March 2005 News

Unity Moves Afoot In Hurriyat Again

15 March 2005

Srinagar: Hectic unity moves are on in the separatist Hurriyat Conference to re-unite the two major factions of the Kashmiri separatist political conglomerate now divided between so-called hardliners and moderates. 'We are working hard to close the Hurriyat ranks so that our voice is not lost in the din of confusion and infighting. I am hopeful you shall shortly hear of the results,' a senior Hurriyat leader told IANS here. The leader said the unity moves picked up pace after the return of Syed Ali Geelani from New Delhi a few days back. The Hurriyat came apart in September 2002 following persisting differences between supporters of Ansari and Geelani. The latter is a strong advocate of the accession of Jammu and Kashmir with Pakistan. 'Geelani is not averse to re-unification of the Hurriyat, but he insists the constituents should stick firmly to the cause for which the Hurriyat was created. There should be no problem with that,' another separatist leader in Geelani's camp said. It is widely believed here that the Kashmir Mirwaiz, Maulana Umer Farooq, who is also the chairman of the moderate Hurriyat group, fully supports the unity moves. 'The Mirwaiz hopefully will be the first to return to the united Hurriyat,' a highly placed source in the Hurriyat said. Interestingly, the main stumbling block to the Hurriyat unity moves has been the stubbornness of Geelani that he shall never sit alongside some of his former colleagues like Sajad Lone, the younger son of slain Kashmiri separatist leader Abdul Gani Lone, and senior Shia leader Molvi Abbas Ansari. The main focus of the present unity moves, which are reportedly in the final stage now, is to find common ground between Ansari, Sajad Lone and some other separatist leaders who Geelani detests, the sources said. 'We want bygones to be bygones if we have to move forward. The total advantage of our disunity goes to those who want the separatist political camp to be seen in shambles. If we are for the people of the state, then all of us must give up personal egos,' a separatist leader in the forefront of unity moves said. Asked why shouldn't he be quoted by name, he said: 'No names at the moment please. Inshallah, you shall see all of us on one stage very soon.' As the two groups of the Hurriyat remain suspicious and mistrusting of each other, there is a growing feeling in Kashmir that the local separatist leaders are on a suicidal course. 'They must unite or retire from politics. They have enough adversaries to fight. They cannot afford to commit suicide when roads are being re-opened and bridges being laid between divided families,' said Master Habibullah, a sympathiser of the Hurriyat here.


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