Jammu: The advisory council of the 13-year-old Tehreek-e-Hurriyat (TeH), whose chairperson is Syed Ali Geelani, will hold a meeting on Sunday to decide on elections for different posts, including that of the chairperson.
The meeting is to take place at the TeH headquarters in Hyderpora, which adjoins the residence of Geelani. Elections to various posts of the TeH are overdue for more than one-and-a-half year.
Observers describe the elections in TeH as “very important”, for it is as yet unclear if the TeH will be able to hold elections even now.
“The TeH advisory council members are meeting at about 10:30am on Sunday at Hyderpora, where all things will be discussed and decided,” a senior TeH leader and advisory council member told Kashmir Reader. “The elections are due in February and we will deliberate and decide what to and how and when to do it.”
The senior leader remained tight-lipped on whether there was any possibility of a change in leadership. “It is a democratic process,” he said.
Geelani’s lifetime associate, Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai, is the secretary general of the TeH.
Geelani and Sehrai set up TeH in 2004, after a formal agreement with the Jama’at-e-Islami, and currently holds a basic membership of at least 1,000 members across Jammu and Kashmir under the motto: “Islam, Azadi and Unity of Muslim”. The TeH “wants to establish a theocratic J&K state”.
Geelani and Sehrai are still basic members of the Jama’at but Sehrai’s rukniyat (membership) was suspended in 2006 and remains so.
When contacted, a few TeH advisory council members agreed to speak but insisted that their identity be kept hidden. “We are sceptical whether the meeting will take place at all, keeping in view the police detention of our members and activists since Friday,” one TeH member said. “But we are hopeful that we will be able to meet. We will only discussing internal party affairs and not any policy issue regarding our sacred cause,” he said.
According to the Constitution of TeH, said one senior TeH member, “elections for chairperson and advisory council members are held every three years, following which the chairperson selects the secretary general, other central office bearers, and then the district set-ups are finalised.”
“So, elections for the chairperson and advisory council members, which were due in August 2106 but could not be held because of the massive public uprising, were postponed by secretary-general Sehrai,” he said. “And then, hundreds of our members were arrested and we could not hold elections in February 2017. The secretary-general moved an amendment in the TeH Constitution to defer the elections for one more year.”
Another TeH member in central Kashmir told Kashmir Reader, “A lot of issues are to be discussed, including organisational structure. Presence of the secretary-general is important and if he is not there, the discussion will be postponed.”
He said that Sehrai is under house detention, “but we are hopeful that all of us will be able to attend the important meeting.”
He added that there are “issues in the party which will take time to settle… we don’t want things to change abruptly. We will discuss them at length.”
Many of the 26 advisory council members are in various jails, he added.