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Geelani steps down, Sehraie steps up

Mubashir Bukhari

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By Mubashir Bukhari

Srinagar, Mar 19: Senior separatist leader Muhammad Ashraf Sehraie was on Monday appointed as the chairman of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat (TeH), a dominant part of Syed Ali Geelani-led Hurriyat (G) faction.
“In a unanimous decision taken in an extraordinary meeting of its highest decision making body (Majlis-e-Shoora) of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat appointed Mohammad Ashraf Sehraie as interim Chairman, till the organizational elections, to be held late this year,” read a TeH statement.
The Tehreeq-e-Hurriyat led by Syed Ali Geelani Monday held a meeting at its office in Srinagar and appointed Sehraie as party chairman, thus replacing Syed Ali Shah Geelani.
The decision to replace Geelani with Sehraie, who is his old-time friend and associate, was taken after an executive meet of the organisation.
Geelani while addressing the members of Shoora, said that they were aware of the prevailing situation of the valley and hard times the “pro-freedom” camp was facing especially Tehreek-e-Hurriyat.
“By the grace of Allah Almighty and your timely cooperation I have stood my stand despite testing times of Jails, Interrogations, domestic hardships, physical and psychological onslaught, but for the last 8 years of continuous house arrest, restrictions on the interactions with my party colleagues has dented the function of the organization,” Geelani said.
He added that merely holding a position without practical contribution is injustice not only with the post, but the conscience as well.
“So today I willfully step-down from the chairmanship, and advise the shoora to arrange an alternative at the earliest. I extend my fullest cooperation and sincere wishes to the would-be leadership of the organization,” Geelani, as per the TeH statement said.
Later, before conclusion, the Shoora “unanimously appointed Sehraie as interim chairman till the party elections to be held later in the year”.
Geelani and Sehraie were among the founding members of the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat (TeH) when it was formed in 2004 after Geelani had a rift with Jamat-e-Islami, its parent organisation.
Sehraie, then a member of Jamat, was instrumental in the formation of the new separatist outfit, say sources. Sehraie parted ways with the Jamat more than a decade ago.
Sehraie, who was until now the general secretary of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, was tipped to be the first choice to replace Geelani. In fact, three years ago, Geelani had decided to nominate him as his successor in the Hurriyat but the announcement was halted at the last moment after some members questioned Geelani making a nomination when organisation had an election system.
Sehraie’s appointment also comes two days after Geelani said he rejected an offer of talks by the Modi government in New Delhi when an official of Intelligence Bureau (IB) had visited him at his residence here.
In November 2015, Geelani was elected as lifetime chairman of the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat .
Though reports say that the handing over of the charge was due to the old age of Geelani, some say there may be other factors which may have pushed in the change.
As per reports, Sehraie, a few months ago, had written to Geelani expressing his displeasure about some developments within the faction.
Sehraie did not attend many executive council meetings of the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat and the Hurriyat as well.
The change of guard also comes at a time of an unprecedented crackdown by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on the separatist camp.
NIA has arrested several senior pro-freedom leaders in the past one year. They are currently detained in Tihar Jail in New Delhi.
Apart from senior Hurriyat leaders Shabir Shah, Nayeem Khan, Shahid-ul-Islam, Farooq Dar alias Bitta Karate, Meraj-ud-Din Kalwal, Peer Saifullah and Ayaz Akbar, Geelani’s son-in-law Altaf Ahmad Shah is presently under NIA detention while his sons Naeem Geelani and Naseem Geelani were summoned by the agency many times in the past.
A resident of Tikki Pora Lolab in North Kashmir’s Kupwara district, Sehraie joined Jama’at in 1950s a few years after Geelani.
He is credited to have worked as a “foot soldier” in JeI in the trying times. He has held various positions in JeI including that of Secretary General.
When JeI J&K decided to launch its student wing, Sehraie was chosen to lead Shooba-i-Talaba since 1977. Shooba-i-Talaba was renamed as Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba (IJT) later on and the current framework of IJT has been designed by Sehraie himself in 2001.

 

Mubashir joined The Kashmir Monitor as a reporter/ sub-editor in Jan 2013. Since then, he has been consistently covering beats including conflict, politics, education, and health. He is also handling online section of the paper besides working as Video Producer.

