May 2017 News

TV 'sting' Scalps Hurriyat Valley Chief

20 May 2017
The Telegraph (Kolkata)

Srinagar: Syed Ali Shah Geelani's hardline Hurriyat faction today suspended its Valley chief Nayeem Ahmad Khan and his party from its basic membership for purportedly admitting on tape that the separatists took money from Pakistan to fuel unrest. The National Investigation Agency is probing allegations of foreign funding for the separatists, and a team is in the Valley to question some of the leaders. A statement from Geelani said: 'Until the clarification of all related issues... the membership (of Khan and his party, the National Front) will remain suspended.' A sting by the India Today television channel recently showed Khan purportedly admitting that separatists took money from Pakistan to fund arsonists and the stone-throwers who attack the security forces. Khan today claimed the tape had been doctored and that it was a ploy by Indian agencies to defame the separatist movement. Kashmir witnessed a massive unrest last year that began with the death of Hizb poster boy Burhan Wani in a gunfight with the security forces in July. The situation is still volatile and sporadic protests keep erupting. Khan's purported admission has come as an embarrassment for the separatists, who insist that the protests are spontaneous and voluntary. The abysmal seven per cent turnout at last month's parliamentary by-election in Srinagar only reinforced their claims. The Hurriyat's hardline faction had called a meeting of its various constituents at Geelani's home today to discuss Khan's purported admission, but the police did not allow the leadership to assemble. The Hurriyat had also summoned Khan to explain his position. Geelani, as chairman of the Hurriyat's hardline faction, decided to suspend Khan after consultations with other members over the phone, sources said. Forced to act against Khan, Geelani also took a swipe at the 'Indian media', calling them 'biased and not trustworthy'. 'They are working for Indian agencies and as mouthpieces for fanatical forces.... The Indian media are hell-bent on bringing a bad name to the (separatist) leadership and defaming the ongoing freedom struggle,' he said. Geelani said the 'freedom struggle' was indigenous and only enjoyed 'political and moral support' from Pakistan. 'The uprising of 2016 was not pre-planned or instigated by Pakistan.... It was a spontaneous reaction from the people after the martyrdom of Commander Burhan, and during the five-month-long uprising, people braved pellets and bullets,' he said. 'They were massacred and scores of youths sacrificed their eyesight. Our people are not doing all this for fun - it is a sacred sentiment and passion.'