The commander-in-Chief of Hizbul Mujahideen, Syed Salahuddin, has in an interview to a Pakistan news channel boasted of having carried out attacks in India.
This was Salahuddin’s first interview after the US branded him a ‘global terrorist’ in the run-up to Donald Trump – Narendra Modi meet. Salahuddin, a native of Budgam’s Soibagh area, spoke in Urdu with a thick Kashmiri accent, while the photograph of Burhan Wani was displayed over Hizbul’s insignia on his side.
Salahuddin not only claimed to have supporters throughout the country – who at his behest have carried out attacks in the past – he also claimed that no one who supported security forces was beyond Hizbul’s cross-hairs, this included the Abdullah and the Mufti families.
He even hinted at targeting Israel, over its growing ties with India.
“Khud India ke andar hamare bohot saare supporters hain, jo hamse hamdardi karte hain. Humne chand kaarvaiyan karke dikhai hain. Lekin 9/11 ke baad international scenario badal gaya. Humne chaha ki hamari kaarvahi Kashmir ke baahar rahe… kyunki India ko mauka milega Kashmir ki tehreek par terrorism ka label chaspaan karne ki. (Even in India we have a lot of supporters who sympathise with us. We have carried out a few operations earlier. But the scenario changed after 9/11. We wanted to carry out operations outside Kashmir… [but we didn’t do so] because it would have given India the opportunity to label the Kashmir movement as a terrorist movement.),” said Salahuddin.
On being asked by the interviewer Salahuddin claimed that Hizbul had the ability and efficiency to hit any target in India at will. He went a step further and claimed that Hizbul had supporters, sympathisers not just in India but in other countries as well and issued a subtle warning to Israel. “Jis tarah Israel India ko support kar raha hai… Bahri duniya mein hamare bohot supporters hain (The manner in which Israel is supporting India… we to have a lot of supporters in the outside world).”
Salahuddin was then asked why Hizbul hadn’t ever targeted the big political families of Kashmir. To this Salahuddin said that whoever works for security forces, by aiding or spying for them, was not beyond the reach of Hizbul Mujahideen.
The Hizbul supremo was also asked about why he had continued to carry out a bloody militant movement in Kashmir for so long, given that it hadn’t achieved much. Since Salahuddin had once contested elections in India, he was asked whether continuing to fight poll battles would instead have been a more practical anti-state movement.
“I challenge India to remove their forces from Kashmir for three days and then fight the elections there. Only then will you see how Kashmiris will vote. You will see whether Syed Geelani, Mirwaiz, Shabbir Ahmed Shah, Yaseen Malik or Syed Salahuddin will come out as the leader or someone else entirely. The whole world will know who the genuine leader of Kashmir is.”
Salahuddin also said that Pakistan, where he stays, wasn’t doing enough to support the cause of Kashmir. On being asked whether the US branding him a global terrorist had affected his own health or the health of the terrorist outfit, Salahuddin said, “My health and that of my outfit has increased quite a bit since then. You must have yourself seen how flower petals were showered at me after the announcement was made.”
Salahuddin was on June 26 branded by the US as a global terrorist. Born Yusuf Shah in Budgam’s Soibagh area, Salahuddin was a member of Jamaat-e-Islami who went on to become a commander of Hizbul Mujahideen and then its ‘emir’. Hizbul Mujahideen is the biggest militant outfit active in Kashmir right now.