Security beefed up for Hurriyat leaders
31 May 2004
SRINAGAR: Following attacks on the residence of the senior Hurriyat Conference leader, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, and his uncle on Saturday, the authorities have strengthened the security for the separatists leaders engaged in talks with New Delhi. The Director-General of Police, Jammu and Kashmir, Gopal Sharma, said that additional security had been given to the Mirwaiz at his residence. The security for protected persons was being reviewed from time to time. Government sources told The Hindu that security for all the Hurriyat leaders who had held two rounds of talks with New Delhi was being reviewed. The Mirwaiz, who is also the chief priest of Kashmir and holds considerable influence in downtown Srinagar, is on the top of the list. The security for the Hurriyat chairman, Moulana Abbas Ansari, its former chairman, Abdul Gani Bhat, and Bilal Lone, was being upgraded. Besides, the head of the Hurriyat's breakaway group, Syed Ali Geelani, has also been provided security at his residence. The Democratic Freedom Party president, Shabir Shah, and the People Conference chairman, Sajjad Lone, also are 'well protected.' Security for the Lone family was upgraded after the senior leader, Abdul Gani Lone, was gunned down by militants on May 21, 2002. However, the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front leader, Yasin Malik, is the only exception among the top-rung separatist leaders who is without any security cover. He is reported to have refused to accept government security. Meanwhile, Moulana Abbas Ansari said that the talks would continue. 'We won't be scared by the bombs and bullets at this crossroad of history.' 'What is needed is courage and we won't be discouraged.' The Hurriyat would continue to work towards the resolution of the Kashmir issue and 'this has been endorsed by the people on May 21.'