Virtual Homeland of Kashmiri Pandits

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Volume 2, No. 11 - April 2003

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Two different terrorist groups used this nomenclature at varying points of time in the decade-old insurgency in Kashmir. Initially, in August 1988, some terrorists associated with a socio-religious organisation in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), the Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI), are reported to have started two terrorist outfits namely the Al-Badr and the Jammu and Kashmir Student Liberation Front (JKSLF) to counter the growing popularity of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), a terrorist outfit that advocated an independent and sovereign Jammu and Kashmir.

Prompted and encouraged by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the Jamaat-e-Islami of Pakistan reportedly colluded with extremist elements within the JeI to channel the ferment in Kashmir towards a pro-Pakistan line. Under the leadership of Master Ahsan Dhar, a faction of these extremist elements formed the Al-Badr. This was soon renamed as the Hizb-ul Mujahideen.

By 1994, the ISI had assumed control over the insurgency in Kashmir and was increasingly inducting professional mercenaries to intensify terrorist violence in J&K. Several outfits were created, strengthened and at times marginalised to suit the variations in ISI's strategies.

Indian intelligence sources report that the new version of the Al-Badr was formed as part of this changed strategy, in 1998, through the induction of foreign mercenaries serving in several other terrorist outfits in Kashmir. At its formation, this version of Al-Badr was led by Lukmaan, a national of Pakistan controlled Kashmir. Presently, news reports emnating from Pakistan indicate that the outfit's chief is Bhakt Zameen.

The Al-Badr, which was defunct for quite some time, has, with increasing frequency, begun to claim responsibility for several acts of violence in the State. Security forces too have been reporting that several terrorists killed in the year 2000 were activists of the outfit. In one such incident, five terrorists, reported to be part of an Al-Badr suicide squad, were killed when security forces raided their hideout in Theuru near Ganderbal. This is the only outfit, other than the Lashkar-e-Toiba, to employ suicide squads.The outfit has virulently opposed the recent cease-fire declared by Prime Minister A B Vajpayee. It has also criticised persons and organisations that have accorded a positive response to the cease-fire.

The outfit has faced a series of reverses, particularly as security forces strengthened counter-insurgency operations after the withdrawal of the Ramadan cease-fire. In a major reverse, Nadeem Khan, suspected to be the outfit's sucide terrorist wing chief, was killed during an encounter at Ganderbal on July 16. Security forces reported that after the arrest of a top 'commander' of the outfit, Salah-ud-din, in 1999, Nadeem Khan had re-organised the Al-Badr, particularly in Srinagar, and carried out over a dozen attacks on security forces. Both Nadeem Khan and Salah-ud-din were Pakistani nationals.

The outfit has also criticised several official Pakistani statements that have cast any negative aspersions on the terrorist activity in J&K. In a statement released from Islamabad on June 6, 2001, Al-Badr chief Bakht Zameen criticised Gen. Musharraf's remarks that religious bodies were misappropriating Jihad funds.

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