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Mufti plays Geelani release card

Jammu, Feb. 9: The Mufti Mohammad Sayeed government marked 100 days in office with the release of former All Parties Hurriyat Conference chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani. The political message could not have been clearer.

The way Geelani’s release was announced at the chief ministers’ conference in Delhi and the fact that a doctor from the Sher-e-Kashmir Medical Institute of Medical Sciences in Soura was flown to Mumbai is a polite snub to the leaders who had dubbed the former Hurriyat chief a “surrogate” of India in Kashmir.

“When he (Sayeed) is releasing Hurriyat leaders, he cannot be charged with toeing the Indian line in Kashmir and that is the message we are trying to convey to people in the Valley,” a People’s Democratic Party leader said.

The chief minister’s political objective is to further cut into the separatist constituency in Kashmir where he has already made inroads by projecting himself as a messiah to the victims of excesses by security forces.

The Hurriyat leader, who was released on parole on grounds of poor health, is undergoing treatment at the Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai, adds PTI.

Security has been stepped up at the hospital where Geelani will undergo an operation tomorrow for suspected cancer in his kidney, hospital sources said.

On Geelani’s request, the Jammu and Kashmir government has deputed Khurshid Iqbal Kousger to assist doctors in Mumbai during the operation, the sources said.

Mufti had been working on Geelani’s release, which became obvious the day before when one of his allies, Bhim Singh, issued a statement and demanded the immediate release of the separatist leader.

Hurriyat closes Delhi office

Three days after its spokesman was arrested on charges of channelling funds to terrorists, the Hurriyat Conference was forced to close its office in Delhi today.

The Hurriyat, that was running the Kashmir Awareness Bureau in a rented accommodation in south Delhi’s Malviya Nagar locality, was asked to vacate the premises by the house owner, police sources said. The owner took possession of the premises apparently after coming “under pressure”.

Members of the VHP and the Bajrang Dal had yesterday demonstrated outside the bureau office and demanded that the premises be vacated. The latest development occurred as Delhi police was contemplating moving court to seek closure of the office.

The Hurriyat had opened the office in November 1995.

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