SRINAGAR, Aug 11: Senior separatist leader and chairman of moderate faction of the Hurriyat Conference, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has castigated the authorities for, what he calls, is religious interference by placing his hardline counterpart Syed Ali Shah Geelani under continued house arrest.
“Authorities have imposed curbs on Geelani’s religious activities and are even barring him from offering Friday prayers in the holy month of Ramadhan,” he told a massive gathering of worshippers at the historic Jamia Masjid in old Srinagar on Friday.
Both the senior separatists have been heading their own factions of the Hurriyat conference – a conglomerate of separatist politicians – ever since differences came to fore in 2003 over allegations that the People’s Conference – a constituent of the (then united) Hurriyat had fielded proxy candidates in the 2002 legislative elections.
Geelani had wanted action against the People’s Conference, but finally left to float his own party, the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat.
The relationship between the two separatists suffered a massive dent during the 2008 land agitation which erupted over transfer of land to Hindu Amarnath cave shrine.
“Till now the choice of a leader (of the separatists) could never been made,” Geelani had said. “Today, I am asking you whether you trust me. Do you trust Syed Ali Shah Geelani to lead this movement?” he had told hundreds of thousands of anti-India protesters while promising to work for the domination of Islam and to carry ‘everyone’ along.
The “everyone” was intended to include even Mirwaiz who enjoys a huge support in the old city of Srinagar.
After the rally concluded, the moderate Hurriyat led by Mirwaiz in no time issued a statement saying “separatist leadership was not the sole right of one person, but was a joint leadership”
Since then the relationship between the two bigwigs has been marked by only petty courtesies and no serious course-sharing.
At the Friday prayers, the Mirwaiz asked the authorities to lift the curbs on all separatist leaders including Geelani. “Terror and fear cannot suppress our aspirations for freedom,” he said.
However, Geelani’s case of house detention continues to be a mystery. Also Read: Is Kashmir’s Geelani under continuous house arrest?
The matter gained importance after the hurriyat hawk accused the authorities of stopping him from attending an Iftaar party for journalists which he had hosted for them at a city hotel. Police said they had not imposed any restrictions on his movements and “he had taken the decision to stay home”.
“Geelani’s movement is restricted on certain occasions when there is a potential of creating breach of peace and public tranquility by him which endangers public life and property,” a police statement had said.
However the separatist leader denies the police claims. “Police say that I am not under house arrest is nothing but a bundle of lies,” he said.