Hurriyat using ''intimidation'' weapon to silence EC critics
24 February 2002
The Daily Excelsior
New Delhi: After announcing a parallel Election Commission, the Hurriyat Conference has launched an ''intimidation'' drive to silence critics of this move among the separatist elements, informed sources said. Hurriyat leaders, who feel disgruntled over the formation of the Commission, have started distancing themselves from the 23-party conglomerate and are building up pressure with the help of the second rung leadership to counter the move, primarily initiated by JKLF chief Yaseen Malik and actively supported by amalgam chairman Abdul Gani Bhat and fire-brand Jamaat-e-Islami leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani. However, other separatist leaders, including Shabir Shah and Hashim Qureshi, who have openly criticised the formation of the Commission, have now started maintaining a low profile following reports that some leaders of the Hurriyat Conference had started ''intimidating'' the critics. Insiders within the amalgam confirmed that two trusted lieutenants of senior Hurriyat leaders visited residence of a Kashmiri separatist leader in the outskirts of Srinagar and allegedly asked him to withdraw his critical comments against the formation of the Election Commission by the Hurriyat. The separatist leader issued a denial the very next day and withdrew his comments, they said. Hurriyat insiders said though no consultations were held with senior leaders like Abdul Gani Lone, former chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Maulvi Abbas Ansari, Malik with the aid of Bhat and Geelani wanted to move ahead with the process despite feelers from the other three leaders expressing their disappointment. Lone, Farooq and Ansari have been maintaining that there were no differences on the issue as a public posture, but insiders said that all disgruntled elements within the conglomerate were working hard to chalk out their next strategy. In order to make a smooth sailing for the proposed parallel commission, Malik had recently ''threatened'' that if nothing concrete was thought of by the Centre, Kashmir could witness a fresh spate of violence. However, even militants have reservation over his line. ''When the entire globe is talking about the end of violence particularly perpetrated by militants, how do Kashmiris accept that violence could be escalated in the Valley if such a silly idea of commission is not accepted,'' a militant ''commander'' said.