Mushtaq Ahmed Bhat looks pretty relaxed as he walks in, one hand manacled to a thick chain. The other end of the chain is held by one of the posse of policemen who accompany him. It is his day to appear before one of the trial courts at Srinagar's city courts complex just off Lal Chowk.

Mushtaq-ul Islam, as Bhat likes to be called, has spent most of the past 10 years in custody and he looks pretty much at home in the court complex. He sits in the verandah outside the hall where high security prisoners are meant to wait for their cases to come up.

In front of the open verandah is a small yard, surrounded by high, red-painted walls. There is only one small door at one corner.

Mushtaq's mother, ageing and diminutive but still sprightly, is already there with food and a large plastic bottle full of lassi, which she vigorously offers to the policemen accompanying her son.

They look embarrassed. She has spread a blanket on the dirty floor. Mushtaq takes off his worn sandals and sits on them, looking like a confident chief arriving for a meeting. He looks neat, though his brownish curly hair make his beard look somewhat larger than it is.

I sit on the same cloth for the interview he has agreed to give me. Indeed, his brother had brought a message a few days earlier that Mushtaq wanted to talk to me again. A large number of policemen watch interestedly, particularly when we talk of the beginnings of Kashmir's insurgency.

In the global circumstances, though, I am more interested in his ideology. Mushtaq, you see, may be only in his mid-30s but was a pan-Islamic demagogue in the 1980s.

He first burst into the limelight when he ran onto the field during the lunch break on the first day of an India-West Indies cricket match in 1983 and dug up the pitch. He was nicknamed Guga as a child and, during the formative years of the insurgency, was called Guga-djinn or Guga sahib, depending on whether one liked him or not.

Mushtaq went on to become the chief commander of Hizbullah, one of the smaller Kashmiri militant outfits, but the largest among the few that subscribed zealously to a pan-Islamic ideology.

As then, he believes now that the entire Islamic umma or community should be under the religious and political control of a single authority. Iran's 1979 revolution helped to spark the sentiment in the boy and, unlike many of those who shared the view in the 1980s, he continued to hold to the principle.

Mushtaq looks clear-eyed and at peace as he recounts the beginnings of the movement in Kashmir. He says that unlike groups that sought independence and those who were committed simply to the state's accession to Pakistan, he believed in accession to Pakistan only as a first step towards the establishment of his dream. He still does not believe that Pakistan is truly Islamic, he adds.

Among other Kashmiri groups that shared this ideology were Jamiat-ul Mujahideen, the largely Shia Hizb-ul Momineen and Pasdar-i-Inquilabi-Islamia.

Jamiat's founder, Nasir-ul Islam, was a fierce zealot even in the late 1980s – habitually dressed in short pyjamas and a skull cap – but was later killed in an encounter. Pasdar was headed by Dr Inayatullah Indrabi, who apparently now lives in London.

The Jamaat-e-Islami, which adopted the leading militant group Hizb-ul Mujahideen and thus became a dominant force in 1992-93, is relatively reserved. Indeed, GM Bhat, Kashmir's Amir-e-Jamaat, disavows militancy altogether, cleverly taking the line that the Hizb may have claimed that the Jamaat was its patron but the Jamaat never once declared that the Hizb was its armed wing.

The Jamaat's nominee in the Hurriyat Conference, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, is more forthright than Bhat. He acknowledges that the Jamaat adopted the Hizb. Plus, he holds firmly that Islam must control every aspect of a believer's life, including the political.

Geelani states, however, that he has always believed that, when the subcontinent was partitioned, Kashmir should have become part of Pakistan.

Mushtaq, on the other hand, seems to believe that the time is fast approaching when his dream will come true, manacles notwithstanding.