Two pro-india parties floated in J&K with army, MHA help

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Old 22-Feb-2011
Two pro-india parties floated in J&K with army, MHA help

New Delhi February 22:

Two new pro-India political outfits are being launched in J&K, headed by former militants and Ikhwan commanders, with the backing of the Union home ministry and the Indian Army.

They are in the process of hiring office space right in front of the headquarters of Hurriyat Conference, an amalgam of pro-Pakistan separatist outfits, in Srinagar's Rajbagh locality. This is an innovative attempt to counter the rising influence of "freedom movement" in J&K while providing an alternate space to pro-India elements in the Valley. Separatists and pro-freedom groups have so far dominated J&K politics.

While one outfit, with the backing of the home ministry, will be headed by former Ikhwans and ex-militant commanders Zubair-ul-Islam and Imran Rahi, the other is being launched by former militant commander from Anantnag, Liaquat Ali. The move has unnerved strategic planners in Pakistan who think the development may push the already marginalised pro-Pakistan group in the Valley into a corner. Stories have been planted in Pakistani media calling the new outfits as being launched by "traitors".

Both Imran Rahi and Zubair Islam had earlier faced elections under the umbrella of Awami National Conference of Muzaffar Shah, son of former J&K CM Ghulam Muhammad Shah. The other outfit is to be headed by Liaquat Ali, believed to have the backing of Army. Liaquat had contested last assembly elections from Anantnag.

Liaquat was the chief commander of a pro-Pakistan outfit and a terror in Anantnag area before he broke ranks and joined hands with the Army to fight militants in the early 1990s at the peak of militancy. Liaquat, like Zubair Islam and Imran Rahi, was among the first to join the ranks of Ikhwans and fight against militants and made the elections of 1996 possible. Kukka Parrey and Usman Majid were the others who became popular as Ikhwans and together they had raised one of the biggest outfits of surrendered militants.

Captain Tikoo, an Army veteran, was instrumental in raising the band of Ikhwans in the 1990s and later launching them as a political party. He is again involved in helping Zubair Islam and Liaquat in raising the political outfits to counter the pro-freedom movement gaining ground. However, when contacted, Captain Tikoo feigned ignorance of the whole matter.

Meanwhile, the government has taken many other measures to integrate the J&K youths with the mainstream. It has been on a recruitment drive in the state giving jobs to youths in the police and the security forces. The steps have already received huge response and have been a game-changer in shifting attention of youths from pelting stones to getting into formal engagements with the establishment.

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