Syed Salahuddin, alias Mohd Yusuf Shah, the head of the terrorist group Hizbul Mujahideen and the leader of the “alliance” of Kashmiri terrorist organisations, the United Jihad Council, who is on the most wanted list of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), spoke to The Sunday Guardian on Wednesday night over telephone from an undisclosed location in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK). In English punctuated with Urdu he confessed that the Pakistan government has been supporting his “jihad” and added that the PoK too is a part of the Kashmir that he and his colleagues want. He also kept repeating that it was Jawaharlal Nehru who promised “freedom” to Kashmir, thus ignoring India’s legitimate claim on the valley. Excerpts:

Q: Why are you creating disturbances in the Kashmir valley? Why don’t you fight for your “cause” while staying in the Kashmir valley rather than operating from Pakistan occupied Kashmir?

A: The so called PoK is also a part of Kashmir, a part of the entire Kashmir that existed prior to 1947. For me this Kashmir, which you are calling PoK, is also a part of the unified Kashmir. What the Indian government calls “disturbance” is a war of azaadi for us. The azaadi that was promised to the Kashmiris by Jawaharlal Nehru while addressing two lakh people from Srinagar’s Lal Chowk, where he made a commitment that plebiscite and self determination would take place in Kashmir. 

Q: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has stated that 5% of the total Kashmiri population is involved in creating disturbances and they too are doing this because they are being instigated by the terror groups.

A: This is a totally false statement and is far from the ground realties. Ever since Burhan Wani has been killed by the Indian forces, lakhs of Kashmiris have come out on the streets and until now 73 people have died, while many have been injured. This lady is lying when she says that only 5% of Kashmiris are creating trouble. Which Kashmiri will risk the danger of losing his or her eyesight just because I am telling him to come out and protest? The Kashmiris are seeking self determination, which was promised to them by Jawaharlal Nehru. I request the Indian government to follow the usul (principles) of non violence taught by Mahatma Gandhi when dealing with Kashmir.

Q: Why don’t you speak on the atrocities that are being committed in Balochistan by the Pakistan army?

A: Balochistan’s situation, as per Pakistan’s assessment, has been created by India through its RAW agents. My concern is with Kashmir, my motherland. I have no concern with what is happening in the rest of the world. I cannot speak on what is happening in Balochistan or in Nagaland.

Q: In this so called azaadi movement, you are receiving support from the Pakistan army. Isn’t that illegal? (Pakistani army supporting a terror group.)

A: Pakistan as a state is supporting me and is giving me diplomatic, political and moral support. It is supporting me because the Kashmir issue is a tripartite issue involving India, Pakistan and the Kashmiris, which has been accepted by the international community.

Q: In view of the recent disturbances, it is clear that there has been no support for the “Kashmiri cause” from the international community.

A: Definitely not. In view of the recent tension in the valley, the support for the Kashmir cause has increased. This issue has got support from the intelligentsia that is in the JNU (Jawaharlal Nehru University), Shankaracharya-ji has also supported the Kashmiri cause, the people of Ashoka University (Haryana) have also come out in support. From London to Washington, we are getting lots of voices of support for us.

(Goverdhan Peethadhishwar Shankaracharya Adhokshjanand Devtirth last week called for a plebiscite on both sides of Kashmir for a “permanent solution” of the problem. 80 students and employees of the Haryana-based Ashoka University wrote an open letter to Government of India, asking it to demilitarise Jammu and Kashmir and hold a plebiscite. The university later stated that this was not the university’s view.)

Q: But haven’t things worsened for the people in Kashmir because of your “azaadi” movement, which has been going on for so many decades now?

A: You need to recall that how many years India was under the British control before being eventually freed. What is the value of 70 years’ struggle for the azaadi of Kashmir? During that time Subhas Chandra Bose and Bhagat Singh Sahab were also called terrorists. I have no objections in accepting this title subject to India declaring that they (Bose and Bhagat Singh) were also terrorists. 

Q: The Central government has hinted that now it is not going to talk to the separatist leadership of Kashmir.

A: If they will not talk to them then how will they resolve the issue? It cannot be resolved without their involvement. More than 150 bilateral meets have happened between India and Pakistan without any concrete result. Bilateral talks are unnatural, unrealistic and unscientific. This is not a border dispute and hence you need to include the political leadership of Kashmir, not just the leadership of Pakistan and India. We just want the plebiscite that was promised by Nehru to take place, and if the Kashmiris decide that they want to stay with India, we have no problem; if Kashmiris say we want to go with Pakistan, we have no problem; if they want to become independent, then so be it. During the tripartite talks, if the Government of India, the political leadership of Kashmir and Pakistan decide that the jihadi leadership too should be included in the talks, we are ready to become a part of this process.

Q: When will you come back to your “motherland”?

A: If my friends tell me that my presence is needed there, then I will come back tomorrow. I came here (PoK) because my friends told me that I was needed here.

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