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‘We Never Asked for It’: Kashmiri Separatists React After Govt Withdraws Security Cover

The two top separatists, Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Yasin Malik, who were excluded from this order, said they have no government security.

Aakash Hassan |

Updated:February 21, 2019, 10:45 AM IST
New Delhi: Terming it as a ‘burden’, the separatist leaders in Kashmir have welcomed the decision of the government to withdraw the security.

Following the February 14 suicide-bomber attack on CRPF in which at least 40 soldiers were killed, the government decided to withdraw the security provided to six separatist leaders. These include Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Abdul Gani Bhat, Bilal Lone, Fazal Haq Qureshi and Shabir Shah.

The two top separatists, Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Yasin Malik, who were excluded from this order, said they have no government security.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh, during his visit to Srinagar on Friday, had said security given to people ‘getting funds from Pakistan and its snooping agency ISI’ should be reviewed.

"Some elements in Jammu and Kashmir have links with the ISI and terrorist organisations. Their security should be reviewed," he said after reviewing security in the aftermath of the terror attack.

Why Were Separatists Given Security?

In May 1990, father of Mirwaiz Umar, Mirwaiz Maulvi Farooq, was assassinated by the Hizbul Mujahideen. It was soon after that Umar was given a security cover. The then chief minister, Farooq Abdullah, had alleged the killing could have been averted had the government provided security to Maulvi Farooq.

Day after the withdrawal order, Mirwaiz Umar’s party said that 200 youth volunteered to guard him.

In May 2002, 12 years after Maulvi Farooq’s assassination, separatist leader Abdul Gani Lone was assassinated at Srinagar’s Martyr’s graveyard, while attending the 12th memorial service for Maulvi Farooq.

After this, his sons, Bilal Lone and Sajad Lone, were given security cover. Sajad joined the mainstream in 2009 and was part of BJP-PDP alliance government in the state.

Fazal Haq Qureshi was given security in 2009 after an attempt on his life left him seriously injured while he was returning home from mosque. It was the time when Hurriyat was engaged in a secret dialogue with New Delhi.

As per the security officials, the security of these separatist leaders was enhanced following different round of talks with New Delhi. “When the separatists were engaged in talks with New Delhi the threat perception had surged,” said a former police official on condition of anonymity. “It was at that time that we enhanced the security of major separatist leaders and gave secure cover to others who were working for talks,” he added.

All the separatist leaders have welcomed the decision and said they had never asked for security.

“We see no threat to ourselves and therefore need no security. They have taken the right decision. They deserve kudos,” separatist leader Abdul Gani Bhat, told News18.
Bhat claims that he had also written to the police saying that he did not require the security.

“This is an ordinary issue. I have other crucial problems to face, like Indian forces and Pakistani forces facing each other at the border,” he said.

“I have problems like India and Pakistan not talking. I have problems like both countries not contributing to the efforts for resolving the conflicts between the two, particularly on the dispute of Kashmir,” Bhat told News18.

All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) spokesperson while reacting on this said, that withdrawing security ‘has no bearing’ and cannot ‘change the reality of the lingering Kashmir dispute or the situation the on ground’.

“The Hurriyat leaders had never asked for it. In fact, it was the government that insisted on keeping the personnel based on what they said was their assessment of threat perception. It was the government’s decision at that time to keep it, today it’s their decision to remove it,” he said.

Separatist leader Shabir Shah’s party, however, said he was never provided with any security. Shah is currently under detention at Tihar jail.

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