Written byShalini Ojha
On Monday, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the most known face of Kashmir's separatist politics, quit Hurriyat Conference, an umbrella body of separatist parties formed in 1993.
The 90-year-old politician, blamed for bloodshed and militancy in the Valley, said the "current state" of the forum prompted him to take the decision.
He was reportedly unhappy with the "rebellion against leadership" by cadres.
Born in 1929, Geelani has been responsible for fanning anti-India sentiments in Kashmir. He has called for numerous shutdowns in Kashmir in response to the death of militants, at the hands of security agencies, and the demise of civilians.
He won legislative assembly elections from Sopore three times — in 1972, 1977, and 1987.
Geelani has been mostly under house arrest since 2010.
The hardline separatist leader has never been a fan of India's democratic processes and in 2015 openly declared he was not "an Indian by birth," after mentioning nationality as "Indian" in his passport application. Geelani said it was a "compulsion".
Reacting to this, BJP's Jitendra Singh had said these separatist sentiments won't be tolerated.
"Kashmir is an integral part of India," Singh had underlined.
In fact, the mainstream politicians of Kashmir have also chided Geelani numerous times. In 2017, when National Conference's patriarch Farooq Abdullah said Azadi is not an option for land-locked Kashmir and those demanding it are wrong, Geelani denounced him as a "power-hungry" politician.
"It is an irony that these politicians are still following their politics based on betrayal and deceit," Geelani had said.
Responding to this, Farooq's son Omar asked Geelani why he didn't react when Pakistan's Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi made a similar statement.
"Can Geelani show me his reaction to Pakistan Prime Minister, who has repeated many times recently that Azadi is not an option for Kashmir. Hypocrisy is a Geelani trait," Omar had tweeted and reminded Geelani of his father's political career.
Geelani's resignation from the outfit marks a major development in Kashmir's politics.
Interestingly, his decision could have stemmed from the criticism he received from groups in Pakistan for not being able to respond "adequately" to Centre's Article 370 move.
In August 2019, the BJP-led government revoked the contentious Article, which rewarded special status to Jammu and Kashmir; and split it into two Union Territories.
In an audio message, Geelani said he has sent a detailed letter to all constituents of the forum. From now, Geelani said, he won't be answerable to questions related to the forum's conduct.
He is learned to have slammed Hurriyat in the letter over its "cold response" to the Article 370 decision.
Geelani claimed he reached out to the body, but to no avail.
Geelani's letter implies that he was upset with Hurriyat for not deciding on the "next course of action" despite multiple reminders.
"The lack of discipline and other shortcomings were ignored and you did not allow a robust accountability system to be established over the years but today, you have crossed all limits and indulged in rebellion against the leadership," he wrote in the letter.
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