Srinagar: The government on Thursday disrupted a meeting of all constituents of the Syed Ali Geelani-led Hurriyat Conference.
Sources said that Geelani had called for a meet at his Hyderpora residence-cum-office on Thursday to discuss certain important issues, including prevailing political issues.
“The government pre-empted the meeting and the police raided the houses of several of our members and lodged them in various police stations,” Hurriyat Conference spokesperson Ghulam Ahmad Gulzar told Kashmir Reader.
Sources said that heavy deployment of government forces was made in and around Geelani’s house and no one was allowed to move inside.
“Some elderly people including a few women had come to meet Geelani for some personal work but they too were not allowed to proceed towards Geelani’s house,” a Hurriyat Conference activist said.
Sources said that Geelani’s deputy and Tehreek-e-Hurriyat secretary general Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai, along with his party associate Muhammad Ashraf Laya, had been placed under house arrest since Wednesday.
Gulzar said that invitation letters were dispatched to all 23 Hurriyat Conference constituents. “The agenda of the meeting was to discuss the prevailing situation… certain issues pertaining to amalgam were to be discussed,” he added.
A source said that Geelani was expected to give directions vis-a-vis the upcoming panchayat elections. “The Hurriyat Conference is against electoral politics, and today’s meeting would have discussed this important issue and directions could have been issued as to how this pro-India electoral process was to be countered on the ground.”
The meeting assumed significance as the Geelani-led Hurriyat Conference is in the process of appointing new office bearers following the onslaught of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on its members. At least five of its top members, who were also its office bearers, are currently lodged in Tihar Jail, Delhi, after they were arrested in July. Besides, two of its secretary generals including Shabir Ahmad Shah and Masarat Alam have also been behind bars for long now. Shah was arrested in July this year in an alleged money laundering case and was detained in Tihar Jail, while Alam has been booked for 36th time under the stringent Public Security Act (PSA) and has been detained in Kotbalwal Jail in Jammu.
“A five-member committee has been appointed by Geelani to finalise names of new office bearers to take forward the work essential for the ongoing struggle,” a source said. “The process was delayed after one of the men was bereaved.”
Geelani, the 88-year-old pro-freedom leader, has been under house arrest for the last eight years after he led a massive public uprising in 2010. He is on continuous medication, and the Hurriyat Conference has blamed the detention for his ailing health.
A source in the Geelani-led Tehreek-e-Hurriyat said that senior members are “seriously concerned about the onslaught against the party”.
“We have received this feeling among our workers and basic members that the government onslaught from all sides is pointed at Tehreek-e-Hurriyat,” one source said. “Our party has become a victim from every side… jails are filled with Tehreek-e-Hurriyat members; whosoever is released is booked under PSA again and again, and one of our members was booked for the fourth time and jailed.”
One Tehreek-e-Hurriyat member told Kashmir Reader that he was supposed to attend a court hearing in Jammu on Thursday. “But the police did not allow me to come out of my home,” he said. “The cops told me that they will write to court that there was some administrative issue and that is why he was not allowed to attend the hearing.”
“Whenever we get a chance, we apprise Geelani about this selected targeting of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat despite the fact that Geelani is part of joint resistance leadership, and he has expressed sadness and displeasure about it,” the source asserted.