Syed Salahuddin, the head of the Hizb ul Mujahideen and the Chairman of the United Jihad Council recently threatened to turn Kashmir into a graveyard for the Indian Army and unleash a wave of suicide bombers.
The Hizb ul Mujahideen is the alma mater of the much-deceased Burhan Wani. And Syed Salahuddin wanted Burhan dead. Unknowingly, the Indian Army did what Salahuddin wanted.
Salahuddin is fast losing relevance. He is nowhere as powerful as Hafiz Saeed. And he no longer has the charisma to lead militants into battle against the Indian Army. He lives in a luxurious house in Muzzafarabad (PoK), all his five sons working or studying in India and leading comfortable lives.
Syed Salahuddin wanted Burhan Wani dead for two reasons. One, Burhan’s popularity had overtaken his own and Kashmiri militants had started questioning the utility of a Syed Salahuddin sitting comfortably in PoK. Two, local militants were pushing Burhan for an overall leadership role in Hizb ul Mujahideen. No one is convinced about the utility of a vestigial organ, and Syed Salahuddin is the appendix of the Kashmir Valley militancy.
Syed Salahuddin could see Burhan Wani and his followers hijacking the Hizb-ul Mujahideen from under his nose. So, Syed Salahuddin decided to tighten his grip on his organization, lest he be relegated to the position of a titular head.
Someone very close to Burhan Muzaffar Wani betrayed him. On the night intervening 6th & 7th July 2016, someone who Burhan trusted completely, had an agenda driven by Syed Salahuddin.
The Rashtriya Rifles are elite counter-terror troops. All they need is a small opening – a blabbermouth at the local kahva shop, an intercepted mobile phone call or a disgruntled fellow militant complaining to another about how he was not paid on time. A toehold is enough for RR to start hunting.
Burhan Wani is out of the way because of the internal dynamics of the Hizb ul Mujahideen. The Indian Army doesn’t care either way. They killed a terrorist. Mission over. They will kill a hundred more Burhan Wani’s without batting an eyelid. That’s just how they are mentally structured.
And Syed Salahuddin is not even his real name. Mohammad Yusuf Shah was born on 18 February 1946 in Badgam, near Srinagar. How does an Islamist leader shore up credibility in the eyes of his illiterate and radicalized followers? He cherry picks a name from the Islamic glory days, and appropriates a legacy. Free credibility was never so instant.
An-Nasir Salah ad-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub or Salahuddin Ayyubi was a Sunni Muslim Kurd born in 1137 AD. He fought against the Christian armies in the Crusades, and was known to be an exceptional general and an even better human being. In those times when killing a person of another faith had the sanction of both mosque and church, and one could wipe out entire villages without the slightest pang of guilt (you were going to heaven, anyway) Ayyubi was a beacon of civilized conduct. In Muslim culture, specifically in Arab, Turkish and Kurdish lands he is venerated as an epitome of manliness and humility. Ayyubi was all that and much more.
After Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), the Rashidun Caliphate (the four rightly guided Caliphs who ruled the empire of Islam after the last prophet), Imam Hussain’s sacrifice is the stuff of legend and stardust. Who can forget the battle of Karbala?
And then, Salahuddin Ayyubi shines like a beacon of light.
Jump to the twentieth century and you have Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, of Turkey.
Syed Salahuddin trying to appropriate the legacy of Salahuddin Ayyubi is like a charlatan wearing a cardboard crown, and trying to behave like royalty. A seventy-year old has-been, who dyes his beard and conspires to kill his own cadre, is not anyone’s idea of a hero.
About Syed Salahuddin, I quote directly from Wikipedia:
“He is married, with five sons. His oldest son, Shakeel Yousuf, works as a medical assistant at Srinagar’s Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, second son Javed Yousuf works in the Education Department as computer operator, while Shahid Yousuf is a Research Fellow at the Sher-i-Kashmir University of Agricultural Science and Technology. Shah’s fourth son, Wahid Yusuf, studies in Sri Maharaja Hari Singh Government Medical College. Mueed Yusuf, the youngest of Shah’s sons, is pursuing a higher education degree (M.Tech.)”
So, which of Syed Salahuddin’s five sons is going to be the first suicide bomber that will turn Kashmir into a graveyard for the Indian Army? Will it be Javed, who works in the Education Department who will don the suicide vest, or will it be Shahid Yousuf who will leave his paid research fellowship to mount a fedayeen attack against the Indian Army?
Or is Jihad only for other people’s sons?
Syed Salahuddin, like his appropriated name, is a fraud. His latest statement is nothing but a desperate last shot at finding relevance in the increasingly muddied waters of the Kashmir Valley conflict.
The so-called “Kashmir struggle”, Pakistan’s name for sponsored terrorism in the Valley has new actors. They are Punjabi and Pashtun, and they have no affiliation to Kashmir. For them, Kashmir is another Dar-ul Harb (house of war), and another laboratory for the Jihad experiment and not about the much-vaunted UN Resolutions or “azaadi”.
For them, Kashmir is an extension of Syria, Iraq and Libya. It is the new petri dish for Nizam-e-Mustafa, in which they will breed a culture of political Islam, Wahhabi style. It is not about plebiscite. It is about Ghazwa-e-Hind, when a green standard will fly across India and all kafirs will have been either subjugated or killed.
We must be clear as to what we are up against in Kashmir. ISIS flags in downtown Srinagar are not just the work of a few “mischievous” youth, as Kashmiri leaders will always be at pains to point out. These are probing tactics. They seek to establish our appetite for violence and military response.
Beyond the rhetoric and jargon, the simple truth is that the Indian Army is trained to kill the enemies of the state. That is its core role. All the training and courses, maneuvers and live exercises coalesce into a one-point agenda; how to kill without fuss or ceremony. To protect India from all enemies, foreign and domestic, requires the constant honing of this rare talent.
Kashmir is the launch pad for a greater game plan. Lashkar-e-Toiba outlines it in exhaustive detail in its pamphlet “Why are we waging Jihad”.
This is a fight to the death. They will not stop till they have achieved the final aim of Ghazwa-e-Hind. Multi-party representative groups and their immature efforts to engage with the separatists will bear no fruit. The separatist’s masters are in Rawalpindi and for them Kashmir is an unfinished agenda of partition. Kashmir is their raison d’etre, their reason for existence. Gen. Raheel Sharif cannot allow peace in Kashmir.
And this is why Syed Salahuddin must be ignored. Because whenever we turn to such noise, it takes our attention away from the wolves baying at the gates.
It is time to unshackle the Indian Army. Let them do what they do best. Let them go hunting.