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Hurriyat splits down middle

Srinagar, Sept. 7: The All Parties Hurriyat Conference today suffered a vertical split after 12 major constituents of the separatist conglomerate’s general council expelled its recently-elected chairman and senior Shia leader, Moulvi Abbas Ansari.

The general council, which has 24 constituents, met here this morning and formed a five-member interim committee headed by Muslim League chairman Massarat Alam. The other members of the committee are senior Shia leader Agha Syed Badgami, Ghulam Nabi Hubbi, Ghulam Nabi Sumji and Firdaus Ahmad Shah.

The committee has been asked to contact separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who was recently expelled from the Hurriyat executive, to lead the conglomerate. “We will soon meet Geelani to request him to lead the Hurriyat Conference,” Massarat Alam said over phone.

“In today’s meeting of the general council, a no-confidence motion was moved, which was later carried by a majority against Hurriyat chairman Moulvi Abbas Ansari. He has been expelled from the All Parties Hurriyat Conference,” Alam said here.

Ansari lashed out at the general council, saying “no one (in the Hurriyat) has the power to expel” him. “I was elected by the executive members. The Hurriyat executive is meeting tomorrow and we will take action against the general council members,” he said.

The general council also decided to expel the moderate People’s Conference headed by Bilal Ahmad Lone, the son of slain separatist leader Abdul Gani Lone. It also expelled the Muslim Conference headed by former Hurriyat chairman Abdul Gani Bhat from the executive.

Geelani was removed from the Hurriyat executive after he had asked the conglomerate to expel the People’s Conference from the executive.

Geelani had alleged that the People’s Conference had fielded dummy candidates — in last year’s Assembly polls — from Kupwara district. The People’s Conference had denied the allegation.

However, Geelani would now not have to carve out a new political party for himself as the split in the Hurriyat has made him the focal point of the hardline faction in the conglomerate.

Political observers here say “Geelani has emerged as a power centre yet again, routing his opponents in the battle for supremacy” in the Hurriyat.

The split has also come as a blow to the intended dialogue with the Hurriyat that chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had been advocating.

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