Fresh Unity Efforts By Separatists In Kashmir

8 July 2015
The Asian Age
Yusuf Jameel

Srinagar: A serious effort is under way to unite different factions of Kashmir's separatist Hurriyat Conference to 'show a cohesive face of resistance'. Insiders say the attempt, that also has Pakistan's backing, is aimed at forming a new grouping of not only the three existing Hurriyat factions but also to take other separatist outfits on board. If this move succeeds, octogenarian separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani will become chief patron of the new amalgam while Kashmir's chief Muslim cleric Mirwaiz Umar Farooq will be its chairman. Other key separatist leaders, including Shabir Ahmed Shah, will also be given important assignments. Mr Geelani and Mr Farooq now head rival factions of the Hurriyat, while Mr Shah, after quitting the Mirwaiz-led faction, played a crucial role in launching a third faction last year. Sources said that besides growing pressure from within the 'azadi' camp, Islamabad had been insisting on the unification of the Kashmiri separatist groups, particularly the Hurriyat factions. But all such entreaties found few takers.