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HindustanTimes Fri,21 Nov 2014

Geelani's seminar stopped again, civil society seeks political space for all

Peerzada Ashiq, Hindustan Times  Srinagar , July 18, 2013
First Published: 17:50 IST(18/7/2013) | Last Updated: 17:51 IST(18/7/2013)

The government has decided not to lower guard on the movement, activities and Friday prayers of 83-year-old hawk separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who is accused of fomenting trouble by the ruling National Conference.

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The authorities, on Monday, beefed up security around Hurriyat chairman Geelani's uptown residence of Hyderpora and disallowed participants from attending a seminar organised by the Hurriyat.

"A huge contingent of the policemen was deployed at the entry of the lane. It prevented the media and participants from moving ahead," alleged Hurriyat spokesman Ayaz Akbar.

Ironically, Geelani had called for a seminar to pay tributes and commemorate the martyrs of the July 13, 1931, uprising the 'Martyrs Day' which is a gazetted holiday in the state and all mainstream political parties observe the day by paying tributes at the graves of the martyrs. Senior civil society members were invited by the Hurriyat to throw light on the 1931 incident.

"There was no law and order issue involved or apprehensions about the same, but the authorities without any reason and logic stopped us from organising the seminar," said Akbar.

Besides barring Geelani from congregational Friday prayers for 19 times, Monday's ban on organising a seminar was third such attempt this year.

The separatist amalgam has already knocked the doors of the court. "An appeal, challenging frequent detentions, has been moved in the high court praying to announce its judgment, which was reserved in June. It is because of this that police have detained Geelani without any justification or constitutional or administrative order," said Akbar.

Geelani emerged a key separatist figure during the 2008, 2009 and 2010 street agitations. He steered the 2010 agitation and issued protest calendars for three months. Chief minister Omar Abdullah recently clarified on Geelani's frequent detention. "The only time

Geelani faces any restriction on his activities is when he tries to incite trouble post Friday prayers.Otherwise where do we stop him?"

"Whenever I have told the police that he be allowed to carry out his normal Friday activities, he ends up going to the Masjid catching an audience and making a provocative speech. He provokes youths to throw stones and disappears from the spot," said the chief minister.

However, a blanket ban on Geelani's Friday prayers and seminars has civil society activists concerned about "shrinking democratic space".

 


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