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Doorstep strike on Geelani kin

Srinagar, Nov. 8: Unidentified gunmen fired at and injured Altaf Ahmad Shah, the son-in-law of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the chairman of the breakaway group of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference.

Altaf was entering his home at Buchpora on the city's outskirts late this evening when the gunmen ' who had been lying in wait ' fired at him from close range, police said. Altaf was hit in the arm and neck region and rushed to the Soura Medical Institute where he was operated upon.

'He (Altaf) was shifted to hospital. He has received a bullet wound in his neck. Doctors are now performing a surgery in the institute,' said Srinagar district police chief Javed Geelani soon after the attack.

The attack is the latest in a series on Hurriyat leaders and people linked to them and the fifth such attempt in as many months.

On May 21, 2002, moderate leader Abdul Gani Lone was shot dead when he tried to talk peace with the jihadis. Lone had proposed that militants should quit Kashmir and allow the political process to begin.

Lone was shot at the end of a rally at the martyrs' graveyard held in memory of another assassinated Kashmiri leader. Hurriyat spokesperson Abdul Majid Bandey had then said that the killing was a 'deep conspiracy' to scuttle the 'saner voice' of the Kashmiri people and its leadership.

Geelani had then faced an angry outburst from the thousands who had gathered at Lone's residence. He was even prevented from entering the house by the assassinated leader's supporters.

Then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who headed the National Democratic Alliance government, had feared the killing would affect the peace process.

Pakistan had condemned the murder, as had the US. However, the killings continued.

This year, moderate Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umer Farooq's uncle, Moulvi Mushtaq, was shot dead in May, while Geelani's close aide Pir Hissamuddin was murdered in September.

Mohammad Rafiq Shah, the president of the People's Liberation League who was associated with the moderate Hurriyat faction, was killed on September 30. Riyaz Rasool of the Salvation Movement, another constituent of the moderate faction of the Hurriyat, was killed last month.

Today's attack also comes in the backdrop of an attempt at unity in the conglomerate being spearheaded by Umer Farooq and Union home minister Shivraj Patil, who concluded a three-day visit to the state.

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