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Current Affairs ( 2 Jan 2011, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Separatists got Kashmiri leaders shot

By Naseer Ganai

Hurriyat leader clears security forces in Mirwaiz Sr &Lone killings &says...

FOR THE first time in the 20- year- long period of insurgency in Kashmir, a votary of the secessionist movement has made a brutally frank confession about the killing of some prominent men of his own ilk.

Prof. Abdul Gani Bhat, a leader of the Hurriyat Conference’s moderate faction, categorically said on Sunday that the security forces had played no role in the killings of separatist leaders Mirwaiz Maulvi Muhammad Farooq and Abdul Gani Lone as well as Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front ( JKLF) ideologue Prof. Abdul Ahad Wani.

Instead, he pointed an accusing finger towards an insider hand. “ Lone sahib, Mirwaiz Farooq and Prof. Wani were not killed by the army or the police. They were targeted by our own people. The story is a long one, but we have to tell the truth,” he said candidly. Bhat, however, did not elaborate on what had transpired when the murders took place. He also did not mention the name of any terrorist group which killed them.

The separatist leader made these comments while addressing a seminar on ‘ Role of intellectuals in the Kashmir movement’. The day-long meet was organised at a local hotel by JKLF chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik to commemorate Wani’s death anniversary. The three leaders were slain in separate incidents, and on each occasion, the locals as well as secessionists had claimed that the security forces had taken them out.

On May 21, 1990, unidentified gunmen barged into the downtown Srinagar residence of Mirwaiz Maulvi Farooq — the father of Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq — and assassinated him. Later, scores of people were killed when CRPF personnel fired upon his funeral procession near Islamia College in Srinagar.

Human rights groups claim that around 60 people were killed in the firing and hundreds of others sustained injuries. The separatists were quick to accuse the security forces of having carried out the murderous attack on the Mirwaiz. The firing on the mourners reinforced the ordinary Kashmiri’s suspicions.

However, a TADA court jailed former militant Muhammad Ayub Dar last year for the killing. The CBI charge sheet said Dar, along with two other terrorists, shot the Mirwaiz. Its charge sheet named five Hizbul commanders also.

Wani was killed on December 31, 1993, by unknown gunmen. He was a professor of law in Kashmir University and an advocate of the JKLF’s views. The academic was in the vicinity of the Hazratbal shrine en route to the university when he was shot.

Moderate Hurriyat Conference leader Lone, the father of Sajjad (the first separatist leader to stand in a general election) and Bilal, was killed on May 21 in 2002. He was gunned down by unidentified assailants at a rally to mark the death anniversary of Mirwaiz Maulvi Farooq at Eidgah ground in old Srinagar city.

The leader was fired upon seconds before the ceremony was to end. Bhat, then the Hurriyat Conference chairman, was also present at the rally. No charge sheet was filed either in the case of Wani’s or Lone’s killings.

Speaking at the meet on Sunday, Bhat, a professor of Persian at Sopore Degree College, said: “ If you want to free the people of Kashmir from sentimentalism bordering on insanity, you have to speak the truth. Former Prime Minister of Pakistan Zulfikar Ali Bhutto once said that sometimes truth escapes the mouth. Here I am letting it out.” He said the present movement against India was started by “ us killing our intellectuals”. Bhat added: “ Wherever we found an intellectual, we ended up killing him. Let us ask ourselves: was Prof Wani a martyr of brilliance or a martyr of rivalry?” Taking potshots at the hardline Hurriyat faction led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, he said: “ On the one hand, he ( Geelani) refuses to talk to India and, on the other hand, he talks with the Indian parliamentarians. These contradictions will have to go.” Slamming the rival group for adopting double standards, he said: “ When we entered into talks with New Delhi, we were accused of being kafir ( non- Muslim), and when you ( the hardliners) talk you get away scot- free. This dichotomy in Kashmir politics should end.”

Bhat refused to be a part of any unity process between the separatist groups initiated by Umar Farooq. He said he would not be associated with any such move that would mean the “ hegemony or aggrandisement of any person”, making an oblique reference to Geelani.

Significantly, he was the chairman of the Hurriyat Conference when it was split into the hardline and moderate factions.

He said in the five months during which a strike was observed this summer, the Kashmiris did not achieve anything. He added that the local intellectuals refrained from writing on the issue.

