SRINAGAR, MAY 14: Muzaffarabad-based Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin is likely to step down to pave the way for others to take over reins of one of the largest militant organisations in the Kashmir valley.

The development comes even as intelligence inputs suggest there is pressure on Salahuddin from Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad to step down as Hizb chief.

One of his sons in Kashmir, Shahid Yousuf, has also been arrested by the National Investigation Agency in connection with its “terror funding” probe.

Sources said “soon you will see Salahuddin leaving the armed front. He will no longer be associated with it”.

They said one of the primary reasons was the recent US announcement declaring him as a “global terrorist”.

Though they did not clarify if Salahuddin would also step down as United Jihad Council (UJC) chief, they said he could be “offered some political role”.

Salahuddin is the UJC head by virtue of his being the Hizb chief. So, it is clear that he cannot continue heading the UJC if he steps down as Hizb chief.

Since its founding, Hizb has focused its operations in J&K, targeting security agencies. Over the past two years, the militant group has suffered huge losses, losing its top commanders, including Burhan Wani, Sabzar Bhat, Sajad Gilkar, Abdul Qayoom Najar and Yasin Yatoo, in operations by security forces.

Since April, it has also lost a number of cadres, particularly in south Kashmir, where 11 militants were gunned down in a single day. On May 5, its four commanders and an assistant professor were killed. (Tribune)

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