New Delhi, Oct 20 The Hizbul Mujahideen is planning on raising an exclusive group of Sikh youths. Our Sikh brothers have been requesting us to let them join the Hizbul Mujahideen.
We are in the process of making that exclusive group, the self styled commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen, Zakir Rashid Bhat said in a 1.38 minute video message. Since the video was released, officials have been trying to read into the larger message that the commander is trying to give out.
It is clear that he is referring to the Khalistan movement and is attempting to enlarge the scope of the Hizbul Mujahideen. After the massive crack down on Sikh militancy, several senior leaders of the Babbar Khalsa, Khalistan Zindabad Force among others fled to Pakistan and have been nurtured by the ISI since.
Is the Hizbul Mujahideen trying to revive Sikh militancy:
From the message that Rashid tries to give out, it is clear that he is aiming at reviving Sikh militancy. He speaks about an exclusive Sikh outfit and makes an unverified claim that the Sikhs have been asking him to let them into the group. An intelligence bureau official says that the Hizbul Mujahideen is trying to create a forum for the Sikh militants so that they come first to Kashmir and aide them in their fight. The long term plan however would be to create an exclusive wing of the outfit for Sikhs in Punjab.
The officer also adds that the message comes at a time when Punjab is readying for elections. A few months back itself there was heightened activity in ISI sponsored camps to spread communal tension in Punjab ahead of the polls. Further the ISI was also planning to launch Sikh militants into Punjab to disrupt the elections.
Intelligence Bureau officials have also picked up intercepts suggesting that a major fund raising drive is underway in London and Canada to fund Sikh militants.
Officials also say that the Hizbul Mujahideen commander is trying to test the waters. He is trying to lay the ground work and find out how many locals from the Sikh community in Punjab may show interest in his offer. There may not be many takers, officials say. However attempts would be made to launch the Sikh militants who are being nurtured in Pakistan into India, Intelligence Bureau officials also point out.