Mystery of Majid Dar’s killing

There is no denying fact that killing of former chief commander operations of Hizbul Mujahideen Abdul Majid Dar came at a very crucial time in the perspective of international as well as regional developments. As usual India, Pakistan and Kashmiris are engaged in blame game. Abdul Ghani lone was killed in broad daylight and so many other distinguished sons of Kashmir met with their tragic fate in similar fashion. Is this yet another killing?

Dar was not an ordinary militant commander but had enough intellectual capital to make a future political leader of the Kashmiris. The opinion is just not mine but many hoped for Dar to become a leading figure in days ahead. He lived his whole life to attain the right of self-determination for Kashmiris. He started his political straggle with the Peoples’ League and simultaneously spent his time with Syed Ali Geelani. In initials days of his political career, he was actively involved with Geelani’s election campaigns.

During that time, he was even jailed on several occasions, sometimes for an entire year. Dar claimed unusual fame for announcing a unilateral ceasefire in July 2000. Although his idea failed to earn much for the Kashmiri people but brought his very self as a moderate face not only amongst the Hizbul Mujahideen but from the entire militant struggle. It is due to this ceasefire that Washington and other western capitals regard Hizb as an indigenous and genuine fighting force of Kashmiris. It is worth mentioning here that Dar was not a militant from the core. Initially, he was a political worker who remerged as a political leader after announcing ceasefire while heading the most lethal militant organisation. His cease-fire initiative was a purely a political move which cost him heavily. Subsequently, Syed Salahuddin, Hizb’s chief, replaced Dar with Saif-ul-Islam, and finally dismissed Dar and his loyal commanders in 2002. Still, Majid Dar opted to set aside all speculations of parting company with Salahuddin, saying that he would keep the Hizb united at all costs. Dar also said that the Hizb was the only outfit with strong local base. ”And any rift in it will be no less than a tragedy,” said the Kashmiri leader who proved to have a heart of gold.

Even after his expulsion from the militant flock, many were expecting Dar to launch a political party as well as join mainstream politics. Some rumors also hinted at his contacts with the Indian authorities. Proving all these rumours mere fragments of imagination, Dar was all set to quit Valley and shift to the AJ&K. Some information plus a good number of neutral analysts suggest that even the Indian intelligence agencies could have eliminated Dar for the fact that he wanted the Hizbul Mujahideen to remain intact.

Dar began his career from the rock of the bottom and raised himself to the leadership of the Jammu and Kashmir. Surprisingly enough, in mid 70 he was running a dry-cleaning shop in Sopur and in 1993, he was the most-wanted person of Indian state. Like many other Kashmiri youngsters, he turned back to the political and peaceful struggle after seeing the 1987’s rigged elections results. He said, “The lection completely changed the scenario. I was in jail, but those outside decided to take to an armed struggle. Some went to Afghanistan. The security personnel used to enter the homes of many youngsters and treated their mothers, sisters and wives in an uncivil way. There were many like him. It emerged then that there was no way out apart from an armed struggle.”

Majid Dar grew up in a turbulent period of Kashmir political history. Once, he narrated his childhood in a very interesting way. “When I was a child, the movement for the right of self-determination was going on under the leadership of Sheikh Abdullah. At that period we were studying in primary school, the atmosphere was one of daily hartals (strikes), demonstrations etc. It had an impact on me. At home, we used to hear stories about these processions, demonstrations etc. I was born in this atmosphere and grew up in these circumstances. So it was obvious that it had an impact on us. As time passed, I also joined the movement, and served it according to my age, and stature.”

With this background, he formed the Tehreek Jehad-e-Islami (TJI) in early 1990 but latter on merged it in the Hizbul Majahideen. Over the years, he became the number two in the highly-disciplined Kashmiri outfit. He came to Pakistan in 1993. It was August 1996, when he went back to come back in 1997. During his stay here till May 2000, he befriended so many Pakistanis and the Kashmiri diasporas. He cultivated support for Kashmir cause among a cross-section of the society. Before going back to the Valley, he had a lot of creative ideas to politicize the whole struggle to frustrate the Indian designs. In this regard, he was desperate to earn maximum backing from the Pakistani establishment. He could not get enough. Therefore, he faced some frustrating in Islamabad. Along with the militancy, he was deliberating on various alternative options to advance the freedom struggle.

Dar’s openness to make public his future course of action made his contemporaries feel more threatened from him. He often used to say, “Myself and my group are searching for a political solution.” Dar was not one of those who have always been following the beaten track of history. He was imaginative and on the number of occasions, he proved supremacy of his caliber and wisdom over his contemporaries. Contrary to Salahuddin he never developed a trust and credibility among the pro-freedom cadre. He used to be considered as an ambitious man till his death. Owing to these reasons, Kashmir observers have different views about his personality as well as the tragic end he met.

Unlikely many other militant commanders, Dar was a good leader and impressive negotiator. He had always kept his eye on the fast-changing global political realities. Quite often he tried to respond them amicably, his cease-fire move being one such fresh example.

Like many instance of past assassinations, no body will be able to correctly point to the killers of Dar but the experts are asking searching question from themselves as well as all and sundry as to who would be the next target of such forces. Such systematic killings are being carried out to deprive the resistance movement from a far-sighted leadership. Without such seasoned leaders, any movement can become rudderless breaking free from all bindings of goals and ideology. Besides in the absences of such dissenting voices, even India would face greater difficulty in managing the conflict. The thumb rule should be for all the stake-holders nation-states and non-state actors to respect them by offering the required breathing space.

The writer is a specialist on dynamics of Jammu and Kashmir conflict and India-Pakistan relations. He has recently visited Indian-Held Jammu and Kashmir.