Separatist leader Geelani quits Hurriyat Conference

Syed Ali Shah Geelani, one of the most prominent pro-Pakistan separatist leaders in Kashmir, announced that he was completely disassociating from the Hurriyat Conference – a 16-party amalgam that he helped setup in 1993.

The 90-year-old leader, who had been facing criticism from Pakistan-based groups for months, attributed his decision to the lack of accountability and brewing rebellion in party ranks.

In a short audio message, Geelani, who is under house arrest since the abrogation of Article 370 in erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir in August last year, said, “Keeping in view the present situation in the Hurriyat Conference, I announce to part ways from the Hurriyat forum. The decision has been conveyed to all the constituents of Hurriyat through official letters.”

In his letter to the amalgam, Geelani spoke about the reasons behind his decision to leave the Hurriyat Conference, as he accused separatist leaders based in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir of being opportunistic and using the platform of Kashmir for their personal gains.

“Geelani was peeved with his associate Abdullah Geelani for his influence to get close to the power corridors,” a source said.

Geelani, who has been a three-time member of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly, said, “The activities of these representatives were limited now to seeking access to assemblies and ministries for joining the government there (PoK). Some members were expelled while others started holding their own meetings. These activities were endorsed by you (constituents) by holding a meeting here to ratify their decisions,” he said in his letter.

He referred to inaction by the Hurriyat members post the abrogation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, and the division of the erstwhile state into two Union territories.

Geelani, who was a founding member of the undivided Hurriyat Conference, broke away in 2003 after he faced opposition from other factions for adopting a moderate approach.

Geelani joined the socio-religious Jamaat-e-Islami as a young boy and contested assembly elections from his native Sopore in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district in the 1970s. He founded a separatist movement two decades later in the 1990s.

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