Separatists killed by “our own people”: Ex-Hurriyat chief

Last Updated: Tuesday, January 4, 2011 - 00:08

Srinagar: A senior Hurriyat leader has
created a flutter by saying that two separatist leaders and
his brother were killed by "our own people" and not security
agencies, prompting J&K government to term it as a "late
admission" and a call for a probe to fix responsibility.

"No police was involved (in the killings).... It was
our own people who killed them," former Hurriyat Conference
Chairman Abdul Gani Bhat said.

He said time had come to speak the truth about the
killers of Mirwaiz Muhammad Farooq and Abdul Gani Lone, who
were shot dead in 2002, and his own brother Mohammad Sultan
Bhat, who was murdered in 1995.

Asked to identify the killers, Bhat said, "What is the
need to identify them.... they are already identified."

Farooq, father of the present chairman of moderate
faction of Hurriyat Conference Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, was shot
dead at his residence on May 21, 1990 while Lone, father of
Hurriyat executive member Bilal Lone, was gunned down during a
commemorative rally for the senior Mirwaiz on the same day in
2002.

The separatist leaders had earlier blamed the security
forces for the killings.

Bhat said that his brother Mohammad Sultan Bhat also
fell to the bullets of those espousing the separatist cause.

"I had said this then and I am saying it now. There
is no ambiguity or confusion in my mind," he said.

Other moderate Hurriyat leaders chose to maintain a
studied silence on Bhat`s remarks.

The state government has held that then Hizbul
Mujahideen commander Mohammad Abdullah Bangroo had killed
Mirwaiz Mohammad Farooq while a commander of Al-Umar
Mujahideen had shot dead senior Lone.

Hizbul Mujahideen is considered to be ideologically
inclined towards hardline Hurriyat faction leader Syed Ali
Shah Geelani while Al Umar is believed to be the militant-wing
of Awami Action Committee headed by the Mirwaiz.

Geelani refused to comment on the statements made by
the former Chairman of the undivided Hurriyat Conference.

"I have nothing to say about their remarks," Geelani said to a news agency.

CPI(M) state secretary M Y Tarigami said Bhat`s
statement was "revealing" and the incidents need credible
investigation.

"A credible investigation should be carried out so
that responsibility for the killings is fixed," Tarigami said.

Sajjad Gani Lone, the youngest son of the slain
leader, had blamed Geelani for the killing but retracted his
statement few years later.

Jammu and Kashmir`s Director General of Police Kuldeep
Khoda said that "the person involved in the killing of Mirwaiz
Farooq is also buried in the same `martyrs` graveyard` where
the senior Mirwaiz was laid to rest".

"So this explains a lot. The killer and the killed are
both declared as martyrs by them," Khoda said.

A senior Hurriyat leader, who did not wish to be
named, said there was nothing new in Bhat`s remarks.

"Bhat has made the same speech in `Azad Jammu and
Kashmir` (Pakistan-occupied Kashmir) Assembly five years ago,"
the leader said.

Bilal Lone and the Mirwaiz chose not to react to the
statement.

Sources in the Hurriyat said that the leaders of the
amalgam will maintain a "meaningful" silence over the remarks.

The moderate faction of the Hurriyat is unhappy with
the way Geelani had handled the recent summer unrest in the
Valley as many of them questioned the tactics of strikes and
stone-pelting during a seminar yesterday.

State Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ali
Mohammad Sagar described the admission by separatists as a
"good development".

"It has taken them very long to admit the reality but
it is better late than never," Sagar said.

He said the separatist leaders have to be "realistic"
if they are serious about resolution of the Kashmir issue and
should stop treating the mainstream parties as "untouchables".

"We have to sit together if Kashmir issue has to be
resolved permanently. The separatists should support and
strengthen the efforts of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah in this
direction," he said.

In response to a question about unity efforts among
the separatists, Bhat said it was "irrelevant" at the moment
and that he would take a decision about it in his individual
capacity if such a development takes place.

"I have never been part of and never will be part of
any meaningless exercise. Why are you flogging us with the
unity lash," the Hurriyat leader said.

Hurriyat Conference suffered a vertical split in
September 2003 after Geelani accused Bhat and other moderate
leaders of not running an effective anti-election campaign in
2002 assembly polls when he was in jail.

Geelani also accused People`s Conference headed by
Bilal and Sajjad Lone of participating in the assembly
elections through proxy candidates.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, January 4, 2011 - 00:08

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