Hizbul Mujahideen commander Zakir Musa on Saturday delinked himself from the militant organisation after his fellow members criticised his threat to behead the Hurriyat’s separatist leaders for calling their struggle a political, and not an Islamic one. Musa had taken over as Hizbul’s chief after its previous commander, Burhan Wani, was killed by Indian security forces on July 8, 2016.
“If Hizbul Mujahideen doesn’t represent me, then I also don’t represent them,” Musa is believed to have said in an audiovisual statement. “From today onwards, I have no association with Hizbul Mujahideen.”
Earlier in the day, Hizbul Mujahideen spokesperson Saleem Hashmi had said that Musa’s threats were his “personal opinion” and that such a statement was unacceptable to the group.
Musa clarified that his threat had not been against Hurriyat leaders per se. “But see I had not said anything against a particular person or [Hurriyat leader Sayeed Ali Shah] Geelani sahab, but only against that individual who is against Islam and talks about freedom for secular state.”, Greater Kashmir reported. He added that he did not want to give up his life for the establishment of such a secular state, and that he stood by his words.
On Friday, Musa had released a clip in which he purportedly said, “Some days back the joint resistance leaders issued a statement saying Kashmir struggle is political and it has nothing to do with religion. We warn these Hurriyat people not to interfere in our matters and remain with their dirty politics otherwise we will cut their heads and hang them in Lal Chowk.”
Musa quitting the Hizbul Mujahideen is a sign of fractures within the separatist movement in Kashmir. Thousands of civilians and security have died or been injured since the calls for freedom precipitated in 1989. After Wani’s killing, the state faced months of violent protests, which led to schools, colleges and businesses being shut down, as well as brutal mob-control tactics by the Indian security forces.