New Delhi: The
largest Kashmiri guerrilla group, the Hizbul Mujahideen, has been
"almost" vanquished now and if the militant leadership based in
Pakistani Kashmir wants to join the peace process, they can, says
India's Home Secretary G.K. Pillai.
The top official, responsible for managing the country's internal
security related issues, said the government won't invite militant
leaders for talks "unless and until they give up arms".
"Militancy is down in Kashmir, every day you must be reading
reports that some militant leader or the other has been killed. I
think the Hizbul Mujahideen has literally, almost, been wiped out,
especially the Pakistan element of it has been wiped out," Pillai
said in an interview to IANS in his North Block office.
He said the government had no proposal as of now to extend talks
offer to Kashmiri militant leadership based in
Pakistan-administered Kashmir, especially to Syed Salahuddin, the
Hizubul Mujahideen chief who also heads the United Jehad Council (UJC),
a conglomerate of over a dozen terror groups operating in Jammu
"If (he) Salahudin wants to come and talk, he is welcome if he
gives up violence. We are not saying no to anybody. He has to come
here and talk. Nobody is going there to talk to him," Pillai told
Asked why the government was reluctant to take militant leaders
onboard the peace process, Pillai said: "There are less than a
hundred local militants (in Kashmir). Nobody would even talk to
them. They don't represent anybody."
Jammu and Kashmir has been battling a bloody separatist campaign
since 1989 that has left nearly 70,000 people, mostly civilians,
dead. The figure is disputed with officials maintaining that the
number of dead is 50,000. India has maintained hundreds of
thousands of security forces in the state to fight the insurgency
sponsored by Pakistan.
Thousands of Kashmiri youth in early 1990s had crossed the Line of
Control - a de facto border that divides the state between India
and Pakistan - for arms training in militant camps in the part of
Kashmir under Pakistani control.
Pillai said the threat of revival of militancy remains even as the
forces have been maintaining a tough vigil across the border with
"The threat is there. There are still people in the valley. There
are hundreds of people still across (in Pakistani Kashmir) who
want to come as the snow has started melting and it becomes easier
for them to cross over. I am sure some will cross. We have to be
vigilant, we have no option."
Pillai, who is retiring June 30, said the scheme to grant amnesty
to Kashmiri militants in Pakistan who want to surrender and return
home will take off soon.
"We have announced the scheme for those who are across and want to
come over and take amnesty. The scheme has been announced, and in
the next few months you will see lots of Kashmiris who had gone to
that side will start coming."
The scheme announced last year will bring joy to hundreds of
distressed familes in the Kashmir Valley and other
Muslim-dominated areas in the Jammu region whose youths left them
for jehad training in Pakistan.
According to official estimates, some 3,000 Kashmiri men are in
Pakistan living in trying conditions, involved in petty jobs, many
of them even begging, according to people who have visited the
area. They have been writing to and calling up their families to
express their desperation to return home - if the government gives
Pillai said the militant groups have not been able to recruit
fresh Kashmiri youth in recent times, and this has also helped in
curbing terror in the state. "The recruitment of local militants
is much less now. They are not effective that much."
(Sarwar Kashani can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)