Geelani Looms Large in LA Storm

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Rasheed Takes House Head On, NC MLA Says Hurriyat (G) Chief Root Of All Trouble

SRINAGAR: Stormy scenes gripped the state assembly on Saturday over Syed Ali Shah Geelani as independent legislator En Abdul Rasheed fought a lone and hard battle for the separatist leader against the combined lung power of the ruling National Conference and the Jammu-based opposition parties.

In the uproar, the NC made common cause with the opposition BJP which hurled accusations at Rasheed saying that he was pursuing Geelani’s agenda in the lower house, even as former minister Agha Ruhullah described the Hurriyat (G) chairman as the “root of all troubles in Kashmir.”

Rasheed’s detractors shouted that Geelani had lost public support and no one listened to him in Kashmir any more, on which the former dared the government to release the separatist leader from prolonged house arrest.

The Langate MLA had ticked the NC off for its “double-speak” after senior ruling party leader Dr. Mustafa Kamaal observed that Geelani too had come out against stone-pelting and described it as anti-movement.

Intervening, Rasheed said that he fully endorsed Kamaal’s remarks which, according, to him, were an admission by the NC member that the separatist leader was waging a peaceful movement. 

“But only a few days ago, chief minister Omar Abdullah had said on the floor of the house that Hurriyat leaders were promoting stone-pelting, Today, Dr. Kamaal has answered him,” Rasheed said.

“Separatist leaders, including Geelani, want to run their movement peacefully, but it is the government which does not allow them to do so,” he said.

“Dr. Kamaal must clarify who is right – he or Omar Abdullah,” he said.

NC members virtually pounced on Rasheed when he accused them of speaking in different voices on the same issue and claimed that their double-speak was no longer a surprise for the Kashmiri masses.

“The Hurriyat leaders want to do peaceful politics, but they are being put behind bars and under house arrest,” he said. 

Stung by Rasheed’s words that they had always adopted a duplicitous policy, NC members rose as one in a verbal barrage against the independent legislator.

Rasheed demanded that Geelani and other separatist leaders too should be freed from house arrest like Mirwaiz Umer Farooq.

“Why are you scared of Geelani?” he said.

Former minister and NC leader Agha Ruhullah chipped in with vehemence, saying that Geelani was the root of all evil in Kashmir.

Drawing a loud chorus of support from the BJP and other Jammu-based parties, Ruhullah shouted that Rasheed should not be allowed to advocate Geelani’s case in the assembly.

NC leaders and members from Jammu were on their feet, claiming that Geelani had lost public support.

“No one listens to him any longer in Kashmir,” they screamed.

But Rasheed stood his ground firmly, and countered the verbal assault.

“If you are so sure that he has lost support, why have you kept him under house arrest for the past two years,” he shot back. “You do not even allow him to go to the mosque for prayers.”

“If the Hurriyat leadership has lost support, why are Shabir Ahmad Shah, Nayeem Ahmad Khan and several others still in jail,” he asked.

At this point, rebel BJP leaders Chaman Lal Gupta and Jagdish Raj Sapolia rose to their feet, asking the speaker “not to let En Rasheed violate the sanctity of the house repeatedly.”

Agha Ruhulla once again jumped up to describe Geelani as “the enemy of peace,” prompting the speaker to order agitating members back to their seats.

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