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Lone's death cements hearts in Hurriyat

Lone's death cements hearts in Hurriyat

Author: Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
Publication: The Daily Excelsior
Date: May 23, 2002

Introduction: Grand funeral amid pro-Pakistan, pro-Taliban euphoria

The crisis managers in separatist All Parties Hurriyat Conference have once again shown tact and finesse in turning Kashmir's political tables in favour of Pakistan. While Mr Abdul Gani Lone's promoters in Indian media, bureaucracy and politics were enjoying replays of son Sajjad Lone's spitting on Pakistan's ISI, Hurriyat chairman Professor Abdul Gani Bhat today rejuvenated Srinagar's, if not Kashmir's, pro-Pakistan euphoria. In the morning Sajjad dismissed his own remarks as "an emotional outburst". In the evening, Lone was laid to rest at the 'Martyrs Graveyard' amid thunderous slogans like: Jeevay Jeevay Pakistan, Pakistan se rishta kya la illa ha illala, Bharat ke aiwanoon ko aag lagado, Al-Qaeda zindabad, Taliban zindabad....

The only consolation for New Delhi's think-tanks and 'Kashmir experts' was the fact that, at Lone's Rawalpora residence, there were only the navy blue Peoples Conference flags. Even after Sajjad's we-don't-know-who-is-the-killer statement, there were no pro-Pakistan slogans at Rawalpora. Daughter Shabnam, who yelled stoically to Lone's mourners, had the whole of her stress on Jeevay Jeevay Lone Jeevay. And the multitude of mourners from Handwara shouted repeatedly at the charismatic leader's coffin: Lone hamara shera hai, Baqee hera phera hai.

Eversince, Sajjad appeared on an Indian television news channel-blaming Pakistan's ISI and Hurriyat hard-liners for his father's assassination-there was perceptible enthusiasm in Srinagar-Delhi axis of bureaucracy and media. Over-enthusiasts, whose activism has already botched up the plans of a senior militant leader in the direction of peace, began to celebrate "yet another split in Hurriyat". And, when the news came that Syed Ali Shah Geelani had been publicly humiliated at Lone's residence, OB vans of news channels made a beeline to Rawalpora.

Before those, who have been extolling late Mr Lone as "Hurriyat's moderate voice", would launch the exercise of claiming credit, Sajjad had backtracked. He withdrew his anti-ISI "outburst", the way his own father had withdrawn his anti-Jehadi remarks made on Pakistani soil in November, 2000. Or, the way, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq rolled back his "virtual thieves" expression, made in TIME magazine last month.

For half of the day, there was another streak of differences between Lone's family members and the Hurriyat leaders over the venue of the tombstone. Some went to the extent of saying that late Mr Lone had left a will with the elder son Bilal that he be laid to rest in his ancestral graveyard in the distant Loneharay village in Kupwara district. The thick army of mediapersons from New Delhi began to speculate that it would be to facilitate the Prime Minister's participation in the funeral. More reassuring was the presence of Dr Farooq Abdullah's Ministers-Abdur Rahim Rather, Mohammad Shafi Uri, Abdul Qayoom and Mushtaq Ahmed Lone-at the Rawalpora house.

It was certainly unique that, for the first time since 1990, the Hurriyat and the common people in Valley did not blame India for a political killing in the State. Everybody seems convinced that India would have loved to kill anybody but Lone. Even the Hurriyat leaders themselves decided not to be categorical. Cursing Farooq Abdullah for the killing was with the footnote that he had not provided adequate security cover to Mr Lone.

Inspite of that all, it was Hurriyat's will that prevailed. After hectic negotiations, it was decided that the burial would take place nowhere other than the Mazaar-e-Shuhada (Martyrs Graveyard). Within minutes, the dead body was in the direction of Eidgah-where the gunmen had struck on Mr Lone last evening- in a long motorcade. Suddenly, Jeevay Jeevay Lone was completely lost in the din of Jeevay Jeevay Pakistan.

At the Eidgah grounds, where over 12,000 people converged to participate in the funeral, a group of 300-something youth continued the chanting in favour of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Taliban and even the defunct Taliban. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Shabir Shah, who are being dignified in New Delhi as "other voices of sanity and moderation" did not stop at looking helplessly. They shouted their own quota of "we want freedom" but, to Syed Ali Shah Geelani's utter jubilation, the air rented with Pakistan se rishta kya, la illaha illala.

Chairman Professor Gani found it most opportune to assail the "Indian media": "Who are they befooling with their canard?. They liars spread lies to break the Hurriyat. But, that only unites and cements us all. Hurriyat is united and shall continue to be so. They have already lost Kashmir. Now, they (Indian media) are simply losing their credibility in the world".

There were not only slogans against "Indian media but also brickbats". A dozen-odd crew of two major television channels had a narrow escape. Some angry youth, pelted stones on the OB van of Aaj Tak while as others smashed the glass-panes of a Star News van. And, perhaps the message is clear, courtesy Lone's death: Don't try to break Hurriyat; Don't go to be Indian; Don't spin dreams; Don't think of elections!

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