MUZAFFARABAD (POK): Kashmir’s most-wanted terrorist and the man who keeps the Valley on the boil, Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin+ , vowed on Saturday to block any peaceful political resolution to the Kashmir conflict. He threatened to train more Kashmiri suicide bombers, who would turn the Valley into “a graveyard for Indian forces”, and to take his struggle outside Kashmir.
Dismissing talks as futile, Salahuddin, 69, insisted that there was no solution to Kashmir except militancy. “The Kashmiri leadership, people and mujahideen should know there is no formal, peaceful way.” There wasn’t any option but to “launch a target-oriented armed struggle”, he told TOI in an exclusive interview+ at his office in Baila Noor Shah area of Muzaffarabad. Capital of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, Muzaffarabad is located on the banks of the Jhelum and Neelum rivers, 22km east of the Line of Control (LoC) and 125km from Islamabad.
His remarks came a day ahead of the visit of a delegation of major political parties+ led by home minister Rajnath Singh to J&K as part of the effort to de-escalate tensions.
Salahuddin, who heads the United Jihad Council, a Pakistan-backed alliance of anti-Indian Kashmiri militant groups, said the movement in Kashmir had entered a critical phase after Hizbul commander Burhan Wani’s killing.
Although he is past his prime and at risk of being eclipsed by a new generation of jihadis, Salahuddin made it clear that he had not lost his penchant for using violence. Justifying the use of suicide bombers, the mastermind of several terror attacks in Kashmir, said, “If soldiers from Andhra Pradesh, Madras, Assam, Nagaland, Haryana, Bihar and Delhi violate the sanctity of our houses, we are compelled and justified to carry out a suicide attack.”
Rubbishing the electoral process in Kashmir as an eyewash, Salahuddin claimed that the entire region stood with the separatist leadership. “The main reason that compelled me to take up weapons was the bogus, rigged and planted elections in J&K,” said Salahuddin, also known as Mohammad Yusuf Shah of Budgam.
Although he now heaps scorn on any political rapprochement, the terror chief had unsuccessfully contested the 1987 J&K assembly elections as a candidate of the Muslim United Front, an outfit sponsored by Jamaat-e-Islami.
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