Amanullah Khan, torchbearer of independent Kashmir, passes away

After funeral prayers at Rawalpindi, JKLF founder to be laid to rest in Gilgit today as per his wish; Abdullahs, Geelani, Mirwaiz, others condole demise

TARIQ NAQASH
Muzaffarabad/Srinagar, Publish Date: Apr 27 2016 12:30AM | Updated Date: Apr 27 2016 1:10AM
Amanullah Khan, torchbearer of independent Kashmir, passes awayFile Photo

Amanullah Khan, the man who dedicated his life for the cause of Kashmir’s independence, passed away on Tuesday after losing his battle with chronic pulmonary disease. He was 85.

Khan, who was hospitalized in a Rawalpindi health facility a week ago, breathed his last at about 8.30 am, marking an end to an untiring and robust struggle for accomplishment of his dream to see Kashmir’s independence, envisaging reunification of divided state of Jammu and Kashmir and its emergence as a sovereign country on the globe.
“I am a well-wisher of Pakistan but my loyalty is restricted to Kashmir,” he would often say, without mincing any words.
Khan was the supreme head of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), an organisation he raised in 1977 in UK, which underwent a split in 1995 but reunited in 2012.
He was born on August 24, 1931, in Pari Shang village of Astore, some 110 kms away from Gilgit, in a family that actually belonged to Yaghistan.
In 1935, Khan was sent to his elder married sister in Hihama village in Kashmir Valley where he attended a primary school. He passed Class 10 from Handwara in north Kashmir in 1950 and took admission at SP College Srinagar, with science subjects. However, due to political turmoil, he left for Jammu from where he entered Pakistan through the working border in January 1952 and after spending few months in Rawalpindi and Peshawar, finally moved to Karachi.
In 1953, Khan took admission in FSc in Sindh Muslim College, and two years later he established ‘Kashmir Students Federation’ out of his passion to do something for his motherland. He did his graduation in 1957, and then earned LLB degree from S M Law College, Karachi.
Side by side, Khan also kept on doing different jobs, mainly teaching and tutoring. He established a school in his single room residence in Lee Market Karachi, where he would sleep at night and make it up for students early morning. The school became popular and more rooms in the building were hired. Later he established another school in another neighbourhood and by 1970, the number of students in three shifts in his schools went up to 1700. However, all of his schools were taken over by Bhutto government under its ‘nationalisation’ policy.
In the 1961 Pakistan-administered Kashmir (PaK) presidential elections under the Basic Democracy System, he stood by GhulamNabiGilkar, who did not succeed. However, in the Kashmir State Council elections, G M Lone, the candidate he supported emerged victorious. In May 1963, Khan was among some notable Kashmiris who founded “Kashmir Independents Committee” (KIC), advocating right of complete independence for Kashmir, with Lone as its convener.
It were the efforts of KIC that Jammu Kashmir Plebiscite Front (JKPF) was raised in Sialkot in April 1965, with Abdul Khaliq Ansari, Amanullah Khan and Muhammad Maqbool Butt as its founding president, general secretary and publicity secretary, respectively. At the end of the convention on April 5, all of them went to ‘No Men’s Land’ near Sochetgarh, where they pledged on oath to leave no stone unturned for the freedom of their motherland.
In August 1965, National Liberation Front (NLF) was raised as a militant wing of JKPF to launch an armed freedom struggle in Kashmir.
Khan faced imprisonments on a number of occasions in his life, some stretching as long as 15 months. In May 1970, JKPF leaders visited Gilgit to raise voice for people of what was then known as Northern Areas. While some were exiled, Khan remained in prison from November 1970 to February 1972 in Gilgit and Chilas.
During that period, Indian airline Ganga was hijacked and brought to Pakistan by two Kashmiri youths. The incident unleashed terror on JKPF leaders and activists, and around 300 of them were rounded up from across the country. Khan was brought from Gilgit prison to Lahore Fort for two months, where he too faced third degree torture like others.
Amid a life of toil, Khan tied the nuptial knot at the age of 39 with ZahidaPerveen, daughter of a former Gilgit-Baltistan IGP. The couple had a baby girl in July 1974—their only child—named Asma Khan, who got married to SajjadGhani Lone in 2000.
Lone later switched sides to pro-India camp, something that had shocked Khan.
Back in 1976, Khan went to England to highlight Kashmir struggle, and there he laid the foundation of JKLF in May 1977.
In 1984, an Indian diplomat RavindraMhatre was killed by some Kashmiris in Birmingham to mount pressure on Indian government for release of Maqbool Butt, who had been handed down capital punishment. British authorities arrested Khan in connection with the murder but released and deported him to Pakistan after 10 months.
Prior to that, the JKLF had established a branch in PaK.
In 1995, Yasin Malik, who was leading JKLF in Jammu and Kashmir, publicly renounced violence in a move that precipitated split in the organisation, as Khan refused to own Malik’s stance, perhaps because it was the JKLF that had launched the ongoing armed struggle across the divide in 1989.
In 2005, India allowed Malik to visit Pakistan for the first time, and as the two leaders met, they agreed to reunite JKLF. But it did not materialize then. Malik came to Pakistan again in 2012, and during that tour both took a final decision for reunification, which was ratified by the central executive committees of both factions in August that year. It was decided then that Khan will remain supreme head till his last breath, while chairman will come through elections. In June 2013, the supreme council elected Malik as chairman and endorsed Khan as the supreme head.
Earlier on February 11, 1992, the JKLF had organised a march towards the Line of Control in Chakothi. Khan was arrested in Rawalpindi and two other key leaders were taken into custody a short ahead of Chakothi. As many as six people were killed in firing by security forces in a bid to prevent the marchers from crossing the LoC.
Yet another attempt was made on October 24, the same year, by PaK opposition parties, JKLF being one of them. Khan was at the forefront of marchers in Chakothi sector, where a JKLF activist was killed and many others injured in firing by security forces.
All through his life, the zestful leader did not miss any opportunity to highlight the plight of divided Kashmiris and advocated his ideology of their reunification and complete independence.
Equipped with excellent communication skills, he pursued his cause with his speech, publications and a consistent contact with all stakeholders.
Apart from numerous pamphlets on Kashmir freedom movement in the backdrop of his ideology, Khan had also authored two thick books on his life and struggle.
According to Rafiq Dar, a spokesman for the late leader, Khan travelled to Gilgit early this year and held meetings with cross section of society, including governor and chief minister, to warn them of repercussions of proposed Gilgit-Baltistan’s conversion into a province of Pakistan.
He was relieved that the majority had concurred with his stance. However, as his health condition deteriorated due to harsh weather, he had to return to Rawalpindi only to undergo a string of medical tests, Dar said.
Since April 5, Khan was constantly bed-bound in different health facilities, but, nevertheless, he was always in a relaxed frame of mind, greeting his visitors and making victory sings to them.
 “In his death we have a lost a leader, a benevolent father, a mentor, a guide and what not,” Dar said.
Khan’s funeral will be offered in Rawalpindi’s famous LiaquatBagh at 11 am on Wednesday, following which the body will be taken by road to Gilgit for burial in accordance with his will.
Kashmiri leaders MehmoodSaghar, Hasan-ul-Bana and SaleemHaroon also condoled the demise of Amanullah Khan and prayed for peace to the departed soul. They recalled the great contributions of Khan towards Kashmir’s freedom struggle. 
 