Bhat, who has travelled to Pakistan many times during the past two decades, said the neighbouring country would not fight a war over Kashmir with India. “ It is unlikely as both the nations understand its consequences.” He also ruled out an armed movement against India in Kashmir, saying: “ It will not have support from any quarter.” “ What next? We should do the talking,” he said.

Spelling out the benefits of holding a dialogue, he said negotiation was an art and the right way to move forward.

Umar Farooq, who spoke after Bhat, however, did not even broach the issue.

Earlier, Malik, in his address, said Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah was the tallest leader Kashmir produced in the past 63 years. But he said the Kashmir conflict dwarfed even the Sheikh.

“This holds true for all of us.

Not one among the present crop of leaders should think that we are above Kashmir,” he said.

Malik felt that in the past six decades, the Kashmiris had gained nothing.

“We have given sacrifices and gone through bitter experiences.

But there has been no achievement,” he said. 

ISI feared leaders wanted deal with Delhi

By Manoj Joshi

THE TRUTH, they say, will out.

Sometimes it takes time. The admission by Professor Abdul Gani Bhat, a key member of the original Hurriyat, that the gunmen who had assassinated top leaders such as Mirwaiz Muhammad Farooq, People’s Conference and Hurriyat leader Abdul Ghani Lone and Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front ( JKLF) ideologue Abdul Ahad Wani, had been killed “ by our own people” and not the Indian security forces is part of the painful process through which Kashmiri separatist leaders are coming to terms with the turbulent history of their own movement.

He did not say it, but the subtext of his statement was clear.

All these leaders had sought to move on a course that was different from the one that was being set by the puppet masters in Islamabad, who thought they were running the Kashmir movement.

There has never been much doubt in the minds of the Indian security establishment that they had been assassinated on the orders of the Inter- Services Intelligence Directorate of the Pakistan Army, notoriously known as the ISI. It is significant that Professor Bhat made his remarks at a JKLF- organised seminar.

Notwithstanding its initial role in triggering the Kashmiri militancy, the JKLF represented the secular edge of the separatist aspirations of the Valley Kashmiris.

Not only was it targeted by the Indian security forces, it was also hounded by the ISI. There are good reasons to believe that many JKLF leaders were betrayed to the Indian security forces by the ISI and in Pakistan. Leaders such as Amanullah Khan and Javed Ahmed Mir recorded the illtreatment they suffered on account of their insistence that they were for an independent Kashmir, rather than one which merged with Pakistan.

The reason why each of these figures were assassinated was that the ISI feared that they would strike a deal with New Delhi. This has been a pattern that has not altered.

Even people like the current Mirwaiz, Umar Farooq, who knows that the ISI was involved in his father’s killing, exercise abundant caution in keeping their bridges with Islamabad open.

In fact, between 2004 and 2007, when India and Pakistan were close to settling the Kashmir issue, the Mirwaiz developed a close relationship with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf. Indeed, so cruel are the compulsions that Abdul Ghani Lone’s funeral procession was accompanied with pro- Pakistan slogans.

The ability of the ISI to eliminate separatist leaders remains unchecked.

Though Indian security forces guard even people such as Syed Ali Shah Geelani, an assassination can be arranged almost at will. Lone, for example, was gunned down at a memorial function for Mirwaiz Muhammad Farooq when the police believed that no one would be heartless enough to strike.

K ASHMIR’S tragedy is not that Pakistan alone is responsible for all the assassinations. The many groups there have been involved in killing each other — Qazi Nisar, the Mirwaiz of South Kashmir was killed by the Hizbul Mujahideen in 1994.

They may have also been responsible for the killing of Dr Abdul Ahad Guru in 1992.

Dr Guru was a leading physician in Srinagar and a JKLF leader, who was talking to Indian officials and ministers like Rajesh Pilot at the time of his assassination.

No doubt, the Indian security establishment has also used the instrument of assassination in the Valley.

In the main, they have used the instrumentality of former militants, or Ikhwanis . In great measure such killings belong to the past. In recent years there have been no significant assassination of a topranking leader.

Nevertheless, there should not be any doubt that all sides retain the capacity of eliminating anyone they choose to target.

Source: Mail Today