Why Blame Only Salahuddin?
The ineptitude displayed by the local police and administration in Kashmir provided opportunity to terrorists based in Pakistan. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) released to media transcripts of taped conversation between Kashmiri separatists in J&K and commanders of the Hizbul Mujahideen based in Pakistan. The intercepted dialogue revealed that the recent spate of stone throwing by Kashmiri youth was exploited and funded by the Hizbul Mujahideen to cynically create martyrs of police firing among the Valley’s teenagers. This will help Islamabad in the forthcoming Indo-Pak talks of foreign ministers. The Hizbul Mujahideen is led by Syed Salahuddin. It might be appropriate to infer therefore that the heightened scale of the current crisis in J&K is partly created by Salahuddin.
But who created Salahuddin? Recall some facts. Salahuddin’s real name was Mohammed Yousaf Shah. He was a student activist from a middle class family. He decided to contest the assembly elections in 1987 by becoming a candidate of the newly formed Muslim United Front (MUF) from Srinagar’s Amirakadal constituency. The MUF was a front of extreme separatist organizations. He lost the poll against Farooq Abdullah’s National Conference candidate. Even among visiting media persons there was widespread belief that the 1987 polls were heavily rigged. Mohammed Yusaf Shah agitated against alleged rigging and was put in jail by National Conference with the blessing of Rajiv Gandhi’s Government. This triggered anti-India sentiments and the seeds of militancy were planted in the Kashmir Valley.
After his release in 1989 Shah claimed the authorities continued to threaten him. He used this as justification to support armed struggle. He joined a fledgling armed militant organization, Hizbul Mujahideen that was founded by Muhammad Ahsan Dar with support from ISI. Yousuf Shah adopted the name of Syed Salahuddin in honour of Saladin, the 12th century Arab Muslim warrior who fought in the Crusades. The Hizbul was backed by Pakistan against the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) which sought independence for the state. The Hizbul wanted merger with Pakistan. However, the Hizbul remained a minor player for many years.
Then in 1991 something happened. Ashfaq Lone the deputy intelligence chief of the Hizbul was arrested in Delhi with big unexplained money. That was how the police stumbled upon the infamous Jain Hawala case. After questioning Lone the police also arrested Shahbuddin Gori who allegedly had ISI links while studying in the Jawaharlal Nehru University. In February 1991 Gori had gone to Pakistan where he had met Salahuddin who gave him a letter for the Hizbul chief Ahsan Dar.
The CBI swung into action. It registered a TADA case as soon as it was discovered that hawala money was paid to Kashmiri insurgents. OP Sharma was the CBI official who pursued the TADA case. But then the police stumbled on the Jain diaries which revealed that the same conduits that funded the Kashmir insurgents were also funding over 40 leading politicians of the country. The recipients cut across party lines and included Rajiv Gandhi, LK Advani, Madhav Rao Scindia, Rajesh Pilot and all the who’s who of Indian politics. All had to be investigated under the TADA law. Therefore CBI stalled the TADA probe.
In a sting operation the CBI unsuccessfully tried to implicate their unrelenting official, OP Sharma, probing the case. It alleged that he was the recipient of bribes. In an astounding move it refused to charge sheet Moolchand Shah who had been apprehended as a prime conduit for hawala payments to the Kashmiri insurgents as well as to politicians. The TADA case was illegally converted into a corruption case against the politicians. After arresting the Kashmiri separatists who received hawala funds and sentencing them to brief jail terms the TADA probe was closed. Syed Salahuddin who was a minor separatist at that time was among those being probed. He hugely benefited from the closure of the TADA case. To protect politicians therefore the CBI aborted investigation of newborn Hizbul Mujahideen.
Recently a book by a former CBI official who investigated the Jain Hawala case wrongly claimed that there was no terrorist angle to the case. This was arrant nonsense of course. In his book the name of Moolchand Shah does not even figure! Moolchand Shah who was let off by the Jain Hawala case investigators despite overwhelming evidence against him was eventually convicted after ten years for being the conduit of funds in the Mumbai bomb blasts case.
After getting reprieve from the Jain Hawala TADA probe Salahuddin never looked back. He became the supreme leader of the Hizbul which continued to flourish. According to official sources even the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) is linked to Hizbul Mujahideen. Today Salahuddin also heads the 14-member United Jihad Council, a group of Pakistan-based terrorist organizations. This is the man who is credited with fanning the fires of the current unrest in the Valley. He was provoked to become a terrorist by the alleged rigging of his election in 1987. He was helped to grow by the motivated closure of the TADA case against him. Neither fact exonerates him for becoming a terrorist. He is guilty. But what about India’s political system that helped create Salahuddin? Is it not equally guilty?
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Dr. Rajinder Puri
Top | Analysis
|Brilliant, insightful and informative as usual. Thank you!