Hizbul Joins Issue With Geelani
27 August 2000
Srinagar: The shortlived ceasefire in Kashmir is heading towards a major controversy with the Hizb-Ul-Mujahideen (HM) spokesman, Commander Masood refuting the statement of the senior Hurriyat leader, Mr. Syed Ali Geelani who had disclosed that to make the guns silent for some time was not the decision of the Hizb''s command council. The outfit has asked the separatist leaders to shut their mouth. Reacting to Mr. Geelani''s interview, which he gave to a local news agency on Friday, Commander Masood defended the ceasefire announcement made by Mr. Abdul Majid Dar on July 24. ''The ceasefire decision was taken after detailed deliberations by the command council at the base camp and the meeting was chaired by the supreme Commander, Mr. Syed Salahuddin'' he said in a statement adding ''I, as a basic member of the command attended all these meetings where it was unanimously decided to announce ceasefire. How does the question arise that it was Mr. Dar''s individual decision?'' Mr. Geelani, in his interview, had said that Mr. Salahuddin was not taken into confidence by Mr. Dar and he endorsed the decision in the interest of unity of the outfit. Commander Masood also refuted Mr. Geelani''s claim that he had a telephonic conversation with Mr. Dar. ''Mr. Dar not only spoke to Mr. Geelani but also met him personally at the latter''s temporary residence.'' On Mr. Geelani''s observation that he only spoke to Mr. Dar on telephone and had asked him to wait for the presidential election of the Jamat-e-Islami, the spokesman said ''the ceasefire decision was to be taken by the Hizb command council and Jamat election had nothing to do with it.'' He also denied that any of the commanders was asked to hand over their arms after the ceasefire as stated by Mr. Geelani. Instead, he said all the commanders were asked to be cautious and not to leave the hideout. He accused Mr. Geelani of creating dissension in the Hizb which he said was not good for the movement. ''Why has Mr. Geelani resorted to mud-slinging against the militant leaders at a particular time'' he asked, adding ''maybe the persons being targeted by Mr. Geelani know much more about him and if they open their mouth it will not be in the interest of the movement and those people. It would be advisable for these leaders to keep their mouth shut'', he said in a veiled threat. He claimed that Mr. Dar had the support of all the field commanders who would implement his programmes. Though the Hizb-Ul-Mujahideen has tried to set its record right after Mr. Geelani''s allegations, his other target, the Jei Ameer- e-Aala (chief), Mr. Ghulam Mohammad Bhat, has chosen not to react but the Majlis-e-Shoura (highest decision- making body) of Jamat is in session to discuss the issue. Mr. Geelani, during his interview, had also accused Mr. Bhat of not taking him into confidence and had equated his statement on ceasefire with those of the Prime Minister, Mr. A.B. Vajpayee and the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Dr. Farooq Abdullah. When contacted, Mr. Bhat toldThe Hindu ''I do not have any reaction at the moment. The Jamat Majlis-e- Shora is in session till tomorrow to elect the other office bearers. This issue will also come up for the discussion and we will let you know.'' Sources said that the Jamat is also discussing the issue of recalling Mr. Geelani from the Hurriyat Conference where he represents the premier political party in the 7-member executive. Both Mr. Bhat and Mr. Geelani have been working at cross purposes for the past three years. Mr. Geelani is considered to be a staunch pro-Pakistan hardliner who had even declared Jehad against India two months back and opposed the ceasefire. Mr. Bhat is a moderate who announced that his party was for a political solution of the Kashmir problem three years ago. He was re- elected chief of the Jamat for the second time early this month which is seen as a setback to the Geelani faction in the party.