Grand old man of Kashmiri independence passes away

Grand old man of Kashmiri independence passes away

Srinagar: One of the staunchest supporters of Independent Kashmir and a founding member of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), Amanullah Khan, passed away in Pakistan on Tuesday.
The 82-year-old leader died at a hospital in Rawalpindi after suffering from pneumonia. He is survived by a daughter who got married to minister of social welfare Sajad Gani Lone.
Khan’s body will be flown to his native place, Gilgit, on Wednesday after funeral prayers at the garrison city’s Liyaqat Bagh at 11am.
Prayers in absentia will be offered at Lal Chowk here on Wednesday at 2pm.
Khan born in Astore area of Gilgit on August 24, 1934, crossed over to Kashmir where his relatives resided and got his education from SP College and Amar Singh College in Srinagar in the 1950s. He went back to Pakistan and graduated from a law college there.

Khan was so committed to the cause of Independent Kashmir that he would ensure JKLF recruits took their oath by making impressions with thumbs dipped in blood
—Javed Mir, JKLF leader

His journey with JKLF began in the 1960s when he, along with Maqbool Bhat and a few other persons, turned JK Plebiscite Front into JK National Liberation Front.
Later, the word ‘National’ was omitted and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front came into being. From that time till his last breath, he was a proponent of Independent Kashmir.
A Srinagar-based JKLF spokesman said Khan launched a monthly magazine ‘Voice of Kashmir’ in 1962, reflecting his ideology of independent Kashmir. However, the Pakistan government forced him into winding it up before launching it again in England in 1976.
He is considered as a pioneer of armed militancy in Kashmir and launched the famous HAJY group, an acronym for four militants: Hamid Sheikh, Ashfaq Majeed, Javaid Mir and Yasin Malik.
Mir, then chief commander of the JKLF, which renounced arms in 1995, told Kashmir Reader that he along with three other members of HAJY group met Khan at his residence in Azad Kashmir.
Mir explained that Khan was so committed to the cause of Independent Kashmir that he would make JKLF recruits make impressions with thumbs dipped in blood.
“He (Khan) administered oath to us in his office by placing Quran on our heads. My thumb impressions were taken five times when I crossed over to the other side of border for independent Kashmir,” said Mir.
In 1992, Mir recalled that he and Khan were called by Pakistan army General Mirza Aslam Beg to the army headquarters in Rawalpindi.
“The General wanted Khan to give up Independent Kashmir slogan. But he refused to relent and told him that it should be left to the people to decide,” he added.
Khan was against electoral politics in both parts of the Kashmir but as a Srinagar-based journalist, who met Khan in Pakistan a few years ago, told him he was wrongly being projected as anti-Pakistan.
“He loved Pakistan and was always committed to the armed militancy. He was against JKLF’s surrender in 1995,” he said.
Although he supported armed resistance, Khan never picked up arms himself.
The unilateral ceasefire by the JKLF led to differences, leading to a spilt in the amalgam.
As chairman JKLF Yasin Malik, whose amalgam re-united with Khan’s in 2011, described Khan as a leader who was fighting on three fronts—political, diplomatic and freedom struggle.
“He was a master on all the three fronts. He was a leader whose passing away will create a vacuum. There was no contradiction in his political beliefs,” Malik said.
He credited him for bringing Kashmir issue to the international attention after Shimla agreement (1972) and Indira-Abdullah accord (1975).
“He raised the issue in London after these agreements. He never lost hope” he added.
Malik said Khan donated his properties, including his home, to the cause.
“In his last years he set up three JKLF offices in England and offices in countries like Saudi Arabia,” Malik added.
Political analyst and a law professor at central university Kashmir Dr Sheikh Showkat Hussain said, “Khan was seeking independence of the undivided Jammu and Kashmir that existed in 1947. He stood for us paar bhi lenge is paar bhi lenge azadi. He was a supporter of armed resistance and would often write pamphlets,” he said.

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