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December 26, 1999
Harkat ul Ansar desperate to release Maulana MasoodOur correspondent in Srinagar
It all began in 1992 when two organisations, the Harkat ul Mujahideen and the Harkat ul Jehadi Islami, surfaced in Doda district, in Jammu and Kashmir.
They carried out several attacks on Border Security Force and army personnel. They then turn their attention to the police stations where they looted lot of arms and ammunitions.
In an ambush late in 1992, they killed five BSF personnel and abducted another three. Later, the abducted men were also killed.
After their success in Doda they expanded their base to the adjoining Anantnag district of south Kashmir. In 1993, both these organisations merged and formed the Harkat ul Ansar. Sajad Afghani became the first chief of the Harkat ul Ansar, which carried out attacks all over Kashmir.
Maulana Masood Azhar, a Pakistani national, entered Kashmir in 1993, having entered the country through Dhaka, allegedly on a Portuguese passport, to join the Harkat ul Ansar. But he was arrested in a month's time along with Sajad Afghani.
In 1994, this organisation struck at Pahalgam and abducted two foreign tourists, David Macker, a television producer and Kim Housego, son of the then correspondent of the Financial Times David Housego. At that time the Harkat ul Ansar demanded the release of Maulana Masood Azhar and Sajad Aghani. However, the Indian government rejected the demands.
Under tremendous pressure from international organisations the Harkat released the two tourists unconditionally.
In July 1995, they struck again and their front organisation, the Al-Faran, abducted six foreign tourists and sought the release of their leaders.
The Indian government again rejected the demand. They killed a Norwegian tourist, another escaped from captivity and there is no trace of the other four till date. It is presumed they are dead.
In 1997, when the US declared the Harkat ul Ansar a terrorist outfit, its name was changed to the Harkat ul Mujahideen.
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