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Jaish almost wiped out, no one willing to head it: Army

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Apr 24: Army on Wednesday claimed the government forces have “severely targeted” the militants for the last few months and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) militant outfit was “almost wiped out with no one willing to take over it”.

Addressing a press conference here, GOC 15 Corps, KJS Dhillon, who was accompanied by Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbagh Singh, IGP Kashmir SP Pani, and IG CRPF Zulfikar Hassan, said that 69 militants have been killed and 12 of them arrested so far this year.

“Post Pulwama incident, 41 militants have been killed and out of them 25 belonged to Jaish-e-Mohammed, 13 of them were Pakistanis while 13 were A+ category,” Dhillon said.

 

The GOC 15 Corps claimed that they have targeted JeM leadership.

“The situation now is so that no one is coming forward to take over the leadership of JeM in the valley,” he said.

“Even after Pakistan’s best efforts, we will continue to suppress JeM. The operations against the militants will continue with full vigour and we will not let militancy rise up,” he said, while appealing the local militants to surrender.

“Recruitment of local militants has gone down. In addition, those who surrender, we will take care of their security,” he said.

Dhillon also advised civilians not to rush to the encounter sites.

Asked about the bi-weekly restrictions on civilian traffic on the Highway, he replied, “This is just a temporary measure. There are now relaxations on the civilian traffic.”

On the occasion, the DGP said 272 militants were killed in the state during 2018 and a “large number was apprehended.”

He too claimed that the local recruitment in militant outfits had declined.

“2018 was generally a successful year. There has been less ‘law and order’ problem. We brought many youth (who had joined militancy) back to their homes,” the DGP claimed.

“Elections have been conducted peacefully in the state because of a well-planned security grid. Voter turnover at 13 percent in Anantnag district is not less. People voted despite threats, no one can be forced to vote,” he said.

Asked there were reports that 11 youth had gone missing in south Kashmir during the last one month, the IGP Kashmir said, “Few had gone missing but returned. They had gone missing for other reasons, not to join militancy.”

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Held Pak militant paraded before media

‘Chota Dujana was active in Srinagar for over a year’

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Apr 24: Police on Wednesday presented a Pakistani militant Mohammad Waqar, alias Chota Dujana before the media, who, they claimed, was arrested from Pattan area in Baramulla on Monday.

During a press conference here, the militant was briefly allowed to respond to media.

“My name is Mohammad Waqar, resident of Miana Mohalla Punjab in Pakistan. I underwent a four-month militant training there,” he said.

 

 “I was told that Kashmiris are harassed, women are assaulted and Muslims are not allowed to offer prayers in Masjids. But I did not find any such thing here,” he replied when asked why had he picked up arms.

The militant was soon moved away.

SSP Baramulla, Abdul Wahid, said Waqar was affiliated with Lashkar-e-Toiba and had arrived in Kashmir in July 2017.

“He was operating in Srinagar for over a year now,” the officer said.

He added that the militant was travelling in a vehicle along with a Kashmiri when they were intercepted by the police near Mirgund, Pattan.

“They were chased and arrested near Chainabal Pattan,” he said.

The SSP said that as per their preliminary investigations, the militant was given shelter in old city as well as uptown areas of Srinagar.

“His plan was to resurrect militancy in Baramulla,” Wahid said.

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Malik sent to judicial custody till May 24

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New Delhi, Apr 24: A Delhi court Wednesday sent the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chief Yasin Malik, arrested in connection with the alleged funding case, to judicial custody till May 24.

The Tihar jail authorities have also moved an application seeking direction to produce Malik through video conferencing due to security concerns.

The family of Yasin Malik, said on Saturday, that the JKLF chief had fallen ill and was shifted to a Delhi hospital after he went on a hunger strike to protest against his “illegal” detention.

 

Earlier this month, Malik was brought to Delhi from Jammu and was later arrested by NIA in connection with an alleged case related to the funding of militant and separatist groups in Jammu and Kashmir. He was produced in a special court which remanded him in NIA’s custody till April 22.

Malik was shifted to Delhi’s Tihar Jail after NIA secured his production remand.  The JKLF chief was taken into preventive custody in February by the J&K police and lodged in Jammu’s Kot Balwal jail.

Malik organisation JKLF was banned last month by the Centre.

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