Militants, not forces, killed separatists: Hurriyat leader

Srinagar: It's probably a first in Kashmir's separatist movement's history. Senior separatist leader and former chairman of the Hurriyat Conference Abdul Ghani Bhat has admitted that militants, and not security agencies, are responsible for the killing of some of top separatist leaders including Mirwaiz Moulvi Farooq and Abdul Gani Lone.

Speaking to NDTV, Bhat said, "Killing is horrible. No human individual even with a modicum of ethics in him can justify the killing of anybody, particularly the innocent when they fall to bullets. The human conscience must shiver and as far as I am concerned I know that people like Abdul Hadwani, like Maulana Mahmood Farooq, like Abdul Gani Lone fell to the bullets of our own people."

It's a significant shift of stance for Hurriyat that has been accusing security forces all along for their leaders' deaths. Lone was killed for his peace efforts in 2002 and Mirwaiz Farooq in 1991.

Justifying his stand, Bhat said, "The security forces on the soil of Kashmir are not angels. They are also involved in the killing of people. But my problem are my own people who kill my own people and this is what is aching each thinking Kashmiri. Whether or not he speaks out is a different story."

Bhat also said that he may suffer and even be killed for speaking the truth but won't cow down in fear.

"My own brother was also killed by my own boys and this is a stark reality. When I recognise the stark reality, I am afraid I may also suffer. But let me suffer. Let me not seal my mouth and pull out my ears. Whether you speak out the truth or not but I am determined to do it. I have done it and I stand by it", Bhat said.