Srinagar, December 30: 86 years old, Chairman of the hardline faction of the Hurriyat Conference, Syed Ali Geelani, was made the lifetime chairman of his amalgam in 2015 which has certainly strengthened his position. Though there was some disagreements from Militant groups but he joined hands with several heavyweights.
After a decade of cold shoulder to him from Pakistan which began in Pervez Musharraf’s era, and then which continued in the PPP regime, Kashmir’s separatist politics took a turn when Nawaz Sharif sat on the chair of Pakistan’s Prime Minister. There were held several meetings of Geelani with Islamabad’s envoy in New Delhi throughout the year 2015. Receiving an invitation to visit Pakistan and exchanging letters with the Pakistani Prime Minister were the sign of a newly emerged Pakistan’s friendship with this separatist leader.
There was one meeting scheduled between Geelani, other separatist leaders and Pakistan’s National Security Adviser, which caused a diplomatic row between New Delhi and Islamabad in August as the two nations called off a high-profile round of talks.
The year 2015 also marked strengthening of Geelani’s position within the region’s fractured separatist camp as several senior leaders joined ranks with him. In a reshuffle in November, Shabir Shah was made number two in the Geelani faction. In the opinion of a former political science professor Noor Ahmad Baba, the separatist group gravitates around Geelani.
Unlike Geelani’s faction which was gaining numbers, the rival group led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq diminished in size and strength.
Also, the year also marked a rare militant dissent that challenged the writ of separatists. It was led by the Lashkar-e-Islam, a radical group formed by several militants who operate in north Kashmir and have splintered from the Hizbul Mujahideen. It surfaced in May and carried out attacks on the telecom sector.
Geelani, meanwhilewhile, made statements denouncing the attacks by the Lashkar-e-Islam as terrorism and called it a “brainchild of Indian security agencies”. The new militant outfit rebuked separatist leaders and asked them to abstain from addressing the funerals of militants, blamed them for sabotaging the agitations of 2008 and 2010 and accused them of “politicking over the blood” of dead militants.