Riyaz ul Khaliq
SRINAGAR: The office of the Hurriyat Conference led by Syed Ali Geelani is lying desolate these days. The residence cum office of ailing octogenarian leader at uptown Hyderpora wears a deserted look with empty office chambers. “There has been a considerable fall in the number of visitors,” an activist confided.
“It is only kitchen staff which is present at the office,” an office bearer, who himself was absent from the office, said. “The constituent members of the Hurriyat Conference (G) rarely come here.”
The raids and arrests made by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) have left at least a part of the resistance leadership rudderless.
The NIA has made the raids and arrests as part of its investigation into alleged money transfer for terror funding.
Seven top leaders of APHC have been detained by the NIA after several rounds of interrogation in Srinagar and New Delhi.
After being formally arrested in Srinagar, they were sent to ten days’ remand by a court in New Delhi last Tuesday.
On Thursday, a Srinagar-based journalist said, “It was after a long time that no statement was issued by the Geelani-led Hurriyat Conference’s Hyderpora office on Wednesday.”
“There is no one (to write the statement),” a worker of the Hurriyat (G) said.
“Hyderpora continued issuing directions even at the peak of the 2010 public uprising,” the journalist remarked.
Of the seven arrested APHC leaders, four belong to the Geelani-led Tehreek-e-Hurriyat (TeH) which operates from the Hyderpora head office adjacent to Geelani’s residence.
The TeH is a constituent of the APHC, which is a forum of more than a dozen resistance parties.
The detained resistance leaders include Altaf Ahmad Shah, Ayaz Akbar, Peer Saifullah, Raja Mehraj ud Din Kalwal of TeH, besides Nayeem Ahmad Khan (National Front), Farooq Ahmad Dar aka Bitta Karate (his faction of JKLF) and Hurriyat Conference (M) media advisor Advocate Shahid-ul-Islam. Altaf Shah is married to one of Geelani’s daughters.
Nayeem Khan, whose party is a constituent of the APHC, was suspended from the forum after a Delhi-based TV channel ran a sting operation against him and two others.
“There is no set-up in place now after the arrest of four of our office bearers,” a member of the TeH told Kashmir Reader. “We have not been able to hold any deliberations given the situation we are facing.”
Geelani has been under house detention for most of the time since 2010. Two vehicles with men of J&K Police and paramilitary CRPF are always stationed outside the office-cum-residence of Geelani.
“No one is even allowed to come inside the office,” the resistance activist added. “Even if anyone enters the office, the police personnel enquire about purpose of visit and other things.”
“Geelani sahib has not been allowed to hold even press conferences. The daily statement has been the only tool with us,” the activist said. “Even the telephone connection of Geelani sahab has been snapped.”
The detained TeH leaders are its top office bearers. Peer Saifullah was working as personal secretary of Geelani while Altaf Shah was holding the office of public relations. The middle-aged Ayaz Akbar was spokesperson of Hurriyat Conference (G) while Kalwal was heading the Srinagar and Ganderbal district committees of the TeH.
A Srinagar-based activist of the TeH said, “More than two-hundred of our basic members are behind bars. All district chiefs in Kashmir, except one, are serving jail terms for participating in pro-freedom protests.”
TeH claims it has over one-thousand basic members across Kashmir.
Geelani’s lifetime aide and Secretary General of TeH, Muhammad Ashraf Khan ‘Sehrai’, has been detained in his Baghat home. “He was not even allowed to move out (for prayers) on Eid,” the activist said.
“But we can’t succumb to pressure tactics,” another activist instantly added.