After playing hide and seek with Kashmir police since last night, hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani on Friday emerged from a local mosque in Shopian and used the podium to criticise Pakistan Taliban and asked them to lay arms before the Pakistan government.
Despite restrictions by the state government to address a public gathering, 80-year-old Geelani gave a slip to the police at his Srinagar residence last night. Reports suggest Geelani reached Shopian district, which was on boil for months together after the alleged rape and murder of two women, on Thursday only and was putting up on the peripheries of the town.
“Pakistani Taliban are indulging in unislamic acts. In the name of Islam, they are uprooting values of Islam and are not portraying the true picture of Islam,” said the ailing separatist leader at Shopian’s main mosque, 60 km south of Srinagar.
Geelani has been addressing many gathering of the Markaz-ud-Dawah in the past on the phone and has great influence on militant leadership in the United Jehad Council and other non-UJC militant groups.
Blaming the Pakistani government for the present mess, Geelani accused it of colluding with the Western powers to act against its own people. “I think the only way out for Pakistan is to hold parleys with the Taliban and those who are ready to lay arms should be pardoned,” said Geelani to hundreds of people who had gathered for the Friday prayers in the district.
The statement has come in the backdrop of fresh offensive launched by Pakistan against the Taliban in Waziristan.
On the Shopian double murder and rape case, Geelani accused the government of cover up. “If the Chief Minister (Omar Abdullah) was misled by officials, why is he reluctant to reveal their names? Till date no action has been taken against them,” said Geelani in his first public address after March 2009.
He said the Shopian case was a test for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) credentials.
He threatened the government of launching an agitation against the land being occupied by security forces in the district.
Geelani once again rejected any talks offer saying “the government of India should first accept Kashmir as a disputed territory, withdraw all security forces, repeal draconian laws and release all political prisoners.
He also rejected any attempt being made to resort to bilateral dialogue to resolve the Kashmir issue. “It has to a tripartite dialogue with Kashmiris, India and Pakistan at the table,” said Geelani.