Al-Qaeda in Kashmir: A militant is a militant, regardless of outfit, says DGP Vaid

Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police (DGP) S P Vaid on Friday played down reports of former Hizbul Mujahideen militant commander Zakir Musa being named as the head of al-Qaeda cell in the state, saying “a militant was a militant” regardless of the outfit.

According to a report in a British daily newspaper, The Guardian, an ‘Al-Qaida-affiliated propaganda channel’ has announced one of Kashmir’s most popular militant leaders as the head of a newly created cell in the disputed Himalayan territory.

“The appointment of Zakir Musa as head of the new group represents the first time militants linked to al-Qaeda have operated openly in Kashmir, site of a decades-long insurgency and the only Muslim-majority region under Indian control,” the report said.

Musa had recently broken ranks with Hizbul Mujahideen after terming Kashmir a political issue instead of Islamic struggle meant to enforce Shariah (Islamic rule) in the state. “A militant is a militant, whichever outfit he belongs to. Somebody who has picked up a gun is a militant for us,” DGP S P Vaid said.

He was responding to a question over naming of Musa as the chief of Jammu and Kashmir unit of al-Qaeda.

The situation in Kashmir Valley was limping back to normalcy, he added. Responding to a query that militants were targeting families of policemen in south Kashmir, the DGP said it was their frustration.

Vaid said all law enforcement agencies were supporting the National Investigation Agency (NIA) probe into the role of separatists in funding subversive activities in the Valley. “All law enforcement agencies were in unison. We have no differences. We did support them. When the raids were conducted, the Jammu and Kashmir Police was with them,” he said.

The state police chief said only time will tell whether the top three resistance leaders–chairmen of both factions of Hurriyat Conference Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and JKLF chief Yasin Malik–would be questioned by the NIA.

“We are working with the people. Jammu and Kashmir police belongs to them,” he said. The DGP said such events would help in reducing stone-pelting in the Valley.

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