SRINAGAR: In a major jolt to separatist politics in Jammu and Kashmir, veteran separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani on Monday announced his surprise resignation from the hardline faction of the Hurriyat Conference that he had founded in 2003.
In a two-page letter sent to all Hurriyat constituents, Geelani accused some unnamed constituents of indiscipline, non-cooperation, financial irregularities and creating “parallel structure”.
“In view of the current state of affairs of Hurriyat Conference, I am announcing my complete dissociation from the forum. In this context, I have already sent a detailed letter to all constituents of the forum informing about the decision,” the 90-year-old said in a brief audio message.
Geelani’s decision comes at a time when the separatist camp is facing strong criticisms from within the Valley and in Pakistan for maintaining a “total silence” over the Narendra Modi-led NDA government’s dilution of Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution.
Geelani had caused a split in the Hurriyat Conference in 2003 and heads the hardline faction while cleric Mirwaiz Umar Farooq heads the moderate faction.In the letter, Geelani said activities of Hurriyat members in PoK were being investigated for various allegations including financial irregularities and indiscipline.
“Their activities were limited now to seeking access to assemblies and ministries for joining the government in PoK. Some members were expelled while others started holding their own meetings. These activities were endorsed by Hurriyat constituents here in a meeting,” he said. On the silence of Hurriyat leaders after scrapping Article 370 last year, Geelani said: “I sent messages to those leaders who were not in jail to chalk out the course of action. But none turned up and all my efforts went in vain. Now that sword of accountability is hanging over their heads for financial and other irregularities, they thought of calling the advisory committee meeting”.
The separatists have come under strong criticism in the Valley and in Pakistan for maintaining total silence on Article 370 revocation and not doing pro-active politics to challenge scrapping of J&K’s special status.
The separatists have restricted their activities and even did not issue statements after August 5.
Geelani, who is a three-time former MLA from Sopore and joined the separatist politics after eruption of militancy in 1989, is the backbone of separatist politics in J&K, especially in the Valley. He had been within and outside the jails in the last three decades and has been under house arrest since 2010.
He was the only Kashmiri leader to oppose Musharraf’s 4-point formula and is critical of any bilateral dialogue with New Delhi.
Geelani had spearheaded 2010 and 2016 agitations in Kashmir. It now remains to be seen whether he also quits the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat party that he floated in 2004 after differences with his parent organisation, Jamaat-e-Islami.Political observers say Geelani’s quitting Hurriyat is a big jolt to separatist camp and separatist politics in Valley.