Eight days after separatist leader Abdul Gani Bhat told a seminar in Srinagar that People’s Conference leader Abdul Ghani Lone and Mirwaiz Maulana Mohammad Farooq had been “killed by our own people”, Lone’s sons Bilal and Sajad have dropped broad hints about who those “people” might be.
Sajad, one of the better-known faces among Kashmiri separatists, who unsuccessfully contested the assembly polls in 2008, broke his silence for the first time, telling Hindustan Times: “I gave enough indications (about the killer) but stopped short of saying it openly. My problem is with the white-collar men who order killings. If they are not stopped, there will be more such killings.”
Elder brother, Bilal, who was present by Bhat’s side when he made the startling revelation, added: “I second whatever Prof Bhat has said. I should have spoken the truth and pointed towards the rogue elements within our fold.”
Before his death on May 21, 2002, Lone senior had a tiff with hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani. While Lone pushed for the ouster of foreign militants from the Valley, Geelani had always welcomed them.
Sajad had accused Geelani and Pakistani spy agency ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) of being responsible for his father’s death when the hardline leader visited the Lone residence to offer his condolences. But he pulled back next day, reportedly at the prodding of his mother, blaming the then chief minister Farooq Abdullah, instead, for not providing adequate security to his father.
For this and several public spats later with Geelani, Sajad said he had never been really welcomed into the separatist fold. “There can be no holy cows,” he added.
Now, the Lone brothers, who had drifted apart after their father’s death but have come closer again, feel that “though it may be difficult to pinpoint an individual, talking about the truth helps you reconcile with your grief”.
“I don’t want to comment at this point,” was all the present Mirwaiz, moderate leader Umar Farooq, was prepared to