Moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Tuesday found it hard to fight the division within the separatist coalition group with supporters of different constituent members raising slogans, apparently to intimidate each other.
Two days after Muslim Conference chief Abdul Ghani Bhat suggested that UN resolutions on Kashmir was inapplicable and time has come to chart out a common minimum programme with the mainstream parties, several members asked the Mirwaiz to come clean on the statement.
In an emergency meeting held in Hurriyat headquarters in Srinagar's Rajbagh area, Hurriyat members huddled together to iron out differences on Tuesday.
Bhat's statement has the Hurriyat divided in two camps. Bhat is being supported by Peoples Conference chief Bilal Lone, while National Front head Nayeem Khan, Democratic Freedom Party chairman Shabir Shah and Mahaz-e-Azaadi head Azam Inqilabi are on the other side.
"Bhat's remarks were outside the Hurriyat constitution. So we did raise the issue in the meeting," said Shah.
Immediately after the meeting, supporters shouted slogans in favour of Lone and Mirwaiz, apparently to intimidate rival constituents like Shah.
But Mirwaiz downplayed the friction. "Hurriyat is a coalition. In forum politics, there is possibility of divergent views. This is nothing new," the Mirwaiz told the Hindustan Times.
Under pressure from constituents, the Mirwaiz distanced himself from Bhat's UN remarks. "UN resolutions form the basis of the Kashmir struggle. Every constituent has to speak in accordance to the Hurriyat constitution drafted in 1992, which focuses on UN resolutions, dialogue and right to self determination," said the Mirwaiz adding, "Kashmir cause is bigger than personal egos".
The Hurriyat chairman also made it clear there could be no alliance with the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party. "These parties are responsible for deaths of people here. If they want to join us they have to shun electoral politics. There can be no alliance in present scenario," he said.
Tuesday's public confrontation was ramification of three year old festering differences within the separatist group over change in the structure of the group.
"Hurriyat is autocratic in approach. No new entrant is allowed. It needs democratization and restructuring," said Khan, once a close aide of the Mirwaiz, who did not attend the today's meeting.
Khan is supported by Shah in the restructuring demand. "We have proposed restructuring. We are hopeful it will happen soon. What happened outside the Hurriyat office today was in bad taste and unfortunate," said Shah, who was behind the bars for 12 years during the past two decades.
The other aspect weighing heavy on the Hurriyat, which is a conglomerate of 13 constituents with nine parties forming its core group called executive council, is watertight pressure maintained by the state government and security agencies.
"Yes there is restlessness within. This is also a result of tremendous pressure from outside. Our leaders are not allowed to pray, make public speeches or express their views," said the Mirwaiz.
The Hurriyat is now working on a counter plan to reach out to grassroots people. "We are in process of restructuring to make it (Hurriyat) more transparent and viable. We need to have more representation from districts, including regions like Jammu, Leh and Azad Kashmir (Pakistan-occupied Kashmir)," said the Mirwaiz.
As part of reshaping the Hurriyat approach, the Mirwaiz said, new paradigms like misuse of water resources, Indo-Pak trade, intra-regional issues and other emerging trends will be part of it. "We will revive and revitalize our connection with people," said the Mirwaiz.