SRINAGAR: Syed Ali Shah Geelani, chairman of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), on Monday quit his faction of the conference, an umbrella alliance of pro-freedom parties, saying the APHC had failed to counter New Delhi’s efforts to tighten its grip on the occupied region.
India on Aug 5 last year had unilaterally stripped the disputed territory of its special status through a rushed presidential decree, dividing the Himalayan region into two union territories, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. The move elicited worldwide condemnation with Pakistan and China moving to the United Nations Security Council seeking the restoration of the status quo. The held valley has been under a strict curfew ever since.
91-year-old Geelani, who has been under house arrest in Srinagar for several years, accused the Hurriyat Conference of inaction over New Delhi’s move in a two-page letter and short audio message.
“Keeping in view the present situation in Hurriyat Conference, I announce my decision to part ways with it,” he said, accusing members of the grouping of conspiring against him and saying it lacked discipline and accountability.
Hurriyat Conference was formed by various pro-freedom groups in Kashmir in 1993 to provide a political platform for seceding from India in the wake of a freedom movement against New Delhi.
But the group split in 2003 when hardliners headed by Geelani, who advocated Kashmir’s merger with Pakistan, walked out after moderates decided to hold talks with New Delhi and formed their own faction.
Both India and arch-rival Pakistan claim the Himalayan region in full, but rule in parts.