Hawk separatist Syed Ali Geelani’s claims of BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi sending emissaries to separatist groups for “a commitment on Kashmir issue” stirred a political storm on Saturday.
While the BJP out-rightly denied sending anyone, moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Jamaat-e-Islami chief Mohammad Abdullah Wani too refuted Geelani’s claims in strong words.
“Geelani is misleading people of Kashmir. We didn't talk to anyone. Whenever we talked we did it in public view,” said visibly angry Mirwaiz.
Asking Geelani to desist from making such “irresponsible and baseless” statements, Mirwaiz said, “Geelani is trying to malign others. Our silence should not be considered as our weakness. We should not be compelled to come out on the streets.”
Mirwaiz accused Geelani of creating “dangerous atmosphere” against moderate separatists. “Who does he want to get killed this time?” asked Mirwaiz.
He said there were occasions when talks were held with Pakistan and India. “It should not be considered or projected as sell out.”
“Geelani wants to be seen as the sole conscious keeper. For the past 100 years my family is part of the struggle. We have all made sacrifices,” said Mirwaiz.
On Friday, Geelani claimed two Kashmiri Pandits, apparently Modi’s emissaries, met him on March 22 in New Delhi.
“Modi sent his people to several (separatist) leaders. They asked me to talk to him to get his commitment on the Kashmir issue. I rejected their proposal telling them that Modi is an RSS man and we know his party's policy about Kashmir," he said.
Mirwaiz and Jamaat chief Wani had in the recent past remarked that “Modi can be soft on Kashmir” and “can be engaged with if he emulates Atal Bihari Vajpayee”.
Geelani suggested these statements were issued after separatist leaders met the emissaries. “No one from Modi or BJP met us,” said Jamaat spokesman Zahid Ali.
Meanwhile, chief minister Omar Abdullah questioned the apparent move of the BJP to reach out to separatists ahead of the polls.
“So who is lying SAS Geelani or the NaMo campaign? Easy way to find out – let SASG (Geelani) identify the emissaries who met him on behalf of NaMo,” wrote Abdullah on Twitter.
In New Delhi, the BJP issued a statement refuting sending any emissary to Geelani and described it “mischievous”.
“No one from the party approached any Kashmiri separatist leader. We have not been authorized to meet any of them,” said Ramesh Arora, in-charge of BJP’s Kashmir affairs.