SRINAGAR: In a significant development, hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani on Monday resigned as chairman of his party Tehreek-e-Hurriyat but would continue to head the faction of Hurriyat Conference, a conglomerate of separatist groups.
Geelani’s close aide Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai was appointed as the chairman of the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat (TeH).
A spokesman of TeH said a meeting of Majlis-e-Shoora (advisory body) of the organisation was held today during which Geelani announced to step down as party chairman.
Geelani, 88, cited his falling health and curbs on him by government as reason for resigning from the post of TeH’s chairman.
While addressing advisory body meeting of the party, Geelani said from last 8 years of continuous house arrest and restrictions by authorities on interactions with party colleagues has dented the functioning of the party.
“By 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,” he said.
The TeH spokesman said after Geelani’s resignation, it was unanimously decided by the participants to appoint Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai as interim chairman till fresh elections are held later this year.
Till now Sehrai, who is Geelani’s close aide and friend, was the general secretary of the party.
Geelani, who had recently claimed that he had turned down an offer by an Intelligence Bureau official of facilitating his dialogue with Government of India, had formed TeH in 2004 after having differences with his parent organisation, Jamaat-e-Islami and since 2004 he was heading the organisation.
Sehrai is also the founding member of TeH.
Geelani, however, would continue the chairman of the faction of Hurriyat Conference. The Geelani-led Hurriyat comprises at least 24 smaller parties.
The moderate separatist leader and cleric Mirwaiz Umar Farooq is chairman of another faction of Hurriyat Conference.
Geelani, Mirwaiz and JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik have forged united front under the banner of “Joint Resistance Leadership” after killing of Hizb commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces on July 8, 2016.
The three leaders spearheaded over five month long unrest in Valley in 2016.