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Stay away, Pandits told

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  • Published 4.08.08

Srinagar, Aug. 3: Hizb-ul Mujahideen founder Ahsan Dar has announced his return from Muzaffarabad to join the jihad, with a warning to the exiled Kashmiri Pandit community not to return home.

A CD containing his statement was distributed among some media agencies in Kashmir. In it, he has asked the Pandits not to return to the Valley unless New Delhi solves the Kashmir issue.

“I will advise Kashmiri Pandits not to take a foolish step to return to the Valley. And those leaders who have sympathy with the Pandits’ return, leave Kashmir and stay with them in Jammu,” Dar said.

Dar had founded the Hizb in 1989 but was dislodged a year later by Syed Salahuddin and forced to set up a new militant group by the name of Muslim Mujahideen.

He was arrested in the early 1990s and released after spending several years behind bars.

“In the late 1990s, he left for Pakistan-occupied Kashmir again and, if the reports about his return are true, then he is back in the Valley after around a decade,” a police official said.

Dar had differences with the Jamat-e-Islami, which had then declared the Hizb its militant wing. This led to his ouster and replacement by Syed Salahuddin. A teacher by profession, he belongs to the Pattan area of south Kashmir.

“The Kashmir issue concerns 1.2 crore Muslims of the state and it does not revolve around Kashmiri Pandits alone. Nobody talks of Muslim migrants living in Azad Kashmir and we believe when the issue of 1.2 crore will be resolved, we can then think about Kashmiri Pandits,” Dar said.

This is in marked contrast to the statement of other separatist leaders who are encouraging Kashmiri Pandits to return.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in April set the stage for the return of Kashmiri migrant Pandits to their homes and announced a package estimated at Rs 1,600 crore, which included Rs 7.5 lakh for rebuilding houses, identifying land and providing the unemployed Pandit youths with jobs.