Secretary General of the London based NGO, Jammu and Kashmir Council for Human Rights, Dr Syed Nazir Gilani first met Abdul Ghani Lone in 1993. Since then, up until Lone’s death, the author shared many platforms with the late Kashmiri leader
With the entry in 1586 of Mughal troops into the valley, Kashmir lost the independent status it had enjoyed for centuries. Despite the occupation, the people of Kashmir resolutely defended a culture of tolerance and humanity. The people’s struggle for responsible government, the right to absolute freedom from autocratic rule and the intolerance for authoritarian occupation represented a fundamentally moderate approach.
Unfortunately, the civil society of today is unrecognisable from the civil society of yesterday. Yesterday it conserved life and upheld the dignity of life, but four centuries later, it has turned upon its own children. Protected under the jurisprudence of Indian and Pakistani constitutions, under bilateral agreements between India and Pakistan and the jurisprudence of UN resolutions, the people of Kashmir have failed as a dynamic, democratic and humane society. A political school of thought that set out under its constitution on July 31, 1993, to secure for the people their right of self-determination, through peaceful methods has both failed to avert the death of a generation and has turned against the “peace” that it pledged to protect.
The political amalgam that is the Hurriet, over the last nine years, has failed to exploit the rich jurisprudence of the Kashmiri case and opted to anaesthetise the people by using the ever-increasing weight of ‘ bandhs’and ‘ hartals’. The assassination of the well-regarded leader Abdul Ghani Lone, on May 21, on his return from Dubai, should shame those who claim to be pledged to a “peaceful” resolution. It is they who have orchestrated an environment full of suspicion and fear, which has been eager to devour the leaders Lone and Mirwaiz for their chance meeting with other Kashmiris in Dubai.
Although Lone’s assassins have not been identified, some people in the Hurriet living in Kashmir and some tail-enders living abroad have claimed responsibility. India and Pakistan too have traded accusations on Lone’s death. If it is true that the assassins sit in the protective lap of India or Pakistan, it is a disgrace. Pakistan has a higher burden of responsibility, because it was represented in Dubai by the chairman of its Kashmir Committee, Sardar Qayyum. He too gave voice to the very same opinions that Lone articulated, opinions that possibly cost him his life. Lone it was who announced that mujahidin from across the border in Pakistan were not helping the Kashmir cause and that they were in fact hurting it. He asked for all cross-border infiltration to be stopped and said that the Kashmiris would fight their own battles. Sardar Qayyum must delve into his conscience and help search for his compatriot and colleague Lone’s assassin. The government of India and the Kashmir government in Srinagar too remain culpable for a lapse in security.
But the people of Kashmir, including the Hurriet leadership present at the Srinagar Idgah where Lone was assassinated, are also culpable, since they failed to identify an assassin in the Hurriet’s ranks. The other truth is that all those who live and trade on brute rhetoric and remain averse to the concept of “peace” are the enemies of the people of Kashmir and should be proclaimed as offenders.
Lone distinguished himself by turns as a hardworking village boy, lawyer, parliamentarian, and a rebel who would not turn his back on the suffering of his people. His death is the death of conscientious politics. He remains a symbol of common sense, prudence, and above all, of courage. He would not betray his enemy, let alone his friends and his conscience. Friend and foe alike can vouch for Lone’s valiant advocacy of the Kashmir cause. He had led his party into the Hurriet; unlike other parties in the organisation who were for or against amalgamation with India or Pakistan, Lone was for independence.
Perhaps it was his moderation that was his undoing; he was as persuasive an opponent of India’s invasion of Kashmir as he was of the extremist mujahidin whose strings were pulled from Pakistan, and who have along with the Indian armed forces, destroyed the once beautiful valley.
Published in Pakistan Weekly TheFridayTimes