April 2002 News

J&K militants accept Geelani as leader

27 April 2002
The Hindustan Times

Srinagar: Militants in Kashmir have accepted senior member of the All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC), Syed Ali Geelani as their leader. ''Militants have accepted Geelani as the leader of the freedom struggle,'' Syed Salahudin, the supreme commander the Hizbul Mujahedin, said. Syed Ali Geelani is the senior leader of the APHC, and represents the Jamaat-e-Islami in the 23-party coalition. Salahudin, who is also the chairman of the United Jihad Council, a conglomerate of over a dozen militant groups, defended Geelani''s recent remarks that jihad (holy war) was the ''only way to achieve freedom.'' ''The jihad will continue (in Kashmir) till the goal of freedom is achieved,'' said Salahudin, who is the ''most wanted'' militant leader in Kashmir and is currently operating from PoK. The Hizbul chief''s remarks came a day after Jamaat-e-Islami distanced itself from Geelani''s pro-jihad remarks. ''The statement should be taken as having been made by Geelani in his personal capacity,'' a Jamaat statement said on Friday. ''Jamaat believes in peaceful tripartite talks for the resolution of the Kashmir issue,'' it said, adding the party would ''readily accept'' the outcome of talks among India, Pakistan and Kashmiris if it was in the interest of the people. Salahudin''s backing for Geelani comes at a time when stark differences have emerged within the Hurriyat alliance, after two Hurriyat leaders - Omar Farooq and Abdul Gani Lone - met with the leaders of PoK in the United Arab Emirates.


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