Srinagar, Sept. 15: The breakaway faction of the All Parties’ Hurriyat Conference today elected senior separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani its chairman.
Muslim League chief Massarat Alam, who is also the acting convener of the faction’s interim committee, said 15 of the Hurriyat’s 23 general council members unanimously elected Geelani. They met at the League’s headquarters here.
Earlier in the day, both Geelani and his opponent in the rival camp, People’s Conference chairman Bilal Lone, were put under house arrest.
The state deployed police around their homes fearing trouble at the Hurriyat’s Rajbagh headquarters, where the Moulvi Abbas Ansari-led faction had gathered for a meeting. Security was heavy at the headquarters, too.
Geelani dubbed the arrest an attempt to sabotage their movement. “Intelligence agencies have so far made 10 attempts to eliminate me physically but, by the grace of God, they have failed,” he said.
At his Hyderpora home, Geelani said of his elevation: “It is not a bed of roses but a crown of thorns. I will prove myself true to the great sacrifices made by the Kashmiris. They have sacrificed everything for the movement.”
According to the hardline separatist leader, most of the general-council members had moved “a no-confidence motion against the Hurriyat chairman Moulvi Abbas Ansari which was carried and an interim committee headed by Massarat Alam was formed last week. The committee contacted other Hurriyat constituents also”.
“They have elected me as the chairman and I will try my best to live up to their confidence,” Geelani added. He refused to give any reason for the absence of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front — part of the rebel faction — at today’s meeting.
Geelani took the opportunity to emphasise that Ansari faced the no-trust motion as his executive council “could not fulfil the aims and objectives of the Hurriyat”.
Leaders of the separatist conglomerate, he said, had during Assembly polls last year busied themselves with talks with Ram Jethmalani instead of “going to people and telling them to boycott those elections. Their performance was disappointing”.