EU Osama snub to Geelani

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By MUZAFFAR RAINA
  • Published 17.05.11
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Osama bin Laden, Syed Ali Shah Geelani

Srinagar, May 16: A visiting European Union delegation has chosen to snub Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani and the High Court Bar Association by cancelling a proposed meeting with them, apparently after they offered prayers for Osama bin Laden.

Geelani and several lawyers from the bar association had described Osama as a “martyr” and asked people to offer funeral prayers for him in mosques across Kashmir.

Although the call had evoked little response, Geelani and the lawyers had gone ahead and offered prayers, the latter on the high court’s premises.

The five-member delegation, comprising EU ambassador to India Daniele Smadja, ambassador of Ireland Kenneth Thompson, ambassador of Belgium Pierre Vaesen, EU first secretary Philipp Gross and EU attaché Anne Vaugier-Chatterge visited the Valley this week and held talks with both mainstream and moderate separatist leaders.

Hurriyat sources said the delegation had sought appointment with Geelani and leaders of the bar association last month for a meeting yesterday.

The leaders, however, were informed only a few hours ahead of the proposed meeting that it was being cancelled.

“The meeting with Syed Ali Geelani was initially planned for May 14 but given the latest events, the EU delegation considers it inopportune to hold the meeting,” the team said in a statement issued to the media, without elaborating.

Hurriyat sources said they had lodged a “formal protest” before the delegation and believed that their stand on Osama was the reason behind the cancellation.

“If they are coming on a fact-finding mission, they should listen to the relevant people,” a leader said.

The delegation, however, met Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chairperson Mohammad Yasin Malik and moderate Hurriyat chief Mirwaiz Umer Farooq.

The delegation also met leaders of the Jamait Ahle Hadees, whose chief Maulvi Showkat Ahmad Shah was killed by suspected militants last month.

The delegation held meetings with chief minister Omar Abdullah and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti.