3 Top Separatists Join Geelani Group

9 September 2015
Times of India
M Saleem Pandit

Srinagar: Three seasoned Kashmiri separatists, Shabir Shah, Nayeem Ahmed Khan, and Agha Syed Hasan, joined their parties with hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani's Hurriyat conference here on Wednesday. The move is considered to be their attempt to contest their own growing irrelevance, with separatist space increasingly occupied by radical militants waving Islamic State flags in the state. Shabir's Freedom Party, Nayeem's National Front and Agha Syed Hasan's Anjuman-e-Shar-e-Shian were welcomed by Geelani into his fold, later addressing a press conference at his Hyderpora residence. 'My doors are open for everyone who believes in unity among pro-freedom camp and want to strengthen it,' Geelani told reporters. 'The NC and PDP are responsible for the bloodshed of Kashmiris. India and its puppet government in the state are fleecing the people in the name of development,' Geelani said, adding, 'Oppressed people are fed doses of development like wine to keep them inebriated, while in free societies development is a spontaneous process.' Chief minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed's political advisor Waheeduddin Parra has said growing radicalization in Kashmir is not a threat to mainstream political parties, but to the separatists. The separatists had received a huge setback during the 2014 assembly elections, which witnessed nearly 80% polling, even on seats where BJP fielded its candidates for the first time. 'The 2014 polls exposed the Hurriyat's influence as negligible, with people coming out in large numbers to defy Hurriyat's call for boycott. People even campaigned for BJP candidates in large numbers,' said a resident of Srinagar's Jawahir Nagar. Shabir said it was on June 19, 2008, that unity efforts among pro-freedom camps began. 'Then, in 2014, Geelani constituted a team for unity among Hurriyat constituents and it met various organisations and factions of the Hurriyat,' Shabir said. It was pointed out by an observer that efforts at unification have been on for the last seven years precisely because there was never any agreement among them, and now that the separatists are facing existential threat, they are trying to put up a united face. Shabir said, 'When anti-Kashmir people from Nagpur to Srinagar are getting one, there's a need of having unity based on strength and common ideology was the need of the hour.' Nayeem said he will invite other separatists to unite under Geelani. Both Shabir and Nayeem had launched Hurriyat JK last year after differences cropped up with moderate Hurriyat chief Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. Agha Hassan was expelled from moderate Hurriyat for 'maligning' the image of the amalgam days after he expressed his 'dissatisfaction' over its functioning in June this year. Hassan said he joined hands with Geelani for larger benefit of Kashmiri nation and of freedom movement.