Turkey-based former Kashmiri journalist Mukhtar Baba, the alleged mastermind behind threats to journalists in the Valley, has openly admitted to having submitted a proposal to Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Cell (JKLC) for furthering Pakistan’s secessionist agenda in Indian Kashmir.
During a Twitter Spaces discussion, Baba purportedly said he handed over a detailed plan to the secretary of the Pakistan government’s J&K Liberation Cell during a visit to the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir for fomenting unrest and promoting anti-India & successionist activities in the Valley.
As per the assessment of Central intelligence agencies, Baba visits Pakistan frequently through Turkey and is behind propagating a false narrative, grooming youngsters in Kashmir for terrorism under the banner of The Resistance Front (TRF), an offshoot of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT).
“I went there (Pakistan) on a 2.5-month-long visit. I told people there that I won’t sit idle and wanted to tour Pakistan to deliver the message from Kashmir. Since the budget for touring the entire Pakistan was high, I decided to move to Azad Kashmir (Pakistan-occupied Kashmir),” Baba said during the discussions.
Baba, who ran a public relations agency before moving out, said that he felt that there was a lack of commitment in Pakistan to the Kashmir cause. “They take things very easy.”
Giving details of his PoK visit, Baba further said: “We have the liberation cell there. I submitted a new proposal to them with a detailed plan, including holding public meetings (in Kashmir). Discussions and deliberations happened. But nothing happened after that.”
“I called the secretary of the liberation cell several times after that. He got so irritated that he now puts his phone on silent mode whenever I call him,” he went on.
JKLC was created by the PoK government in 1987 to “highlight the just struggle of freedom-seeking Kashmiris in India-occupied Kashmir at national and international levels through different means” with the prime minister as its chairman, according to The Dawn newspaper. Until 2001, the institution had academics, and retired civil and military officers as its head. However, the government started posting Pakistani civil servants as its secretary after the promulgation of an ordinance in 2009.
Expressing disappointment at what he called the lack of support from the Pakistani establishment for jihadists in Kashmir, Baba said the Kashmir Solidarity Day announced by Islamabad on February 5 is nothing but “symbolic”.
Security agencies swung into action after online threats were given to more than 20 prominent journalists based in Kashmir, triggering fears and resignation. Several raids were conducted across Jammu and Kashmir.
Baba, originally a resident of Srinagar, shifted to Nowgam in Anantnag before escaping to Ankara, the capital city of Turkey. He has built a network of informers within journalists and prepared his hit list based on their inputs.
“He remained affiliated with terror outfit Hizbullah in the 1990s and was shunted out from the outfit after he was found involved in selling 40 AK series rifles belonging to another terrorist organisation,” a dossier about Baba read.
“Thereafter, he was associated with Masrat Alam-led Muslim League and is notorious for his coercive means to compel journalists and media outlets in the Valley to toe Pakistani and terrorist lines in reporting and opinions,” it read further.
Sources stated that he has always been close to Pakistani agencies while actively working with several secessionist outfits in Srinagar. Baba has also been active on social media, making all-out efforts to push the narrative at the behest of hostile foreign agencies.
The 55-year-old man had worked as a journalist with four Kashmir-based organisations earlier and is very familiar with the media environment in Kashmir. He was lodged in Jammu’s Kot Bhalwal Jail for quite some time in 1990.
As per reports, Baba was placed in Turkey sometime in 2018 by Jodha Carin Fischer, an American national of German origin who operated in Jammu and Kashmir as a deep penetration ISI agent for almost eight years before her cover was blown and she was forcibly deported out.