I am originally a resident of Pattan area of district Baramulla. I crossed the line of control in 1989 for arms training. After receiving training for more than one year I returned to Kashmir and started to work as an activist of JKLF [Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front].
I was mostly operative in District Baramulla and District Budgam. JKLF came under tough rivalry with HM. On one side the group was fighting with military and paramilitary troopers and on the other side we used to face clashes with HM. All through the clashes between two outfits many members of JKLF fell to the bullets of HM militants.
At some point in 1991, I was arrested by the army during a raid in Budgam. I was arrested along with my AK-47 rifle, which I had brought from Pakistan. I was dejected and disheartened by the routine clashes between our outfit and HM. After my arrest, I declared my surrender with the army. Shortly after 6 months, I was released from the jail. Due to fear for life from HM outfit I migrated to Shehlipora, Achabal, Islamabad, where I had some of my friends. After release, I completely relinquished my relations with JKLF. Few weeks after my release the militants of HM outfit raided my residential place in Shehlipora. They forced me to join their outfit or to face consequence.
To save my life I joined HM and started to work with them in the Achabal area. In 1992 there was disturbance within HM between Syed Salahuddin and Mohammad Ahsan Dar. When the contention between two commanders intensified Ahsan Dar along with his 350 supporters disaffiliated himself from HM and formed a new group namely Muslim Mujahideen. MM under the patronization of Ahsan Dar started to operate in South Kashmir also. Majority of militants in MM outfit were fed up with the disorder and fuss among the militant groups, particularly from HM. Few months after the formation of MM we decided to surrender in front of SP Gill at District Police Lines Baramulla.
On our surrender, police registered our names along with our weapons. Shortly, we became operatives in counter insurgency operations with police in South Kashmir. We established our encampment at Shehlipora village because MM already had a strong hold in the village. All 350 activists were staying in the same village and our chief commander was Ghulam Nabi Azad. Police returned our weapons and provided us ammunition for combating militants. From 1994 police started to provide us salary. General rank activists were paid rupees 1500/month while the commanders and battalion commanders were paid 4500/month. Money was being brought by Nabi Azad from district police lines Anantnag.
Initially, we worked together with Ikhwan-ul-Muslimoon but later we withdrew because they were working with multiple security agencies whereas we had intended to work with police and SOG only. All the activists of MM were putting up at Shehlipora. On the periphery of the village, the MM workers had constructed bunkers. Many a times the village came under strong attacks by HM militants. The main target of MM was militants of HM outfit. In 1996 there was a strong influence of militancy in South Kashmir. Even police were afraid of militant strikes. In the same year Dr. Farooq Abdullah, former president of National Conference wanted to organize an election campaigning activities concerning then State Legislative Assembly Elections. Police refused to provide protection to the NC rally. But our commander Nabi Azad offered protection to Farooq Abdullah and with our help he held a big rally at Bijbehara. For giving protection to NC rally and to make NC win in South Kashmir Farooq Abdullah assured us that he would give four seats to the senior members of MM in the legislative council. Even he gave us written deed about this negotiation, which still might be lying with some activist of MM. He also promised Nabi Azad that he would make him deputy CM of Jammu and Kashmir. We were powerful in the area. In lure of political interests, we forcibly took out people from houses for casting their votes to NC during 1996 Assembly Elections. It was only MM which made the elections possible in South Kashmir and also helped NC in winning the seats. Later, after NC came in power they breached us and could not keep their promises. They used us to win the elections.
Even in 1990’s when nobody from New Delhi dared to visit Kashmir our commander talked to then Prime Minister Mr. Gujral and Mr. Rajesh Pilot who had planned to visit the state for announcing Jammu-Srinagar railway project. We provided complete protection to the Prime Minister during his three days visit to South Kashmir. We even organized everything despite extreme fear from the militant organizations. More than 200 members of MM safeguarded all the activities during Prime Minister’s visit to the state. Nabi Azad was in a very close relation with Mr. Gujral and Mr. Rajesh Pilot. Healso visited New Delhi many times to meet the central government ministers.
We killed many militants of HM and other outfits – mostly foreigners. To get the information about the hiding of militants, MM activists were using local sources. Sources were being paid by MM. Small operations were being carried out by the MM activists themselves whereas the big operations were done with the assistance of police and SOG and sometimes other military or paramilitary agencies. Our commander Nabi Azad was a very clever and intelligent person. Our main intention was to eliminate HM militants but sometimes militants of other groups like Harkat were also being killed during our operations. In retaliation, Harkat killed many of our activists.
In mid 90’s we had a ceasefire with Harkat-ul- Ansar because both Harkat and MM was in conflict with HM. Despite working with police we discussed with Harkat not to harm each other and jointly combat HM militants. Nabi Azad after discussing with Javaid Ahmad [then commander of Harkat] declared ceasefire between MM and Harkat. After ceasefire he sent many MM spies to join Harkat who used to work as secret agents. Harkat entertained our cadres and deemed them as normal militants who combat security agencies. Our spies were collecting information about the actions and plans of Harkat minutely which also helped our group to eliminate whole Harkat outfit from the district. Nabi Azad had a deliberate ceasefire with Harkat just to get MM agents infiltrated into Harkat. The undercover agents were deployed to scout every move of the outfit. This strategy proved successful to MM in countering Harkat outfit.
In the beginning of 2003, Nabi Azad was killed by militants and then I took over as the chief commander of MM. I worked as head of MM for about four months. When I took over as chief, police provided a bullet proof ambassador car to me and also deployed six PSO’s for my security. I also contested Panchayat elections and won it.
Apart from being the chief of MM I also happened to be the Sarpanch for six villages. But in the same year police ordered us to surrender the weapons because PDP government came in power. All MM activists surrendered in front of police. Since 1994 police and government had promised us jobs in defense but at the end, they expelled us without caring for our lives and future.
Since we quit working as counter-insurgents we were left helpless. We face many social problems as we are hated in the society. Whenever there is any pro–freedom uprising in Kashmir we migrate near to district police lines Islamabad. Our life has become fragile as fear for life always impends on us. My house in Shehlipora was attacked five times. Due to security reasons, I had sent my family to Jammu.
My house was protected by 12 security officers of police who used to stay there day and night. I myself would stay at safer places inside the village. I was safeguarded by 6 PSOs. Once a rocket hit the kitchen of my house and smashed the construction completely.
Tanveer (name changed) is from Achabal, Islamabad. He was a commander of Muslim Mujahideen, who later turned into renegades.