Source: Daily Excelsior, Jammu (India): Kashmir’s first militant makes sensational revelations, We got weapons at Sheikh Rashid’s ‘Safe House’: Waza, by Ahmed Ali Fayyaz. SRINAGAR,

June 26, 2005 – Jammu and Kashmir’s first militant and JKLF commander, Abdul Ahad Waza, today revealed that the Pakistani Information Minister Sheikh Rashid’s Rawalpindi mansion was not only used as a guesthouse for Kashmiri recruits but also as an arms storage for the trainee guerrillas in 1987-92 period. He said that Sheikh’s farmhouse at Fateh Jung, known as “Safe House”, functioned as a transit camp for JKLF militants organised by Amanullah Khan and the same was guarded by “men of Pakistani Army in civvies”.

Abdul Ahad Waza of Lidarwan, Kupwara, who was a functionary of Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s faction of the Hurriyat Conference until recently, revealed in an exclusive interview to the Excelsior that he stayed at Sheikh Rashid’s “Safe House” in Rawalpindi outskirts several times in 1988. He said that days after then Pakistani President and Army Chief, Gen Zia-ul-Haq, and JKLF chairman, Amanullah Khan, decided to organise armed insurgency in Jammu & Kashmir, he was contacted through Nazim-ud-din alias Babar of Bhugna, Keran, and invited to Islamabad.. In May 1987, Waza crossed the LoC through Dumari Galli of Keran, alongwith JKLF leader Maqbool Bhat’s brother, Ghulam Nabi Bhat.

After staying at Athmuqam in Neelam valley, Waza, Bhat and their guide Nazim-ud-din reached Muzaffarabad and they stayed at JKLF general secretary Raja Muzaffar’s house. Waza said that Nazim-ud-din’s family had been wiped out by the Indian Army in the Indo-Pakistan war of 1965 and he helped the JKLF recruits out of vengeance.

“Our meeting was organised with JKLF leader Raja Muzaffar and ISI’s Col Assad, who eventually arranged our meeting with Gen Zia-ul-Haq at the President’s House in Islamabad. We stayed at JKLF leader Dr Farooq Hyder’s house who sent us to Gen Zia. Col Assad, Bhat Sahib and myself had a long meeting with Gen Zia. We signed a Memorandum of Understanding. Gen Zia wanted the Kashmiris to get up in arms against the Indian rule. He told us that he had helped the Afghans and he would provide every kind of help to the oppressed Kashmiris”, said Waza. He said that then PoK ruler and Muslim Conference chief Sardar Abdul Qayoom Khan made an attempt to meet the JKLF duo but Gen Zia’s “Kashmir Committee” didn’t let it happen.

Guide Nazim-ud-din led Waza and Bhat back to Kupwara. “Thereafter, I and Bhat Sahib began motivating the youth for joining an armed struggle against the Indian rule. We sent the first group of recruits in November 1987. Hilal Ahmed Beg, Abdul Hameed Sheikh, Nasir Bakhtyar and two more were in this 5-member group.”

Waza said that Aijaz Ahmed Dar, who got killed in an armed strike of the JKLF militants at then Kashmir DIG Ali Mohammad Wattali’s Rajbagh house in August 1989, was in the third group of recruits sent by him to Pakistan for arms training. Mohammad Ashraf Dar and Maqbool Illahi, who later shot into prominence as Hizbul Mujahideen commanders, besides Abdul Waheed and Humayun Azad, were other members of this group.

The fourth group of the JKLF recruits, launched by Waza and Bhat on June 6th, 1988, for crossing the LoC, comprised student Ashfaq Majeed Wani, Islamic Students League activist Mohammad Yasin Malik, plumber Javed Ahmed Mir, bank official Riyaz Ahmed and another student Manzoor-ul-Islam, who later settled in Bangkok. Waza said that JKLF’s maiden armed strike came on July 31, 1988, when its militants conducted a grenade attack on Central Telegraph Office (CTO) in Srinagar.

“On the same day, I managed to establish contact with Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar through a Peoples League leader Mehmood Ahmed Sagar. In our sixth group of recruits, we went Mushtaq Zargar, Irfanul Hassan, Riyaz Ahmed Lone, Abdur Rasheed Lone and Commander Ibrahim to Pakistan”, Waza said.

Waza revealed that all the JKLF trainees were lodged at Sheikh Rashid’s “Safe House”, trained at a Kachgari, given guns and grenades, accommodated back on “Safe House” and sent back to the Valley after taking brief courses of arms training. He said that when he went to Pakistan second time in 1988, he was lodged at the same house alongwith other members of the group who included Jamal-ud-din Afghani and Aziz-ur-Rehman. Afghani and Rehman became the chief commanders of Al-Jehad and Jehad Force in 1992 and were both killed by security forces. “Same armed men in civvies, who lodged us at Safe House, gave us arms training. It was a seven-hour Toyota drive from Safe House to the training camp. On return, after 10-15 days of training, they used to lodge us at Safe House, clicked our photographs and sent us back to the Valley”, Waza explained.

In October 1989, Waza was arrested when he was crossing a bridge in Sopore town. A few days later, then Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah revealed at a public meeting in Kupwara that Pakistan had sent a militant, namely Abdul Ahad Waza, for his assassination. Waza was released on bail in 1992. Thereafter, he joined Abdul Gani Lone’s Peoples Conference (PC). He was arrested and released a number of times in the last 13 years of his political struggle. Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Prof Abdul Gani Bhat, Maulvi Abbas Ansari, Yasin Malik, Javed Mir and Ashraf Sehrai were in different Indian jails with Waza in 1998.

After Abdul Gani Lone’s assassination in May 2002, Waza joined the PC’s breakaway faction led by Dr Ghulam Mohammad Hubbi. For the last two years, Hubbi’s faction of the PC has been a constituent of Geelani’s faction of Hurriyat Conference. In the wake of recent differences with Hubbi, Waza has shifted to Ghulam Ahmed Gulzar’s faction of the PC and he is now functioning as its acting chairman.

Asked for his reaction to Farooq Abdullah’s 1989 allegation, Waza claimed it was he who protected a number of the National Conference leaders and their relatives. He claimed that he rescued Sharief-ud-din Shariq from the clutches of “Allah Tigers”. He claimed that he also rescued and owned the former NC Minister Mohammad Shafi Uri’s son, Dr Sajjad, as a JKLF activist when Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen had once kidnapped him. “Later, I called Dr Farooq Abdullah from SMHS Hospital, when I was under treatment during detention, and convinced him that his apprehensions were not correct. He agreed”, added Waza.

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