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Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF)

There are two distinct outfits, each of which identifies itself by the name Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF). Amanullah Khan heads the first while Yasin Malik, who parted ways with Amanullah Khan and formed another JKLF, heads the other. In May 1994, Yasin Malik who was released from jail (after his arrest in August 1990) declared that his faction would renounce violence as a tool to achieve the goal of 'independence'. In March 1996, the last surviving members of the Amanullah faction who were based in J&K under the leadership of Shabbir Siddiqui were killed in two encounters.

Both the Fronts trace their origin to the Jammu and Kashmir National Liberation Front (JKNLF). The JKNLF was an offshoot of the Plebiscite Front, a forum allegedly launched at the behest of the late Sheikh Abdullah, who was Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir and President of the National Conference.

The JKLF was set up in the United Kingdom, in 1977, by Amanullah Khan, after most of his JKNLF colleagues were either killed or captured by Indian security forces. The group is supported by expatriates that belong to Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK). Another JKLF, a splinter group headed by Yasin Malik, was founded in September 1995, after Malik split from Khan over differences on the strategy to be pursued to achieve perceived goals.

While both the JKLFs share a common goal, self-determination for the people of Jammu and Kashmir, the Yasin Malik faction has renounced the use of violence to attain this goal. It lays emphasis on adopting non-violent means and mobilising public opinion in India and Pakistan in favour of its objectives. It is a constituent of the All Party Huriyat Conference.

Amanullah Khan's JKLF promotes itself as an outfit conducting the struggle on three fronts -- political, diplomatic, and armed struggle against Indian security forces in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K).

In the 1970s and 1980s, the JKLF operated mostly from London and PoK. The activities were, in large measure, confined to propagating the cause of a plebiscite in J&K and mobilising international support for this objective. But the leadership did indulge in terrorist activities, primarily the hijacking of Indian Airlines aircraft. In February 1984, the JKLF kidnapped and killed the Indian Deputy High Commission in Birmingham.

The ISI had to depend upon the JKLF in the initial stages of the insurgency as it lacked its own network in J&K. Once the JKLF began bringing in people for training, the ISI gradually weaned away a considerable section of them from the JKLF. Using money and weapon supplies as baits, the ISI bought the loyalty of several militants. By 1991, with ISI's help the pro-Pakistan Hizb-ul-Mujahideen gained greater terror potential as compared to the JKLF. Moreover, the formation of Harkat-ul-Ansar, Lashkar-e-Toiba and numerous other smaller outfits contributed to the marginalisation of JKLF. Besides this, JKLF has been directly targeted by the ISI and the outfits that were controlled by it with armed attacks. For instance, the ISI attempted to forcibly shut down a JKLF training camp in Kotli district, PoK, on February 11 and 12, 1998. In another incident, Hizb militants killed two JKLF cadres on July 13, 1997, in Muzaffarabad, the capital of PoK.

Internal factors have contributed to the decline of the JKLF as a militant outfit. Yasin Malik, who was then heading the group in Jammu and Kashmir, left in 1995. His successor, Shabbir Siddiqui and 37 remaining members of the Amanullah Khan faction were killed in two incidents in Hazratbal, in March 1996. After this, the JKLF failed to resurrect itself as a terrorist outfit. Its presence is restricted to the participation of Yasin Malik's faction in the Huriyat.



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