Gunmen Kill Kashmiri Separatist Alliance Leader
30 September 2004
Srinagar: Two gunmen shot dead a member of the moderate faction of Kashmir's main separatist alliance on Thursday, police said, days after New Delhi said it will try to resume a stalled dialogue with the separatists. The men shot Mohammad Rafiq Shaeen, head of the People's Liberation League, while he was talking to a neighbour outside his home in a congested part of the summer capital, Srinagar. He was brought to hospital where doctors declared him dead. The assailants fled, a police officer said. Shaeen's group is a smaller constituent of the All Parties Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference made up of nearly two dozen political groups which has been divided over the issue of holding talks with the Indian government. The new Congress-led government said last weekend it was ready for unconditional talks with Hurriyat, softening its earlier stand that such talks must take place within the Indian constitution, which holds Kashmir to be an integral part of the country. Hurriyat's hardline faction backed by militants has rejected the dialogue with New Delhi, saying it was useless without the participation of Pakistan. Earlier this month, a close aide of senior separatist leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani who leads the hardline faction of the Hurriyat, was shot dead. Geelani blamed Indian forces for the killing but authorities denied the charge. More than 40,000 people have died in the Muslim-majority region since the revolt against Indian rule began in late 1989. Violence has been unabated despite peace moves between India and Pakistan.