Geelani locks horns with Hurriyat, Jamaat over PC issue
24 May 2003
The Hindustan Times
Press Trust of India
Srinagar: Differences in Hurriyat Conference became sharper after Jamaat-e- Islamia decided to replace its firebrand leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani from the executive committee of the amalgam amidst indications that Geelani would form a separate group to sideline the conglomerate if the People's Conference was not expelled for proxy participation in assembly polls. The decision to replace Geelani was taken by the Jamaat-e -Islami Amir (Chief) Ghulam Mohammed Bhat who, in his letter to Hurriyat Chairman Abdul Gani Bhat, had said Geelani would be replaced by Sheikh Ali Mohammed at the executive committee, the decision making body of the amalgam. The health reason of Geelani, who was recently released by Jammu and Kashmir government, was cited as the reason by the Jamaat to replace him. Commenting on the Jamaat chief's claim about his ill health, he said, 'This talk of me not keeping good health is baseless. In fact, I am keeping away from Hurriyat as it has failed to take action against People's Conference which indirectly contested the last assembly polls.' Asked if he was satisfied with the functioning of the Hurriyat, Geelani said, 'Since my release from jail, scores of people have met me and are still coming here...Not a single person has expressed satisfaction with the way Hurriyat is functioning.' The issue of forming a separate group was expected to take some time as some of the supporters of Geelani like Ashraf Sherai, Yusuf Muzahid and Mansoor Alam were still in jail under Public Safety Act. The firebrand Jamaat leader would also try to woo some of the smaller groups within the General Council of Hurriyat Conference. Making his stand clear, Geelani said the UN resolution was only for Kashmir's annexation with India or Pakistan and the third option of independent Kashmir was not there. Meanwhile, People's Conference representative in Hurriyat and elder son of slain Abdul Gani Lone, Bilal, refused to be drawn into any controversy and said replacement of Geelani was an internal matter of Jamaat. It may be mentioned here that rift between Geelani and Lone brothers first came out in open when their father was gunned down on May 21 last year and Sajjad Lone had openly accused the Jamaat leader of his killing.