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Lone roughed up by Shiv Sena leader

Jammu, April 1 (PTI): Senior Hurriyat leader Abdul Ghani Lone was today roughed up and heckled by a leader of the local unit of Shiv Sena but did not receive any injuries.

The incident occured when Kalka Ji Maharaj, accompanied by a few Sena activists and two personal security officers, menacingly walked towards Lone and pushed and kicked him while the latter was talking to television crew after addressing a press conference.

Maharaj raised slogans like "Jammu ke gadaron ko nikal do. Desh ki gadaron ko nikal do (throw out traitors of Jammu. Throw out traitors of India) during the scuffle at a local hotel here where Lone was having the press meet.

Some security officials attempted to restrain Maharaj but he continued to threaten a visibly shocked Lone.

Lone later told PTI that he was not injured in any manner though the Shiv Sena leader tried to assault him.

Earlier, Lone pleaded that the JKLF Chief Yasin Malik should be released from detention since his health was deteriorating. He also sought Prime Minister's intervention in this matter.


The News International, Tuesday, April 02, 2002
Sena activist manhandles Lone

HELD SRINAGAR: The People's Conference chief and executive member of the Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference, Abdul Gani Lone, said on Monday he was attacked by an alleged activist of the hard-line Hindu group Shiv Sena. "He slapped him at least four or five times and tore his clothes," said a witness.

Lone said by telephone in held Jammu a man shouting slogans came up to him and started beating him as he was about to finish a news conference. "He tore my clothes. Even my personal guard was prevented from saving me by paramilitary personnel present there. This was, undoubtedly, directed against my life," Lone said.

Indian police detained a militant leader in occupied Kashmir after another weekend of deadly clashes between militants and the military. Javid Mir, acting chairman of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), was arrested by police near the Abi Guzar area of held Srinagar, the state's summer capital, witnesses said. The reason for his arrest was not immediately known, but Indian authorities frequently detain Kashmir activists for questioning, particularly when tension in the state is running high.

His arrest comes after 15 people, including nine militants, were killed in violence across the disputed Himalayan state. Police said soldiers killed three militants in an overnight gunbattle in Baramulla district, 55 km north of held Srinagar, while five other guerrillas died in gunbattles in Anantnag district of south Kashmir.

A teacher and an activist of Kashmir's ruling National Conference party were killed by suspected rebels in north Kashmir, police said. Elsewhere, three civilians and two militants were killed in separate shootouts in the mountainous region.


The News International, Wednesday, May 22, 2002
APHC leader Ghani Lone gunned down in Srinagar

Vajpayee says assassination to affect peace process; Powell terms murder a 'direct attack' on hopes for a political dialogue in disputed region

HELD SRINAGAR: Abdul Ghani Lone, a senior separatist leader, who was seen as a moderate voice in held Kashmir, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen on Tuesday, witnesses said.

Lone, an executive member of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), was killed in Srinagar as he attended a public meeting to mark the anniversary of the death of another separatist leader, Molvi Muhammd Farooq, who was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in 1990.

Lone, who was in his 70s, wanted to initiate steps to hold dialogue with the Indian government to find a political solution to the Kashmir dispute. One of his personal security officers was also shot dead in the daring attack and another security guard was injured, witnesses said.

Lone's driver Abdul Rashid said, he was shot at close range by at least two attackers. "When the function was over, Lone (70), was leaving the venue and going to the car, when a gunmen opened fire," he said.

"He fell to the ground, he was reciting the Holy Quran. Then the gunman fired at him again at close range as he lay on the ground," Rashid added. The assailants also threw a grenade, which failed to explode, witnesses said. Six civilians were also injured. It was not known who was behind Lone's killing, but Farooq Abdullah, Kashmir's Chief Minister, immediately blamed it on Pakistan.

Lone, who headed the People's Conference party, was seen as a moderate separatist leader who was criticised by hard-liners for his stance that violence was not a solution to the Kashmir dispute.

There had been speculation in the Indian media that Lone was considering taking part in elections in held Kashmir, due to be held later this year, which many militant groups had already said they would boycott. Last month, Lone was manhandled at a press conference by a member of the rightwing Hindu Shiv Sena party. He had survived previous attempts on his life, including a car bomb that went off outside his house two years ago.

