Geelani camp all set to capture Jamaat hqs on Aug 5
26 July 2004
The Daily Excelsior
Daily Excelsior Correspondent
Jammu: Jamaat-e-Islami, Jammu & Kashmir's largest cadre based separatist organisation and the political thinktank of formidable guerrilla outfit Hizbul Mujahideen, is heading for a vertical split. Hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who happens to be the one-odd political leader enjoying militants' confidence in today's Jammu & Kashmir, is all set to capture the Jamaat headquarters at Batmaloo, in Srinagar, on August 5 next. Syed Ali Shah Geelani made it clear at a supporters' congregation at his Hyderpora residence today that he had dropped the idea of launching a new political party, titled 'Tehreek-e-Hurriyat Jammu & Kashmir'. He said that on the 'insistence of the members of Jamaat-e-Islami', he would call a 'convention of the members' at the Batmaloo headquarters of the organisation on August 5 next. The agenda of the convention, according to Geelani, would be to amend the Jamaat Constitution and remove Nazir Ahmed Kashani as the Amir (Head) of the politico- religious organisation. Geelani had actually called a news conference to announce the launching of his new political party with the name of 'Tehreek-e-Hurriyat Jammu & Kashmir'. A number of non- Jamaat separatist activists were scheduled to join the new party and project Geelani as the leader of all Kashmiris struggling for separation from India. However, in the wake of hectic deliberations with his Jamaat supporters, he was compelled to stick to his old party. As advised by his Jamaat lieutenants, Geelani decided to stage a coup and replace his rival, Nazir Ahmed Kashani, as the head of Jamaat-e-Islami next month. With the support of his Jamaat followers in Srinagar, Baramulla and Kupwara districts, he also decided to capture the central headquarters of the party at Batmaloo. With Geelani's announcement of occupying the party headquarters, Jamaat-e-Islami is now clearly heading for a vertical split. While most of the party functionaries are reportedly supporting Geelani in Srinagar, Baramulla and Kupwara districts, Nazir Ahmed Kashani is enjoying overwhelming support in the party's rank and file in Budgam, Pulwama and Anantnag districts. However, all but one district president and almost all the 25 members of the highest decision making body 'markazi shoora' were significantly absent from the Hyderpora meeting. Prominent Jamaat leader in Doda district, Sadullah Tantray, former head of Jamaat's 'Department of Political Affairs' Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai, Qazi Ahadullah, Hissam-ud- din, former Kupwara district president Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, Srinagar district president Abdul Gani Bhat and Srinagar District secretary Mohammad Ramzan Faheem were the noted Jamaat leaders present at Geelani's meeting today. Even as Geelani got a shot in arm by clinching the support of his old associates in three districts, those who wanted him to float 'a new party free of all traditional shackles' were immediately disappointed. Some of them were seen returning from Hyderpora highly upset. Geelani may lose their support in the wake of the new development but controlling the Jamaat headquarters and, consequently, retaining his Hyderpora properties is considered to be very important for him. Geelani, as well as Jamaat, have been publicly saying that the assets at Hyderpora belonged to the party, not to any individual. Qazi Ahadullah and others speakers at the Hyderpora meeting alleged that the Jamaat leadership (Nazir Ahmed Kashani and others elected last year) were bent upon splitting the organisation. They said that the party leadership had frustrated all attempts to remove differences with Geelani and reunify the organisation. According to them, Kashani and his associates had caused 'a severe damage' to Jamaat as well as to the religion of Islam since last year. Geelani revealed that he had made all arrangements to launch the new party at a news conference today. According to him, over 300 posters of the new party had been printed in Srinagar while thousands more were being printed in New Delhi. He said that, at the eleventh hour, 'delegations from Baramulla and Srinagar' made him drop the idea and now he would be calling a 'Convention of Members' at Batmaloo on August 5. He made it clear that the Jamaat Constitution would be amended at the Convention, which would subsequently pave the pay for the election of a new Amir. The news conference was cancelled as the situation took a new turn late last night. As per the existing system, about 2000 members (Arkaan) elect an electoral college of about 200 delegates which, in turn, elects the Amir (President) and an advisory council of 25 most prominent delegates. The advisory council (Markazi Shoora) assists the Amir in making important decisions regarding the policies, strategies and structure of the organisation. Kashani had been elected as Amir of Jamaat-e- Islami last year, ironically with the support of Geelani, who wanted Ghulam Mohammad Bhat, a moderate Jamaat functionary out as the head of the organisation. When Kashani proved to be more moderate than Bhat, Geelani began campaigning for his removal. He had been calling for a meeting of all the 2,000 Arkaan since the beginning of this year. His requests were turned down in view of apprehension that he could stage coup and engineer new elections to install himself as the Jamaat chief. Some of his key supporters, including Ashraf Sehrai and Hissam-ud-din, were even suspended as members. Commenting on Geelani's announcement, Kashani told the EXCELSIOR that none other than Amir had the powers of calling a Convention of Members. 'It has never happened and it will never happen', he said while asserting that Jamaat had its own Constitution which was binding upon everybody in the organisation. He said that he (Amir) and other 25 members of the shoora had been elected for a 3-year term and nobody could remove them from their position. He maintained that he had no knowledge of any Jamaat member attending Geelani's meeting at Hyderpora. While Geelani has emerged as the most vociferous supporter of Jehadi militancy in the last 16 years of Kashmir insurgency, Jamaat ideologues like Bhat and Kashani have been publicly speaking against the element of violence in the separatist movement. Unlike Geelani, they have been laying emphasis on propagation of the religion of Islam by non-violent means. Kashani had been even kidnapped by militants of Hizbul Mujahideen in early '90s. While the moderates in Jamaat believe that the cult of unlimited bloodshed must end, hardliners like Geelani have been eulogising Jehad (holy war) and Shahadat (martyrdom) as indispensable in the 'freedom struggle'. By virtue of the extremist ideology, Geelani has emerged as the favourite of hardcore militant organisations. This clash of hardliners and moderates has brought Jamaat-e-Islami on the verge of a vertical split. Significantly, Jamaat, till date, is the only separatist organisation which has not split in the war of leadership in Kashmir. All other groups, organisations and alliances have disintegrated into two to five factions each.