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Geelani, Hurriyat, rift widens
M I Jehangir in Srinagar | June 29, 2003 16:51 IST
The rift between the All-Parties Hurriyat Conference and Jamaat-e-Islami leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani appears to have widened with the latter even considering floating an alternative to the 25-party separatist amalgam.
On Saturday, Geelani held a two-hour long meeting at his Hyderpora residence, near Srinagar, with several second rung separatist leaders on the possibility of floating an alternative to the Hurriyat Conference.
Participants at the meeting criticised the Hurriyat Conference's functioning and said it should not adopt double standards on erring constituents, Geelani said.
"The Hurriyat had asked me to join the proceedings of last week's executive meeting but I wrote back to them that as long as they do not take action against the People's Conference for participating in (the 2002 assembly) elections, I would stay away," the Jamaat leader said.
"The day they (Hurriyat) act against the People's Conference, I will be one amongst them," Geelani said.
The action should be similar to that taken against Democratic Freedom Party leader Shabir Ahmad Shah, who was expelled from the amalgam for disobeying its diktat, he said.
Geelani, however, denied any plans to float an alternative to the Hurriyat, but said he would be organising a series of public meetings in July for which the party had got permission from the state government. The first would be held in Sopore on July 4.
In a bid to end the differences, the Hurriyat had even appointed a committee to persuade Geelani from deserting the amalgam.
However, things seem to be taking a turn for the worse with the Hurriyat on Sunday saying it would not tolerate discussion of its internal affairs outside the forum of the conglomerate.
"We have asked Geelani to come and discuss his grievances with the Hurriyat," senior Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umer Farooq told PTI in Srinagar.
Mirwaiz is a member of the committee formed to persuade Geelani to remain a part of the Hurriyat.
He said the Hurriyat executive would meet in a day or two to discuss the situation arising out of Saturday's meeting at Geelani's residence.
Mirwaiz said efforts would continue to persuade Geelani to give up his demand for action against the People's Conference for allegedly putting up proxy candidates in the 2002 assembly elections.
The issue, Mirwaiz said, was closed after the Hurriyat constituents took action against erring party members by ousting them. Geelani, he said, was welcome to discuss the issue, but within the Hurriyat.
Mirwaiz said the need of the hour was to stand united.
"It is for Geelani to decide whether he wants to float a new party," he said adding he hoped Geelani would not take a decision that could prove 'counterproductive'.
Asked about the impact of Geelani's likely exit from the conglomerate, he said, "It will be very unfortunate. He is a senior leader and a former chairman of the Hurriyat."
The Lone brothers, Sajad Gani who heads the People's Conference, and Bilal Gani, who represents the party in the Hurriyat executive, were not available for comment.
A party spokesman declined to comment on the issue saying only senior party leaders were authorised to make statements on this issue.
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