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Endgame Syed Salahuddin: The death of the Hizbul Mujahideen in the Valley

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The United Jihad Council is a conglomerate of several terrorist groups and is headed by the Hizbul Mujahideen chief, Syed Salahuddin. In the past few months, there has been immense pressure on him to step down, a development that man himself had termed as fake.

Syed Salahuddin

While the UJC denied any such developments, Intelligence Bureau officials say that in the wake of Salahuddin lacking any inspiration, he is being pressurised to step aside yet again. The Pakistan's ISI and army want a change to be effected immediately as they feel that the Hizbul Mujahideen has contributed the least to the fight in Kashmir over the past two years.

When one says Hizbul Mujahideen, a reference to Burhan Wani is immediately made. Since he decided to take the social media route, he had become an instant star among the locals and the recruitments surged in no time. The youth looked up to him and joined the outfit in his name.

None of the youth of Kashmir relate to Salahuddin and him staying on top makes no sense to the ISI any longer. As part of the plan, the Hizbul Mujahideen was tasked with the day to day operations in the Valley while the Jaish and Lashkar-e-Tayiba would be used for the bigger attacks. Both the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and the Jaish come under the UJC which is headed by Salahuddin.

Many within the other terror groups have questioned the rationale of having Salahuddin as the head, especially at a time when he does not matter in his own state of Kashmir. While Salahuddin continues to remain the head of the UJC, the post is a monumental one. He is not being allowed to take any decisions as the major ones are made by the likes of Maulana Masood Azhar or Hafiz Saeed, of course in consultation with the ISI.

Intelligence Bureau officials tell OneIndia that they see the same happening with the Hurriyat too. Gradually, the funding has reduced to both the Hurriyat and Hizbul and the entire battle is being taken over by the Jaish and Lashkar. If one tracks all the recent attacks, they have been undertaken by the Jaish or the Lashkar. The Lashkar-e-Tayiba has intact set up a dedicated module to prepare bombs while the Jaish looks to infiltrate Pakistanis to carry out fidayeen strikes.

IB sources say that Salahuddin is no longer a charismatic leader. There is not a single aspiring terrorist in Kashmir who would join the ranks if his name is cited. In fact there is a great deal of anger against him as many believe that he was too busy filling up his own coffers instead of fighting for the cause. The Hizbul Mujahideen changed heavily under Burhan Wani. He became a source of inspiration for many aspiring terrorists. He had a dedicated team of 11 persons including him. However each one of them was killed in encounters while one surrendered.

With the Burhan gang perishing the Hizbul Mujahideen has completely failed to fill up that vacuum and the fact that Salahuddin is the chief is making no impact on the prospects of the outfit. Sources say that Salahuddin has been given the option of a decent exit. However he seems to be clinging on to the post although his clout has declined to almost nil.

Pakistan which is busy with the elections for now would not want to drastically alter anything for now. However post July they would look to start afresh and sources in India say that Salahuddin would not be part of that plan.

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