The Hurriyat Conference on Tuesday has announced Masarat Alam Bhat as the chairman, following the death of Syed Ali Shah Geelani.
The Hurriyat Conference on Tuesday has announced Masarat Alam Bhat as the chairman, following the death of Syed Ali Shah Geelani on the intervening night of Wednesday and Thursday. Bhat was charge-sheeted by the NIA in October 2019 and is currently lodged in Tihar Jail for his alleged involvement in the funding of terror organisations. In its statement, the Hurriyat claimed that the people of Jammu and Kashmir look up to Masarat Alam leadership with ‘great expectations’.
The Hurriyat’s new face is also known to be a poster boy of the 2010 agitation in Kashmir. Apart from him, it is also being said that Shabir Ahmad Shah and Ghulam Ahmad Gulzar have been elected as vice-chairmen. However, the hardline faction of Hurriyat also said that the appointments are temporary till elections are held according to the Hurriyat constitution.
According to the NIA, Masarat Alam Bhat revealed in the investigation that Pakistan-based agents routed funds through Hawala operators and these were transferred to separatists, including Syed Ali Geelani. In addition, he also revealed that there were rifts within the Hurriyat over the funds. Bhat came in the spotlight as the prominent face of the 2010 agitation in the valley, where he issued protest calendars during the unrest that was triggered after the death of a youth due to tear gas shells during a demonstration. The authorities had announced a reward of Rs 10 lakh for information about him. Bhat was arrested on the outskirts of Srinagar after a four-month search. The 50-year-old was widely seen as a successor to Geelani.
Separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s death
Pro-Pakistan separatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani died on September 1 at his residence in Hyderpora on the outskirts of Srinagar city. Geelani, who spearheaded separatist politics for over three decades in Jammu and Kashmir, died after a prolonged illness. He was buried at a mosque near his residence in a quiet funeral organised by authorities, amid tight security and restrictions with mobile connectivity by and large snapped in Kashmir.
Officials said that authorities took Geelani’s body and buried him according to rituals at the graveyard of the mosque under heavy police protection. Strict restrictions were imposed throughout the Valley to prevent people from assembling and there was heavy deployment of security forces to thwart any untoward incident. In addition, barricades had been erected at various places and all vehicles were being thoroughly checked.