November 2001 News

Differences in Hurriyat at peak

17 November 2001
The Times of India

NEW DELHI: Differences within the Hurriyat Conference have sharpened with the firebrand Jamaat-e-Islami leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani criticising the present chairman Abdul Gani Bhat for his unilateral ceasefire offer, which the latter has defended. Though Bhat sought to play down his differences with Geelani, insiders within the amalgam say the cold war between the two has been going on ever since the former assumed charge and spoke in a moderate tone on resolving the Kashmir issue. This has also left a scope for insiders to believe that Geelani might walk out of the Hurriyat Conference and form another party. A hardcore Jamaat leader for the last five decades, Geelani said ''no comments'' to a question about a reported move by him to quit Hurriyat and form a new party. The Hurriyat chairman chose to evade the issue saying cautiously, ''I have nothing to say about the issue.'' But Bhat continued to defend his proposal for a unilateral ceasefire and said over phone from Srinagar ''whatever I have announced is justified on all three counts - Hurriyat''s constitution, its policies and mission.'' Bhat said that the Hurriyat constitution enjoined a duty on every single leader to seek a settlement of the Kashmir issue peacefully. However, asked whether the decision of announcing the proposal for a unilateral ceasefire was taken after discussions with other executive members of the amalgam, Bhat said ''I, as the Hurriyat chairman, can put forward a proposal which could have been discussed threadbare by the executive or the general council''. The Hurriyat chairman said that his proposal was aimed at creating an atmosphere for not only to talk but ''talk with purpose to resolve the dispute''. However, asked to comment on the criticism faced by him from Geelani at a seminar organised by Islamic Students League on the ceasefire issue, Bhat said ''I have no complaints against him as I do not, in principle, deny right to disgree and accept the right''. Earlier this week, Geelani had launched a scathing attack on Bhat at the seminar saying that Bhat was getting too big for his boots. Asked whether Geelani could face disciplinary action for going public with his complaint, Bhat said ''it does not matter to me''. Hurriyat constitution prohibits anyone from going public with his complaint, which has to be raised at the amalgam''s platform.


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