India-Pakistan Current Affairs

Home Ministry forms study group to examine problems people residing in border areas

The Union Home Ministry has formed study group to examine various problems faced by people residing near International Border (IB) and Line of Control (LOC) in Jammu and Kashmir in wake of regular ceasefire violations by Pakistan. It will be headed by Rina Mitra, Special Secretary in Home Ministry.

Composition of study group

Its members are principal secretary (Home) in J&K Government, divisional commissioner of Jammu and divisional commissioner of Srinagar. Joint secretary (J&K) in Home Ministry is member-secretary of group.

Terms of References

The group will meet people living in border areas of Jammu & Kashmir, district administration officials, security forces deployed there and local public representatives and submit its report within two months. It will prepare a detailed report of issues being faced by public living near IB and LOC and submit recommendations for remedial action to be taken to address these issues.

Background

India shares a 3,323 km long border with Pakistan of which 221 km is IB and 740 km is LOC in Jammu & Kashmir. In recent times, there has been sharp increase in ceasefire violations by Pakistan. Till August 2017 there were 285 violations by Pakistani forces while the number was 228 for entire 2016 year.

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US designates Hizbul Mujahideen as Foreign Terrorist Organisation

The United States has named Pakistan based Kashmiri terrorist outfit Hizbul Mujahideen as a “Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO)”. The designation slaps a series of US sanctions on the outfit.

With this, Hizb Mujahideen joins the other terrorist outfits Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) on the US list of FTO designated in 2001. Moreover, two other anti-India groups, al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (2016) and Indian Mujahideen (2011) are also in the list.

What does it means?

Such designations expose and isolate terrorist groups and individuals, and deny them access to the US financial system. It also assists the law enforcement activities of US agencies and other governments. It blocks all of Hizbul Mujahideen’s property and interests in property subject to US jurisdiction. It also prohibits US citizens from engaging in any transactions with the group. It purpose is to deny Hizbul Mujahideen the resources it needs to carry out terrorist attacks.

Background

The designation comes against the backdrop of upsurge in the terror activities of the militant group in Kashmir in recent months. Earlier in June 2017, US had adding the Hizbul Mujahideen’s Pakistan-based chief Syed Salahuddin to its list of designated global terrorists.

Comment

The US decision to designate Hizbul Mujahideen as FTO marks a severe blow to Pakistan which has been projecting the militant group as a voice of Kashmiri people. It also validates India’s position on cross-border terrorism as the reason behind the Kashmir issue and the support terrorist organisations getting from Pakistan. It will also help India to put the squeeze on Pakistan, whose top political and military leaders are portraying Hizb cadres as “freedom fighters” at a time of heightened terrorist activity in Kashmir.

About Hizbul Mujahideen

Hizbul Mujahideen (meaning “Party of Holy Warriors”) is one of the largest and oldest terrorist groups operating in Kashmir. It was started in 1989 by Muhammad Ahsan Dar as Kashmiri separatist group and holds pro-Pakistan ideology. Its current commander is a Sayeed Salahudeen who is based in Rawalpindi and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). It has been already designated a terrorist organisation by India and European Union.

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