ABDULLAHS CONDOLE DEMISE 
National Conference President Dr. Farooq Abdullah and Working President Omar Abdullah condoled the demise of Amanullah Khan. Praying for peace to the departed soul, Dr. Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah extended their heartfelt condolences to Khan’s family in this hour of grief and loss. “Various senior leaders of the party have also condoled the demise of Amanullah Khan and prayed for peace to the departed soul,” a statement issued here said.
 
GEELANI, MIRWAIZ CONDOLE DEMISE
Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani in his condolence message said that Amanullah Khan eagerly wanted to take people of Kashmir out of miseries and trouble. Expressing heartfelt condolences with the bereaved family, Geelani prayed for the departed soul.  
Expressing grief and sorrow over the demise, the Chairman Hurriyat Conference (M) Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said Khan’s death has left behind a void that would be very difficult to fill.
In his condolence message, the Mirwaiz said the departed leader dedicated his life right from his childhood to his last breath to the great cause of Kashmir’s freedom and faced uncountable problems, obstacles and difficulties while pursuing the path of freedom of Kashmir.  “He gave innumerable sacrifices but his resolve and dedication towards the goal of freedom never showed any signs of weakness,” Mirwaiz said. “Like a true patriot and a leader, Khan by highlighting the issue at various international platforms had contributed in highlighting that the resistance movement of Kashmir was just and legitimate. This towering and consistent leader had to bear the atrocities in jails for raising voice for the oppressed people of Kashmir.”  Mirwaiz would chair a condolence meet at the party headquarters at Rajbagh on Wednesday in which glowing tributes would be paid to the deceased resistance leader besides offering prayers for him.
 

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