Of Geelani’s exit, Hurriyat’s activities and one year of Article 370 abrogation

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Srinagar: Marginalized Hurriyat Conference is trying to find its feet again in the new political climate post abrogation of Article 370.

For the last one year, both factions of Hurriyat Conference have chosen to remain silent fearing arrest of their leaders under terror charges. However, the exit of Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani has opened a can of worms and exposed the rot in the separatist conglomerate.

Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) has met a silent death. Its founding member and JKLF chief Mohammad Yasin Malik was arrested on February 22 last year and shifted to Tihar Jail. Later JKLF was banned by the central government.

Similarly, Hurriyat (M) chief Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was placed under house arrest and he has chosen not to issue any statement post abrogation of Article 370. Geelani with his frail health has not been able to run the show with most of his leaders either jailed or not ready to bite the bullet.

 With Centre banning Jamaat-e-Islami and JKLF, the focus has shifted on Hurriyat. Fearing a ban on the Hurriyat factions, the leaders chose to remain silent and play ball.

But Geelani’s stinging remarks against the leaders involved in financial misappropriation has given a handle to his detractors. “Now you have felt the heat of being questioned. The veil is slipping off your financial irregularities and you fear to lose your chairs, you have started to convene meetings and support an unconstitutional decision thereby setting a strange example of unity,” Geelani said in a letter addressed to leaders of the conglomerate.

Kashmir had always been murmuring about the five-star separatism by leaders. Swanky cars, business class travels, outside state assets,  foreign junkets, business deals coupled with arrogance was the hallmark of separatists. But no one was ready to question. Those questioning were dubbed “anti-movement or informers”. 

“Performance and mismanagement of this forum were repeatedly ignored by dubbing them as ‘acts in the larger interest of the movement’.  The pressure by government authorities, persistent arrests, financial issues, and personal weaknesses, never allowed us to set up a strict system of accountability in APHC,” said Geelani, stating what common man on the streets was feeling for all these years.

Feeling the sky tumbling down, some Hurriyat leaders have suddenly woken up and started showing their presence. It started with two leaders Professor Abdul Gani Bhat and Bilal Gani Lone visiting ailing leader and former Hurriyat chief Moulana Abbaas Ansari. It was for the first time since August 5, the leaders chaired any meeting and issued a policy statement. 

“All APHC members at the meeting reiterated APHC‘s basic stand that the dispute of Jammu and Kashmir has to be resolved peacefully among the three stakeholders –India, Pakistan, and people of J&K. Dialogue among the three stakeholders are the best alternative method to resolve the issue that APHC has consistently advocated and even participated in,” the leaders said in a statement.

What has intrigued people is that the sabre-rattling has come at a time when the abrogation of Article 370 completes one year. 

Sources said Pakistan is not happy with the existing leadership in Kashmir. Likewise, Kashmiri leaders across the Line of Control too are peeved with the leadership for failing the people. Sources said there is a likelihood of new leadership emerging on the scene to carry forward separatist agenda.

Sources said agencies are keeping a close tab on the developments following inputs that some new faces may emerge to replace the old guard and deadwood. “Let us wait and watch,” said an officer.

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