"We have heard that terrorists have shot Abdul Ghani Lone dead and the body has been taken home. Whoever wants a peaceful solution in held Kashmir is killed by Pakistan," he said. The killing came shortly before Indian Prime Minster Atal Behari Vajpayee arrived in held Kashmir.

Late on Tuesday, Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said the assassination of Abdul Ghani Lone will affect the peace process in Kashmir but not stop it. "I condemn this incident. I offer my condolences to the family," he said, shortly after arriving in held Jammu.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Colin Powell condemned as terrorism the murder of a leading Kashmiri separatist, calling it a "direct attack" on hopes for a political dialogue in the disputed region that is the source of rising tension between India and Pakistan. "I was saddened and angered to hear that Abdul Ghani Lone ... was assassinated in Srinagar," Powell said in a statement.

"We have not seen any claim of responsibility for the murder, but this is a direct attack on hopes for a fair political process in Kashmir," he said and added "His killers are clearly among those who oppose a peaceful political resolution there. This was a terrorist act designed to undermine the hopes of the Kashmiri people for free and fair elections without violence." Powell noted that Lone had been committed to a peaceful resolution of the dispute. "Lone sought to achieve his goals through peaceful, democratic means and courageously stood up to extremists," he added.

APHC Chairman Abdul Ghani Bhat said Lone's death was a setback for the movement and that leaders of the group would meet on Wednesday. Asked who was behind the killing, he said: "We will tell you tomorrow (Wednesday)."

United Jihad Council, an alliance of guerrilla groups fighting India's rule in held Kashmir, on Tuesday accused Indian intelligence agencies as being behind the killing of Abdul Ghani Lone. Home Minister Lal Krishna Advani said the assassination was an attempt to disrupt holding of polls in Indian Kashmir. India's main opposition Congress party expressed its grief over the incident.


The News International, Wednesday, May 22, 2002
Pakistan condemns Lone's murder, blames Shiv Sena

By our correspondent

ISLAMABAD The government has strongly condemned the killing of All Parties Hurriyat Conference leader Abdul Ghani Lone in occupied Kashmir on Tuesday and hinted at the possible hand of Indian extremists, the Shiv Sina, in this attack.

The death of Abdul Ghani Lone comes a few hours before Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee was due to visit occupied Kashmir under unprecedented security, while Kashmiris themselves had given a call for complete shut-down.

Additional Secretary, South Asian Desk at the Foreign Office, Kamran Niaz read out a statement condemning the murder of Abdul Ghani Lone. He said this was another instance of excesses of the Indian military inside occupied Kashmir.

"We condemn this attack. Only last month the Shiv Sina had carried out an attack on Abdul Ghani Lone. We are saddened by his death and condole with his family, the APHC leaders and all Kashmiris," said Kamran Niaz.


The News International, Wednesday, May 22, 2002, (Updated at 1930 PST)
Thousands attend Lone’s funeral procession

SRINAGAR: Thousands of supporters of slain Kashmiri leader Abdul Ghani Lone Wednesday poured on to the streets of Srinagar to take part in his funeral procession.

Lone was shot dead on Tuesday by unidentified gunmen as he attended a rally in Srinagar.

His body, draped in green cloth, was placed in a truck for the 12 kilometre journey from his home in the Rawalpora area of Srinagar to the Eidgah graveyard where he will be buried and where he was killed


The News International, Wednesday, May 22, 2002, (Updated at 1730 PST)
APHC demands impartial inquiry into assassination of Lone

OCCUPIED SRINAGAR: In occupied Kashmir, the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, at its emergent meeting in Srinagar Wednesday demanded immediate impartial inquiry into the martyrdom yesterday of senior APHC leader, Abdul Ghani Lone.

The meeting presided over by the APHC Chairman, Professor Abdul Ghani Butt, emphasized that urgent impartial inquiry into this tragedy is imperative so that the hidden hands behind it are unveiled.

The meeting was attended by Hafizullah Makhdoomi representing Lone's party, Peoples conference, Syed Ali Gilani, Mir Waiz Umar Farooq, Maulvi Abbas Ansari, Ghulam Nabi Darzi and Javid Ahmad Mir.


