Amanullah Khan, one of the founders of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front that led a violent campaign for independent Kashmir, including the killing of an Indian diplomat in the United Kingdom in the mid-80s and hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane to Lahore, died on Tuesday in Pakistan, which he made his home for three decades.
Khan, 80, died in a hospital in the garrison city of Rawalpindi after suffering health complications linked to a lung disease. He was hospitalised about three weeks ago.
A prominent Kashmiri leader, who was based in London before being deported to Pakistan in 1986, Khan was believed to have been the mastermind in the killing of Ravindra Mhatre, the number two in the Indian Consulate in Birmingham in 1984.
Mhatre was abducted and killed in an attempt to secure the release from prison of the group’s founder Maqbool Bhat, who was hanged to death in 1984 in Tihar jail.
In 1971, Bhat was accused of masterminding the hijacking of a passenger Airline to Lahore and the hijackers declared affiliation with JKLF under the leadership of Bhat.
After arrest and release in Pakistan, Bhat sneaked into India where he was soon captured.
Though Khan had set up the JKLF in 1977, he was relegated to the background after militant groups established their dominance in Kashmir with a bloody campaign that began in the late 80s.
Khan was born in Astore area of Kashmir’s Gilgit region, currently known as Gilgit-Baltistan.
His funeral prayer will be offered on Wednesday in the historic Liaquat Bagh park of Rawalpindi. It is not clear where he will be buried.
Khan is survived by his only daughter Asma, who is married to a Kashmiri separatist leader Sajjad Ghani Lone.
So far his death has not been reported widely in the local media. There is also conspicuous silence as far as condolence messages on such occasion by Pakistani politicians are concerned.
It could be due to the fact that Khan was believed to be not in the good books of Pakistan for his refusal to follow the official policy on Kashmir.
Image: A file photo of Amanullah Khan. Photograph: ANI