Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the lifetime chairman of the pro-Pakistan Hurriyat Conference, made a surprise announcement of completely dissociating himself from the 16-party amalgam on Monday, alleging lack of accountability and a brewing rebellion in the ranks.
The 90-year-old Geelani, the most prominent of pro-Pakistan separatists in the Kashmir Valley, has been chairman of the conglomerate since its inception in 2003. He has been politically inactive of late, particularly since the abrogation of Article 370 in August last year which had far-reaching consequences for the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Geelani accused separatist leaders based in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir of being opportunist and using the platform of Kashmir for their personal gains. He made these charges in a letter, titled “in view of the current state of the Hurriyat Conference”, to the constituents of the amalgam.
Geelani, who was a founding member of the undivided Hurriyat Conference set up in 1993, broke away in 2003 after he had differences with other factions for adopting a moderate approach.
In a four-line letter and an audio message to the media, a spokesperson for the 90-year-old leader said, “Geelani has announced complete dissociation from Hurriyat Conference forum.”
In his letter to all constituents of the amalgam, Geelani spoke about the reasons behind his decision to leave the Hurriyat Conference, of which he had been nominated as the lifetime chairman, he said. Geelani, who has been a three-time member of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly, said the activities of Hurriyat Conference members currently in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir were being investigated by the amalgam for various allegations.
“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.
“I sent messages to you through various means so that the next course of action could be decided but all my efforts (to get in touch) went in vain. Now that the sword of accountability is hanging over your heads for the financial and other irregularities, you thought of calling the advisory committee meeting,” he alleged.
Geelani said he was forced by the constituent parties in 2003 to take over the reins of the Hurriyat Conference and was made its lifetime chairman later.
“The lack of discipline and other shortcomings were ignored and you did not allow a robust accountability system to be established over the years but today, you have crossed all limits and indulged in rebellion against the leadership,” he added.