Sep­a­ratist leader Gee­lani quits Hur­riyat Con­fer­ence

Ail­ing hard­liner cites ‘cur­rent sit­u­a­tion’ to exit the group­ing

The Hindu - - FRONT PAGE - Peerzada Ashiq

Hur­riyat chair­man Syed Ali Gee­lani, 90, on Mon­day de­cided to quit the con­glom­er­ate, with­out di­vulging his fu­ture course of ac­tion.

“I have de­cided to dis­tance my­self from the Hur­riyat given the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion [in the amal­ga­mate],” an ail­ing Mr. Gee­lani said in an au­dio mes­sage. He said all the con­stituents of his fac­tion of the Hur­riyat had been in­formed, in a de­tailed let­ter, about the de­ci­sion.

Mostly un­der house ar­rest since 2013 at his Srinagar res­i­dence, Mr. Gee­lani, a crowd-puller, was as­so­ci­ated with the Ja­maat-e-Is­lami but left it to float his own po­lit­i­cal or­gan­i­sa­tion, the Tehreek-e-Hur­riyat. He also split from the Mir­waiz Umar Fa­rooq fac­tion of the Hur­riyat over the ap­proaches adopted to re­solve the Kash­mir prob­lem.

Mr. Gee­lani, known for his hard­line ide­ol­ogy, ad­vo­cated ac­ces­sion of J&K to Pak­istan.

He, how­ever, did not clar­ify if he had re­signed from the Tehreek-e-Hur­riyat.

In the past two years, his health had de­te­ri­o­rated sig­nif­i­cantly, a fam­ily mem­ber said. “No one out­side the fam­ily is al­lowed to see him.”

Sources said Mr. Gee­lani’s

res­ig­na­tion was due to the in­ter­nal feud in the Hur­riyat. It is likely to pave the way for a new lead­er­ship in the Hur­riyat, which faced a mas­sive clam­p­down in the run-up to the ab­ro­ga­tion of J&K’s spe­cial sta­tus last year. Mr. Gee­lani had op­posed the move and asked the Cen­tre to work on a po­lit­i­cal res­o­lu­tion through di­a­logue with the Hur­riyat and Pak­istan.

BJP na­tional gen­eral sec­re­tary Ram Mad­hav also tweeted about Mr. Gee­lani’s res­ig­na­tion.

BJP leader Ai­jaz Hus­sian said, “Other Hur­riyat lead­ers should call it a day and re­alise their mis­takes. In­dia is the only way for­ward for all those who be­lieved oth­er­wise”.

Se­nior party leader Av­inash Rai Khana de­scribed the res­ig­na­tion of Mr. Gee­lani as “a big­gest ben­e­fit of the re­moval of Ar­ti­cle 370”.

There has been no re­ac­tion from the other con­stituents of the Hur­riyat.

The un­ex­pected res­ig­na­tion of 90-year-old Hur­riyat chair­man Syed Ali Gee­lani from the con­glom­er­ate of sep­a­ratist groups on Mon­day, left the al­ready squeezed Kash­miri sep­a­ratists in a state of shock and Pak­istan in a cor­ner.

Mr. Gee­lani, suf­fer­ing from mul­ti­ple ail­ments and tended by two sons at his Srinagar res­i­dence, has been the face of hard-line sep­a­ratism for many decades now.

A close as­so­ciate of Mr. Gee­lani, who re­fused to be named, said his res­ig­na­tion is aimed at both Pak­istan and the re­dun­dant lead­er­ship around him. His res­ig­na­tion comes at a time when the sep­a­ratists’ con­stituency is rais­ing ques­tions over the Hur­riyat’s re­sponse to the Cen­tre’s de­ci­sion to re­voke

J&K’s spe­cial sta­tus last year.

It re­mains to be seen if Mr. Gee­lani will also re­sign from his own party, the Tehreeke-Hur­riyat. Many see Mr. Gee­lani's move as his last bid to play “the pol­i­tics of deathbed” and “ful­fill his wish to die a mar­tyr, who never com­pro­mised”.

From con­test­ing Assem­bly elec­tions in 1970s to is­su­ing boy­cott calls against the same after 1990s, Mr. Gee­lani steered Kash­mir’s sep­a­ratist move­ment and his ideas in­flu­enced both the peo­ple on the streets and the fast­grow­ing mil­i­tant cadre then. How­ever, nei­ther age nor health nor re­cent po­lit­i­cal events favour him any­more.

Mean­while, his res­ig­na­tion has paved the way for his old friend Muham­mad Ashraf Sehrai to emerge as new ‘old-guard’ leader. Be­sides, it could also see the rise of younger lead­ers like Mas­rat Alam.

The tim­ing of Mr. Gee­lani’s de­ci­sion is also sig­nif­i­cant. It comes at a time when the Cen­tre’s hard­ball pol­i­tics man­aged to end the sep­a­ratist pol­i­tics, if not the sen­ti­ment, in one stroke on Au­gust 5, 2019, and suc­ceeded in putting a pres­sure on them, not to rally peo­ple against the de­ci­sion to re­voke J&K’s spe­cial sta­tus. His res­ig­na­tion may give a sense of de­feat to his own sup­port­ers and a boost to the main­stream par­ties to make in­roads into sep­a­ratist con­stituen­cies.

Crowd puller: A file photo of Syed Ali Gee­lani in Srinagar.

Syed Ali Gee­lani, who once con­tested polls, called for their boy­cott after 1990s.

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