Media reports on split in Hizb denied

ISLAMABAD May 9 . In the midst of reports of revolt by expelled commanders of the Hizb-ul- Mujahideen the organisation today dubbed news in the media about divisions in its ranks as `baseless propaganda' by the Indian intelligence agencies.

The Hizb, considered to be the largest militant outfit dominated by indigenous fighters operating in Kashmir, has expelled in the last three days five senior leaders for alleged acts of indiscipline.

While three commanders including Majid Dar, the commander who was considered to be the author of the short-lived ceasefire of July 2000, were removed from the organisation three days ago, two more senior members of the outfit were shown the door today.

The Pak-occupied Kashmir (PoK)based command council expelled Abu Ubaid and Asgar Ibne Rehman, self-styled divisional commander of North Kashmir and Kupwara respectively from the primary membership of the outfit for opposing the expulsion of former chief commander, operations, Abdul Majid Dar and two other divisional commanders.

The Hizb spokesman, Saleem Hashmi, said in a statement from Muzaffarabad, the capital of PoK, that they were being expelled for "gross indiscipline and anti-party activities''. He said Gazi Naseeb-ud-Din and Rafi-ul-Islam have been appointed "divisional commander" of North Kashmir and Kupwara "district commander", respectively, in place of Ubaid and Rehman.

There have been speculations of rift between the Hizb chief, Syed Salahuddin and Mr. Dar ever since the aborted ceasefire of July 2000. While Mr. Dar made the unilateral ceasefire announcement, valid for three months, from Srinagar on July 24, Salahuddin terminated it at a news conference in Islamabad exactly two weeks later.

Mr. Salahuddin had said that without the involvement of Pakistan as a third party for negotiations on settlement of the Kashmir dispute, there could be no meaningful dialogue. He had accused New Delhi of being dishonest.

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