Breaking his silence, released Hard-line All Parties Hurriyat Conference chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani on Monday appealed to people, particularly youth, not to resort to stone-pelting and attacks on public property as he called for a Eidgah march on Tuesday.
“There should be no stone pelting and attacks on public property tomorrow when we assemble at Eidgah. If people are able to display discipline at Eidgah, half of our struggle is won,” said Geelani at a press conference held at the Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences hospital, where he was admitted after he complained of chest pain in a sub-jail in Srinagar a fortnight ago.
Geelani (84) three days ago refused to leave the hospital and did not sign a release parole offered by the government. The aging and ailing hard-line separatist leader demanded release of all political prisoners and protesters along with him; the demand not heeded by the authorities.
But on Monday afternoon Geelani decided to came out of the hospital saying “I cannot be a mute spectator to the mayhem and killing of young, women and children by the security forces. I have decided to be among the people at this tough time”.
Geelani will be leading special prayers at Eidgah --- a ground in Srinagar’s downtown area when special prayers like Eid is offered every year and has been separatists’ platform since 1990s--- in the afternoon tomorrow.
He appealed the state government not to impose curfew in Kashmir tomorrow.
“Next protest programme will be announced at Eidgah and a resolution will be passed to press India to resolve the Kashmir as per UN resolutions,” Geelani told in an interview to local a wire service, Kashmir News Service.
“I will also reveal details of my meeting with New Delhi’s interlocutors in Srinagar’s sub-jail recently,” he added. A three-member team from New Delhi met Geelani two weeks ago in the jail.
Supporting “Quit Kashmir Campaign” launched by lower rung of leadership like Masarat Alam in the Hurriyat, Geelani said the campaign’s goal is to press for complete demilitarization of Kashmir.
“It’s better India pulls its army from Kashmir now and with some grace,” said Geelani.
He accused the security forces of asking for bribe from protesters in lieu to their release. “I have evidences, if the state government wants to have them,” said Geelani.
Geelani himself is on the shaky ground after masked protesters defied United Jehad Council chief Syed Salahuddin’s plea to go for flexible protest calendar.
Many people, like Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, think the present agitation is leaderless. It will be a challenge for Geelani to consolidate its leadership and control crowds. Releasing Geelani is a big gamble played by the government to discipline mobs in Kashmir.
Moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has also appealed people to organize peaceful protests. “We should not resort to any method during protests which many Indian agencies might try to take advantage of,” said the Mirwaiz in a statement.