IN a surprise decision, Syed Ali Shah Geelani on Monday resigned from his faction of Hurriyat Conference that he himself had founded in 2003. Geelani has blamed the constituents of his grouping for not guiding people in the wake of revocation of Article 370 in August last year. He has also accused the Hurriyat chapter in Pakistan administered Kashmir of financial bunglings and pursuing their own individual interests in the garb of fighting for “freedom struggle”. Geelani announced his decision in a short video. However, he has explained the reasons for his resignation in a long letter that makes no bones about accusing his colleagues of the abdication of leadership.
The development has come as a shock to the people in Kashmir. It has also created ripples outside J&K with senior BJP leader Ram Madhav issuing three successive tweets over the development. Some have tried to project Geelani’s resignation as tantamount to quiting politics and which it certainly is not. That said, Hurriyat leader’s resignation has raised many questions. It is an extreme step from him at a very critical time. The decision seems to have been prompted by the alleged absence of resistance from the separatist camp following withdrawal of Article 370.
Like their mainstream counterparts, major separatist leaders in Kashmir were also under detention since the scrapping of Article 370. They included Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, both of whom were under house arrest. The JKLF supremo Yaseen Malik who is a part of the Hurriyat triumvirate along with Geelani and Mirwaiz was arrested and sent to Tihar jail in the run up to August 5 move.
So, Hurriyat was conspicuously absent from the scene from August 2019 onwards. And this was so unlike it’s role in Kashmir over the 27 years of its existence, more so during the unrests when the grouping would be in a driving seat issuing hartal calls and calling for protests. But this time, nothing like that happened: no calls for hartals or protests were issued. Even the few leaders who have not been detained have stayed short of doing it, in the absence of a direction from the top leaders. A few calls for hartal which were attributed to Geelani are believed to have been issued from across the border.
So, people in the Valley were by and large left without any plan of action in the wake of August 5 move. Intermittent protests notwithstanding, Kashmir Valley remained eerily calm. Markets remained uninterruptedly shut for four months. Public transport was off the roads. But all this happened spontaneously without anyone directing it. Now eleven months after Kashmir was stripped of autonomy, Geelani has had his say. It remains to be seen how his colleagues in Hurriyat would react to his decision.
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