Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front today condoled the death of Amanullah Khan, one of the founders of the separatist group that led a violent campaign for independent Kashmir, describing it as an "irreparable loss" to the ongoing "freedom struggle".
The 82-year-old leader was suffering from chronic lung disease for the last one year and breathed his last in a Rawalpindi hospital this morning, a JKLF spokesman said here.
He said the funeral prayers would be held at Liaquat Bagh in Rawalpindi tomorrow at 11 am and later his body will be laid to rest at his ancestral graveyard at Astor in Gilgit.
Khan is survived by daughter Asma Khan, who is married to separatist-turned-politician Sajjad Ghani Lone.
Asma had flown to Pakistan last week to attend to her ailing father. Lone, who is chairman of a Peoples Conference faction and minister in the PDP-led government in Jammu and Kashmir, is unlikely to attend the last rites, party sources said.
Expressing grief over the demise of the JKLF leader, moderate Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said, "Khan was a great nationalist leader and his passing away has left a deep void which is very hard to fill in the future."
General Secretary of hardline Hurriyat Conference, Shabir Ahmad Shah also expressed sorrow over the demise of "a great resistance leader".
"Khan rendered meritorious service for the cause of freedom and his services will be written in golden letters," he said.
A prominent Kashmiri leader, who was based in London before being deported to Pakistan in 1986, Khan was believed to have masterminded the killing of Ravindra Mhatre, the number two in the Indian Consulate in Birmingham in 1984.
Though Khan had set up 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.
He has written two books Free Kashmir (English) and My Autobiography (in Urdu) and about three dozen booklets and pamphlets in English and Urdu highlighting different aspects of the Kashmir issue.
"Khan visited over 20 countries to lobby for the Kashmir cause including attending the UN General Assembly," the spokesman said.
National Conference leaders Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah condoled the demise of Khan, saying he was "a born rebellion".
Farooq and Omar extended their heartfelt condolences to Khan's family in their hour of grief and loss, a party statement said.
Independent legislator from north Kashmir's Langate Assembly constituency Sheikh Abdul Rashid also condoled Khan's death, saying he "stood against the wind in the times when those claiming today (to be) the lone warriors of resistance movement were seeing no harm in contesting elections under Indian constitution".
He lived a very simple life and stood by his principles but unfortunately like many nationalist Kashmiris he was often misunderstood, Rashid said.
He was the one who used to talk about the necessity to resolve Kashmir dispute at a time when nobody would even dare to speak a word on Kashmir, the MLA said.