The BJP has picked Farooq Khan, onetime right hand man of Pakistan based global terrorist Syed Salahuddin, as its candidate for Kashmir’s municipal elections.
Farooq crossed over to Pakistan in 1989 where he joined the J&K Liberation Front (JKLF) outfit and received training in terror activities and handling of guns, grenades and remote control explosive devices in an ISI camp in Mianwali.
Terrorists of the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) on Thursday threatened him to withdraw from the polls failing which he would be responsible for the consequences. However, Farooq was firm on contesting the elections on the BJP symbol in a bid to bring peace in Kashmir.
Farooq accused the separatist leadership for the current unrest in the valley and said they were not well-wishers of Kashmiris.
The former terrorist, who spent seven years in various jails including Tihar and Kot-Bhalwal of Jammu, was polling agent of Salahuddin who unsuccessfully contested the 1987 Assembly election from a Srinagar seat as a candidate of the Muslim United Front (MUF). He alongwith Salahuddin crossed over to Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) when allegations of rigging of the elections were made.
Having realized that the Pakistan backed terrorist leaders and separatists were just misusing the Kashmiri youth, he chose to defy the poll boycott call of his mentor Salahuddin and contest the municipal elections. “I am not afraid of the consequences”, he said.
Farooq says that terrorism would have been averted if the elections of 1987 had been fair. Hundreds of youth crossed the Line of Control (LOC) to receive arms training by the Pakistan army, he says.
The petrol bomb attack at houses of two BJP candidates last night in Srinagar has failed to deter Farooq who says that, if elected, he would utilize his earnings on welfare of families of former terrorists. There was no one to take care of such families for whom he had staged sit in protests in Srinagar.
Farooq, while talking to media persons in Srinagar, recalled that after being arrested in September 1991 he was interrogated by different agencies at various places in Srinagar. While lodged in the Jammu jail, he came in contact with another dreaded terrorist Masood Azhar, who was later released for being swapped with passengers of the Indian Airlines flight that was hijacked to Kandhar.
He laments that after his release from jail in 1996, he met the separatist leaders for some job to earn bread for his family but no one helped him.