Is Syed Salahudin, chief of the Hizbul Mujahiddin, contemplating to return to the valley and start his own political outfit in order to prevent the All Party Hurriyat Conference leadership from walking away the credit for representing the Kashmiri people?
Though intelligence agencies deny that they have any information on this score but those who worked with the dreaded terrorist at one point of time or the other swear that he is feeling miserable in Pakistan and wants to return home at the earliest.
"Indeed he has been feeling unhappy for last few months. He did not approve of the Pakistani government inviting the Hurriyat leadership to visit Islamabad. After all those wielding the gun have suffered more than those leaders of the Hurriyat conference who may not get even a single vote besides the members of their own families if they were to enter the poll fray at any point in future," Zafar Akbar Bhat alias Zafar Abdul Fatah, chief of the separatist organisation Salvation Movement, told rediff.com in New Delhi on Friday.
Former divisional commander of the Hizbul Mujahiddin, Fatah was one of the associates of Abdul Majid Dar who announced cease fire on July 24, 2000 to hold talks with the government of India in Srinagar. Dar was later killed by the rival Hizbul faction at the instance of Salahudin.
"When the ceasefire was announced it was done with the approval of Salahudin but later HM chief backed out. Let me point out that Professor Abdul Gani Bhat had criticsed the move. Now the same man is going to Pakistan to hold talks with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf. It is unfortunate that we scarificed our lives and now when it comes to taking credit they are coming forward," he said.
Asked if the reports about Salahudin wanting to come back to the valley were true he said that in the event of his return to India, Salahudin could become patron of Jammu and Kashmir Salvation Movement launched by Zafar Akbar Bhat and his associates who were trained in various training camps in Pakistan.
Coverage: The road to peace
"Though I have my differences with Salahudin Sahib but I still say that he is my leader and would welcome him to take over my organization so that he could take part in the political process which would lead to the peaceful and honourable solution to the problem of Jammu and Kashmir. Enough blood has been spilt and now we want to live in peace," he said.
According to Fatah, Salahudin has 600 boys with him and they all want to come back.
He urged the governement of India to take up the rehabilitation work of the surrendered militants on war footing so that they do not go back to jungles once more.
"Overwhelming majority of 20,000 boys want to work and live with honour and dignity. The security forces should stop picking them up and harassing them. I was a section officer when I joined militancy in 1987. Two of my houses were blown and recently my younger brother was killed in an encounter," he alleged.
He however differed with the suggestion that militancy could not help in achieving anything in life.
"Well that could be your point of view. If we had not taken up arms nobody would have cared about our plight. Now the whole world is working to solve the Kashmir problem. Let me point out one thing. When we say that we were trained in Muzaffarabad or any other place, to us it is being like in any other part of Jammu and Kashmir. As far as I am concerned, the whole of Kashmir is one," he said.
Coverage: The road to peace