The News International, Thursday, May 23, 2002
Thousands attend Lone's funeral
Complete shut-down in Valley;
APHC calls for two-day strike

HELD SRINAGAR: Thousands of supporters of slain Kashmiri leader Abdul Gani Lone on Wednesday poured on to the streets of held Kashmir to take part in his funeral procession. Lone was shot dead on Tuesday by unidentified gunmen as he attended a rally in held Srinagar.

The death of the 70-year-old lawyer-turned-politician came as Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee visited held Kashmir. Security in the troubled Himalayan region, already high for Vajpayee's visit, was even tighter after Lone's killing with police and paramilitary forces flooding the streets and marksmen posted on rooftops along the funeral route.

His body, draped in green cloth, was placed in a truck for the 12-kilometre long journey from his home in the Rawalpora district of Srinagar to the Martyr's Graveyard, where he was buried, a couple of yards from where he was gunned down.

Strict security measures were adopted during the funeral procession, with police vans mounted with machine guns leading the hearse-truck and hundreds of police and paramilitary officers lining the roads. More than 10,000 supporters followed Lone's body in cars, jeeps, buses and on motorbikes and cycles.

Many carried blue flags of the People's Conference -- the political party Lone formed in the 1970s, which is part of Kashmir's main separatist alliance the All Party Hurriyat Conference. The mourners, hands folded, stood in rows reciting holy Quran as Lone's body was lowered into the ground.

Earlier his daughter, Shabnam Lone, a Supreme Court lawyer, told mourners who gathered at the family house where his body lay on the lawn to "look at his face, it does not show fear, it shows a sense of knowledge -- he knew his assassin had come".

No group has claimed responsibility for his death but some Indian leaders blamed Pakistan while Pakistan accused India's "occupying forces" in held Kashmir. The city was deserted except for the procession after being shut down by a general strike called by Kashmir's main separatist alliance before Lone's death to protest against Vajpayee's visit.

The All Parties Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference of which Lone was a key leader called the strike, saying human rights violations by security forces had risen before Vajpayee's visit. Lone was one of the seven executive members of the Hurriyat. Others carried black flags in protest at the killing.

People's Conference supporters shouted "We want freedom. Freedom is our birthright. We will get it at any cost" as the hearse-truck crawled the streets to finish the journey in more than two hours. Women and children stood on roofs of centuries-old buildings while elderly men sat on cots placed on footpaths to pay their respects to Lone.

Separatist leaders, including Hurriyat chairman Abdul Gani Bhat, Omar Farooq, Javed Mir and Syed Ali Geelani followed the procession in cars. "It is a tragic loss to the movement," said Shabir Shah, a senior separatist leader who has spent more than 20 years in various jails. Hyder Ali, a businessman attending the funeral, said Lone had stuck bravely to his ideals. "He had the courage to speak for the people. After so many years of violence, he believed only dialogue could resolve the issue of Kashmir. It is a sad end," he said. The funeral procession filled the streets of Srinagar, which were otherwise deserted on Wednesday after a strike called APHC.

The APHC has called for a two-day general strike beginning on Thursday (today) to protest the assassination of one of its founding leaders. The All Party Hurriyat Conference said it had called for the strike to protest the murder of Abdul Gani Lone by unidentified gunmen on Tuesday. Bhat told the mourners gathered at the graveyard that Lone's death was a loss for the movement. "Still we are all united as a political force," he said.

A one-day strike to protest the visit of Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee crippled the life of Kashmir valley on Wednesday. The strike, called by the All Party Hurriyat Conference, closed down shops and businesses in Srinagar. Most traffic was off the roads. The strike has been co-sponsored by the Kashmir High Court Bar Association. The Hurriyat, in calling for a strike, accused the Indian leadership of creating war hysteria on the subcontinent and bringing the region to the brink of disaster.

"It is a dangerous situation," a statement by the Hurriyat said and added "And it is under these conditions that the Indian prime minister is visiting held Kashmir." "Vajpayee would make the issue of Kashmir more complex through economic packages and hollow political statements," it said.

A curfew has been imposed in Lone's birthplace in a village in Handwara township of Kupwara district. The step has been taken to prevent violent protests against the assassination, police said. Meanwhile, the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) on Wednesday demanded an immediate probe into the assassination of Abdul Ghani Lone.


Kashmir Index