Syed Salahudin: The people of Jammu and Kashmir struggled unarmed for 42 years between 1947 and 1989, but the struggle did not bear any fruit. It was a peaceful political struggle. After 42 years of unsuccessful unarmed struggle we were forced to take up the gun. It was only after serious thought and consideration. Now that we have taken up the gun, and 7.5 lac Indian occupation troops are still present in Jammu and Kashmir. India has not accepted the disputed nature of Kashmir. It is stuck to its unrealistic stand. Thousands of our people have sacrifices. So there is no justification for laying down the arms. The gun is not our aim. It is our compulsion. However in the history of freedom struggles 50 to 60 years is no long time. India itself attained freedom after more than 150 years of struggle. I believe that India has to leave Kashmir one day. I believe it more than I believe in the dawn when I go to bed. I can assure you that the dawn of freedom is coming. History is witness that no colonial power can enslave nations for ever. America had to leave Vietnam, Soviet Union, which was 300 times powerful than India had to leave Afghanistan. It (Soviet Union) was wiped off the map. France had to leave Algeria. Italy had to leave Libya. Nations have attained freedom and keep on attaining freedom. There are weaknesses in our political leadership. There are weaknesses in Pakistan government. And these weaknesses have helped India occupy Jammu and Kashmir for so long.

Shahnawaz Khan: You are talking about weaknesses in political leadership and Pakistan. Can you elaborate?

Syed Salahudin: When I talk about the weaknesses in political leadership in Kashmir, I also include Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah. When after years of struggle a leader like Sheikh took a U-turn and resorted to a sellout, the Kashmir cause was seriously hurt. Now again, when after 20 years of struggle, Kashmir dispute became an international focus, pressure was built on India, there are some of our leaders who were influenced by the unfavourable situation in the aftermath of 9/11. They were influenced by the military prowess of India and disappointed by the unfavourable situation they began to find a middle path. Likewise the Pakistan government itself showed a one sided flexibility which has deeply hurt the freedom movement. There have been a number of instances like in 1961, 1962, and 1965 and during the Kargil operation when Kashmir dispute could have been resolved but all these opportunities were lost.

(Kashmir Newz)



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