SRINAGAR: The Jama’at-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir is set to enter a new era with the election of Abdul Hameed Fayaz on Tuesday as the new Ameer (chief) of the state’s largest Islamist organisation.
Hameed, a firebrand speaker was elected in a vote that replaced outgoing Ghulam Muhammad Bhat. Hameed is the 8th Ameer of Jama’at in Jammu and Kashmir since its inception. Hameed secured 79 of the 162 votes polled.
Spread across the length and breadth of J&K, JeI has approximately 5,000 basic Arakeen (members) and Umeedwar-e-Rukniyat (about-to-be members). JeI elects its Ameer every three years while its lower office structure changes every year end. These members come from 16 basic units of JeI – essentially the districts of J&K. Starting from its founder Saad Ud Din Tarabali, JeI’s heads have been Gh Hakeem Gh Nabi, Gh Muhammad Bhat, Nazir Ahmad Kashaani, Sheikh Muhammad Hassan, Muhammad Abdullah Wani, and Ghulam Muhammad Bhat.
Party insiders say that Fayaz takes charge of JeI at a crucial juncture when the religious atmosphere in Jammu and Kashmir is charged up. “Hameed strongly believes that Jama’at should pro-actively make efforts to make the unity of religious organisations its forte,” they said.
“I believe he will put in a lot of efforts to make Ittehad-e-Majlis a proactive platform and will not shy away in taking bold decisions towards unity of various religious views,” a party insider said.
Not only has Hameed proven that his leadership qualities are accepted by the party cadre, but also his Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba background serves him well in being popular among youth.
“Fayaz has a huge base among the youth across organisational affiliations, for being vociferous about Kashmir conflict. That will motivate more young energy into the organisation,” another party man said.
Because of Hameed’s hold on the young cadre of the organisation, many Jama’at insiders say that his election as Ameer will give a major impetus to the Jama’at.
“He can control the masses and he knows how to channelise youth for better programmes,” they said.
A party member said that since Hameed has been propagating that “a strong Jama’at should put more efforts in tarbiyyat of affiliates”, the party programmes will undergo a drastic change. “There is also a notion in the Jama’at cadre that Hameed might be able to bridge the gap between Syed Ali Geelani and JeI,” insiders said.
After facing persecution since the onset of armed rebellion in J&K, the Jama’at “retracted” from its stand on militancy in 1999. Since then, it has witnessed internal bickering and, in 2004, under an agreement the Tehreek-I-Hurriyat (TeH) came into being headed by Syed Ali Geelani.
Explaining the procedure of its electioneering system, Advocate Zahid Ali, the spokesperson of Jama’at said, “There is no direct election for Ameer. The basic members elect their representatives who, in turn, elect the Ameer.”
The Arakeen in their respective districts elect ‘Council of Representatives’, who in Jama’at diction are known as ‘Majlis-i-Numaindigaan’.
“Every thirty basic members elect one member to the Council of Representatives from every district,” Zahid said.
On Tuesday, 165 members were scheduled to participate in the election process. However, only 162 took part as two of the members were on Hajj pilgrimage and one was ill.
After the ‘Council of Representatives’ is elected from all basic units of JeI, Zahid said, “An Ijlaas (meeting) of such members is held at the end of such an exercise wherein the Ameer is finally elected along with the Majlis Shoora (Advisory Council).”
Jamiat-e-Talaba chief for 11 years
Abdul Hameed Fayaz was born in 1956 in Nadigam village of Shopian. He got associated with Jama’at in his childhood in 1976 and served various important positions in Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba J&K and Jama’at-e-Islami J&K.
Hameed had been chief of Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba J&K for 11 years and also worked as Secretary General of Jama’at for 6 years. He also worked in different capacities in central as well as district offices of Jama’at.
In 1985, Hameed joined JeI’s district office Pulwama as Assistant Secretary General. Since then, he has been working in Jama’at as full-time worker. Hameed is currently a resident of Hyderpora in Srinagar.
Defence of 35A will be ‘fully backed’
In his maiden speech before the Jama’at’s Council of Representatives, Dr Hameed reiterated that the Jama’at-e-Islami will follow its party constitution in letter and spirit and all affairs including policy and programmes will be framed with the aid and advice of the Central Advisory Council (Shoora). He said that Jama’at has been working for the past more than 70 years in Jammu and Kashmir for propagation of the message of Islam in a peaceful and democratic manner.
On the Kashmir issue he reiterated the stand of the Jama’at that the dispute should be resolved either according to the UN resolutions or through tripartite talks between India, Pakistan and the real representatives of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
He said that the Jama’at will continue to impress upon both India and Pakistan to arrive at a final settlement of Kashmir in accordance with the aspirations of the people. Regarding the special status of J&K, he made it clear that the public movement going on for the protection of this status under Articles 35A and 370 will be fully backed and no one will be allowed to weaken the state’s special status.