After a new situation took over Kashmir within a year after the March 1987 elections, many players from the unionist camp were killed in subsequent years, reports Syed Asma
On Mirwaiz Molvi Mohammad Farooq’s twelfth death anniversary, entire separatist camp was in attendance in a memorial function in Eidgah on May 21, 2002. After hearing their leaders keenly, the function was over. As the crowds thinned and the leaders started getting down from the stage, two to three young men, one of them masked, assassinated Abdul Gani Lone.
It added yet another memory to the blood drenched May 21. In 1990, three gunmen had barged into Molvi Farooq’s Nigeen mansion and killed him in office. Soon after him, militants gunned down one of Awami Action Committee’s (AAC) two lawmakers – Pir Mohammad Shafi in Lal Bazar on October 15, 1990.
For around 15 years now, Hurriyat Conference (m) remembers both – Mirwaiz and Lone, on this day.
Lone was a major politician from north Kashmir. He had taken off from Indian National Congress and got into state assembly in 1967. A Dard Hare resident in Kupwara, Lone was a law graduate from Aligarh Muslim University (AMU). After joining NC and later serving INC for more than ten years, Lone floated People’s Conference (PC) in 1978 “for the restoration of ‘internal autonomy’ in Kashmir”.
In 1987 elections, Lone wanted to be a part of the Muslim United Front (MUF) and made many abortive attempts to get in. Finally, his party contested from 21 places. It did not win a single seat but it sliced the opposition vote thus reducing MUF to four seats. His entry would have added more than 90,000 votes to MUF. Interestingly, Lone became part of MUF post-elections, and stayed till the amalgam disintegrated in 1989.
But he was not the only Lone from 1987 election who met a violent end. Even National Conference’s (NC) youth face Mushtaq Ahmed Lone, who made his debut to assembly in 1987, was assassinated in September 2002. He was a minister, in-charge of Home, when militants killed him in a remote Lolab village.
The gun that ruled the subsequent years, did not made a big distinction in Kashmir’s political class. NC lost many of its faces later. Nazir Ahmed Wani, 39, alias Niloora, who won from Wachi defeating MUF in 1987 with 122 votes, was also killed by militants.
A law graduate from AMU, Nazir has succeeded his father Ghulam Qadir Wani in politics. Qadir was also a lawmaker who vacated his space for his son. But within three years of his tenure as MLA, in August 1990, unidentified gunmen shot him dead.
“It was midnight, when we heard Nazir was killed on way to home,” says Ghulam Nabi Wani, Nazir’s brother. “He was coming back from an engagement party of a relative.”
Nazir was not the only causality of influential family. His father Ghulam Qadir Wani, 67, was killed in 1991. Ghulam Qadir was killed in his room while he was deep in his prayers. “We are not sure where did the bullet come from? Perhaps it pierced a window,” believes Ghulam Nabi, “I only know that my father was lying in a pool of blood on his prayer mat.”
Ghulam Qadir was with Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah since 1932 and had served Wachi as MLA twice, in 1977 and in 1983.
Kulgam emerged as a distinct constituency that lost both its lawmakers to the conflict. Interestingly, both of them were pitted against each other thrice. In 1977 Abdul Razak Mir was defeated by Ghulam Nabi Dar as he secured double the votes that Mir polled. In 1983, lawyer Dar won again though contractor Mir had shifted to neighbouring Homshalibugh. In 1987, however, they were face to face again but MUF made Mir win.
Then a new situation overtook both of them. Mir was killed as a serving lawmaker. After surviving couple of assassination attempts, Dar shifted to Srinagar in early 1990s, says Imran Nabi Dar, his son. “Dar was once kidnapped as well and was released after a daylong negotiation.”
After shifting his base to summer capital, he did not contest election but was an active participant of NC till he was no more.
On the day of assassination, Dar was called upon by his party men to Kulgam. “There was small celebration after Kulgam was granted district status,” says Imran. “Dar was coming out of a local shrine,” remembers Imran, when a grenade was tossed towards the crowd. “My father was one of the six men who were killed.”
National Conference is not the only political party that bore the brunt of turmoil. Even Bhartiya Janta Party’s (BJP) Tika Lal Taploo was killed. He had contested 1987 elections and stood third with 1736 votes. During the amorphous years of militancy, Tiploo was killed.
A law graduate from AMU, Taploo joined Kashmir Bar in 1957. He had been arrested six times as an RSS activist in the state. Taploo was shot at in Old Srinagar outside his home in September 1989.
Mir Mustafa, an independent candidate from Chadoora, who defeated both the emerging powers of 1987 – NC and MUF, also met brutal end. “He was known to be man who belonged to his constituency,” believes his son and PDP lawmaker, Javed Mustafa Mir. “In my entire life I would have seen him just 30 times. He was always busy with his work.”
Mir joined Congress in 1960s. He contested his first election in 1972 and emerged as a winner. The relationship with Congress did not last long and he contested rest of the elections as independent. Of the two elections that he contested before he was killed in 1990, he lost one in 1983 and won in 1987.
It was March 1990 when Mirs received Mustafa’s strangulated body from Dandarkha, Batamaloo, remembers Javed. Two days before he was kidnapped by unknown gunmen. “They had asked for releasing eight militants and perhaps negotiations did not go well. They killed my father,” concluded Javed.