In a surprising development, Kashmiri leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani resigned from his post as chief of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, Indian media reported.
According to a report in Times of India on Monday, Geelani has named Abdullah Geelani as his successor.
The ailing 90-year-old leader, who has been under house arrest for the better part of the past decade, said in a purported audio clip: “I completely distance myself from the leadership of Hurriyat Conference in view of its present situation. All constituents of the forum have been informed about my decision through a detailed letter.”
The primary reason behind his decision, as cited in the letter, appears to be a few decisions taken by the Azad Jammu and Kashmir-based chapter of the Hurriyat Conference.
The letter said the chapter only represented Hurriyat in Pakistan and was not authorised to take decisions on its own. It said there were complaints of financial irregularities, self-promotion and infighting against some Pakistan-based members but before an inquiry into these complaints could be completed, some members dissolved the chapter itself and elected an ad hoc body.
It also accuses the members of starting a smear campaign against the chapter’s convenor, Abdullah Geelani, who had been appointed last year after India abrogated special laws that granted autonomy to Indian-occupied Kashmir.
In the run up to the abrogation of the laws, hundreds of pro-freedom leaders and activists were arrested and flown out of occupied Kashmir to jails in several Indian cities. A few leaders, however, were put under house arrest in the Valley or were not detained at all.
Addressing such leaders, Syed Ali Geelani says in the letter: “After August 5, the leaders who were not arrested were expected to lead the people, give them hope. Despite my house detention and government’s curbs, I searched hard for you but you were not available. I couldn’t do much because of my health and detention.
“But you had time to organise meetings and publicise decisions through favourite media channels.”
Abdullah Geelani confirmed that Syed Ali Geelani had parted ways with the Hurriyat Conference, but refused to speak about the reasons or provide further details.
Syed Ali Geelani has been a member of the Hurriyat since its formation in 1993 as a political arm of the anti-India movement. He was elected its chairman for life in 2003. Hurriyat Conference (Geelani) has more than 24 constituent parties, some of which have only a handful of members.
Another faction of Hurriyat Conference is led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who has been under house detention since August 5 last year.
Both Hurriyats regularly used to issue statements and protest programmes. But after the clampdown last year, the activities of both came to a standstill.