Syed Salahuddin is not a figure unknown outside J&K in the rest of India but as it happens with most leaders of terrorist groups, knowledge about them always remains peripheral. So who exactly is the bearded Rasputin looking and cap wearing character who has just gained further notoriety by being designated a global terrorist by the US? 71 year old Salahuddin, a Jamati to boot (member of the Jamat e Islami Kashmir – JeI), contested the J&K assembly elections of 1987 on the ticket of Muslim United Front and lost due to alleged serious rigging in the Amirakadal constituency, forcing him to become a renegade. He joined the HM in 1989 and later became its supremo. HM became the militant face of the JeI(K) and Salahuddin virtually SAS Geelani’s pointsman. He moved across the LoC in 1990 and later was appointed the Chairman of the United Jihad Council (UJC) in 1994, a Muzaffarabad based conglomerate of initially 13 terrorist organizations focused on attempting to force the Indian security forces to evacuate J&K.
The author is former GOC of Srinagar based 15 Corps)