Separatist Leader Shabir Shah's Party Splits
24 July 2003
The Indian Express
Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party (JKDFP) led by senior Kashmir separatist leader Shabir Shah split on Thursday with its general secretary Saleem Geelani claiming to be the president of the outfit, hours after he was expelled by Shah from the party. Announcing the formation of an acting body of JKDFP at a press conference in Srinagar, Geelani said the decision to remove shah was taken after a two-day joint meeting of central executive and working committee of the party. Geelani has been appointed as president of JKDFP after removing Shah from the presidentship for his 'authoritarian way of functioning and violating the party constitution,' Geelani loyalists claimed. Earlier on Thursday, Shah had expelled Geelani and senior party leader Bashir Ahmad Wani from the primary membership of the party on charges of anti-party activities. In a statement, Shah said he expelled Geelani and Wani for their anti-party activities after a thorough investigation into the serious allegations against them. However, he did not divulge any details. However, Geelani, who was flanked by senior JKDFP members including Abdul Salm Rather, claimed that the joint meeting of the central executive and working committee unanimously dissolved the old executive body of the organisation and formed an ad-hoc body in order to reactiviate and strengthen the organisation. Shah has been always dogged by splits, had to see exit of his one time loyalist Nayeem Khan in the late 90s'. He himself was suspended by Hurriyat executive. Terming the decision as unfortunate, Geelani said all the party leaders and activists at the meeting were critical of the authoritarian way of functioning of the party chief. 'There was no inner party democracy in the organisation with the result it had become subservant to one man. On vital and important issues the party chief never consulted party colleagues and instead thrusted his decisions on them which had badly harmed the image of the party among the people,' Geelani said. Geelani alleged Shah did not deem himself accountable to the party and took 'meaningless decisions'. Even with regard to the vital Kashmir issue the party's 'ambiguous policy created chaos and confusion among the people,' he said. He accused Shah of not being able to frame any programme or policy which could be presented before the people. 'The President has often violated the party discipline and on Thursday when the executive and working committee was in session he did not deem it fit to attend the meeting and answer the queries of the party's top leadership,' Geelani said. Besides Geelani and Rather, others present at the press conference were general secretary Bashir Ahmad Wani and Choudhary Khadim Hussain Poonchi and executive members Altaf Hussain Matoo and Mohinder Kotwal.