Hizb Backs Sehrai’s Name To Replace Geelani, Says Won’t Oppose Municipal Polls In Kashmir23 November 2011
The Hindustan Times
Srinagar: Kashmir militancy’s fountainhead United Jehad Council’s chief Syed Salahuddin has thrown his weight behind senior Jamaat-e-Islami leader Ashraf Sehrai for heading the Hurriyat in the future and ruled out any militant opposition to the upcoming local bodies elections in the state. “If there is any vacuum, then there is Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai. Nobody can forget his sacrifice… though Hurriyat has Majlis-e-Shoora (supreme council) with its own constitution and way of electing leadership,” Salahuddin told a local news agency Kashmir News Service in an interview on Thursday. Sehrai is from old Jamaat cadre and, at present, behind the bars for galvanizing street protests in 2010. Indicating difference of opinion between Salahuddin, who also heads Hizbul Mujahideen, and hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the former minced no words in ruling out any militant opposition to the upcoming local bodies’ polls in the state. “Kashmiris have a viewpoint about panchayat and municipal polls, which is that they are held for running the administrative affairs at local level. For them, it is not necessary to take an oath of allegiance towards Indian Constitution. This is neither a matter of concern for us and nor we pay any attention towards it,” said the Hizb chief. Salahuddin’s view point is in contrast to Geelani’s boycott call issued against panchayat polls held earlier this year. The Hizb move might preempt Geelani from issuing any boycott call in the upcoming local bodies’ polls. Pledging to continue to carry out “indigenous armed struggle” as UJC head, Salahuddin reiterated his displeasure over Pakistan’s move to grant most favoured status to India. “The move tantamount to rubbing salt against wounds of Kashmiris. The status will give economic and political supremacy to India, which can cause hindrance in resolution of Kashmir. It is also against Pakistan’s national integrity,” said Salahuddin. Pakistan-occupied Kashmir based militant groups, including Jash-e-Muhammad and Lashkar-e-Tayyeba, have opposed MFN status to India. Downplaying the Armed Forces Special Powers (AFSPA) debate, the Hizb chief said: “New Delhi is giving an impression that (chief minister) Omar Abdullah’s announcement is under consideration to throw weight behind the government.” He said Abdullah has no position or importance to revoke the draconian law entirely or in phased manner. “The Act was imposed on the recommendations of forces to give them more powers for killing people,” said Hizb chief.