June 2000 News

Hurriyat cautious in condemning Valley blast

4 June 2000
Hindustan Times
Arun Joshi

Srinagar: THE ASSASSINATION attempt on Moulvi Iftikhar Hussain Ansari through an IED explosion at a religious gathering has stirred passions in Kashmir. That it has also confronted Kashmir with perceived new dangers became too obvious when the mainstream and the secessionists joined in condemning the incident that left 11 dead and several others wounded. The idea appears to avoid confrontations and clashes that could smear the image of Kashmir in the eyes of the world. That happens rarely in now-a-days Kashmir. Rather, it is unprecedented. Next thing that may happen not too soon is trading of allegations and counter-allegations as to who engineered the attempt to assassinate the influential Shiite leader with a high political and business profile that often attracted controversies. This sort of condemnation has only two precedents. First, when Mirwaiz Moulvi Farooq was assassinated in May 1990; the assassination was followed by equally tragic killing of 55 people when his funeral procession was fired upon in downtown Srinagar. The second occasion was when Qazi Nissar, ano-ther religious le-ader and Islamic scholar of South Kashmir, was kil-led in Anantnag in June 1994. The All-Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) has te-rmed the recent blast ''unfortunate''. It has formed a three-member committee to investigate the incident and mourned the loss of the lives in the explosion. It discreetly avoided any reference to Moulvi Ansari, who is counted among pro-India leaders in Kashmir. The APHC''s concerns are clear. It is seen as a conglomerate representing pure Kashmiri Muslim thought. Things are not the same for Sikhs after the Chittisinghpora incident. And if things start hurting Shiite Muslims, APHC''s recently enh-anced credibility and recognition would suffer a major blow. It has taken a calculated step to condemn the incident despite some unconfirmed reports suggesting that pro-Pakistan militant outfit Hizb-ul-Mujahadeen had owned the responsibility for the explosion. The condemnation to Khawja Gund Qasim blast from both sides was in a sharp contrast to the reaction to the assassination of State Power Minister Ghulam Hassan Bhat in South Kashmir in mid-May. His killing was condemned by mainstream political parties. Separatists chose to keep quiet. To them that incident was only a balancing act to the series of ''atrocities and custodial killings'' in Kashmir.


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