Amanullah Khan, co-founder of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) and chief architect of violent separatist movement in Kashmir died at Rawalpindi in Pakistan on Tuesday.
He was 82. Khan was from Gilgit, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). His daughter Asma is married to Kashmiri leader Sajjad Lone, a minister in the BJP-PDP coalition government in Indian Jammu and Kashmir. According to sources, Sajjad Lone, who was in New Delhi to meet the BJP high command in connection with his ministry, has decided not to travel to Pakistan for the last rites of his father-in-law. However, Lone’s wife Asma had flown to Pakistan four days ago to attend to her ailing father. Lone is expected to travel to Pakistan a couple of days after he returns to Srinagar, sources said.
Khan studied in Srinagar during 1940s and 50s. He migrated to Pakistan in 1952 where he began a political movement for Jammu & Kashmir’s independence from India. He co-founded Kashmir Independent Committee in 1963 and was elected secretary general of J&K Plebiscite Front (PF) in 1965. He co-founded the JK National Liberation Front (NLF) with Maqbool Bhat. The group shot into prominence when Hashim Qureshi and his cousin hijacked an Indian Airlines Fokker F27 plane Ganga in 1971 following which Amanullah Khan and his group were on the run in Pakistan. In 1976 he immigrated to UK and in May 1977, he formed JKLF by renaming JKNLF.
Under Khan’s leadership, JKLF kidnapped and assassinated Indian diplomat Ravindra Mahtre in UK in 1984. The kidnappers asked for the release of Maqbool Bhat (who had been arrested in India in 1976) and a ransom of one million dollars. In retaliation, the Indian government hanged Bhat. Khan was arrested in England in September 1985. He was acquitted but deported to Pakistan in December 1986.
After returning to Pakistan, Khan launched a cross-border militant movement in Indian Jammu and Kashmir from Pakistan in 1988. The Indian government had his US visa cancelled in 1990, got Interpol Warrants of Arrest issued against him and had him arrested in Belgium in October 1993 where he had been invited by the European Parliament to attend a seminar on Kashmir. But both former chief minister Farooq Abdullah and former union minister George Fernandes, who were also attending the seminar, condemned his arrest. The Belgian court rejected the Indian government’s demand for his extradition to India and released him after about three months.
On Tuesday, various Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) factions announced to hold funeral prayers in absentia (Gaaibana Janaza) of Amanullah Khan in Srinagar and Kupwara on Wednesday.
Yasin Malik who split with Khan in 1995, said that the last prayers for the founder would be held at 2:00pm in Lal Chowk on Wednesday. JKLF chairman Javaid Mir expressed sorrow and called Khan’s death “a great loss to Kashmir’s resistance movement.”