July 2002 News

Hurriyat in desperate search of a leader

10 July 2002
The Statesman

New Delhi: The Hurriyat Conference executive council is scheduled to meet over the next few weeks to select its next chairman. The meetings, however, would be in the absence of three of its prominent leaders who are behind bars. But Hurriyat leaders said this would not be a problem. The parties of the three arrested leaders, including that of Mr Yasin Malik and Syed Ali Shah Geelani, could nominate someone else. A major problem, however, might be to find a presidential candidate who would be willing and able to lead the party through “turbulent times”. An amendment in the Hurriyat constitution bars re-election of the chairman but nothing stops the executive — which introduced the stipulation in the late nineties — from revoking it. Towards the end of an eventful two years at the helm of the APHC, chairman Mr Abdul Ghani Bhatt was reported to be reluctant to take office for another term. And there are not many among the Hurriyat hard-liners who could provide leadership to the conglomerate at a time when it is nowhere going to be smooth ride. “Yes, I have been under a tremendous strain (in recent months) due to the developing situation at the global, regional and local level,” Mr Bhatt said. This was an apparent reference to the global community looking at militancy in Kashmir from India’s viewpoint and the pressure brought upon by the USA on Pakistan to distance itself from the “freedom struggle”. Hurriyat strike: The Hurriyat Conference today gave a call for a general strike in J&K on Saturday in memory of the martyrs for the freedom struggle, adds PTI from Srinagar. Paswan for Central rule: The forthcoming elections in J&K “must” be held under President’s rule “so as to restore the voters’ confidence”, the Lok Jan Shakti Party chief, Mr Ram Vilas Paswan, said today


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