Moderate separatist Hurriyat headed by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq is on the brink of second division in two years with six constituent members threatening to quit the amalgam to the chagrin of their handlers across the border.
Six moderate Hurriyat constituents --- Salvation Movement chairman Zaffar Akbar Bhat, Muslim League chairman Hakeem Abdul Rashid, Kashmir Freedom Front chairman Syed Bashir Andrabi, National Peoples Party chairman Syed Saleem Geelani, Peoples League chief Sheikh Yaqoob and Muslim Khawateen Markaz chairperson Yasmeen Raja --- have expressed concern over the alleged breach of the Hurriyat constitution by the top brass and threatened to part ways.
"The Mirwaiz along with his core group are advocating secret talks and even bilateralism quite contrary to the 1993 constitution... A few leaders consider the movement as their personal property," one of the rebel members was quoted by the local media on Sunday.
However, when contacted by the Hindustan Times, Mirwaiz's spokesman said, "These members are keen to be made part of the executive council. Regarding the Hurriyat constitution, they never expressed any disagreement."
All Parties Hurriyat Conference, constituted in 1993, was a conglomerate to accommodate different political separatist groups.
In 2003, the Hurriyat was split between Mirwaiz and Syed Ali Geelani following a controversy over polls being contested by one of the constituent members.
The moderate Hurriyat saw another division in 2013 when senior separatist leaders Shabir Ahmad Shah, Nayeem Ahmad Khan, Mohammad Azam Inqlabi and Mohammad Yousuf Naqash left the Mirwaiz to have their own faction.
Sources said the constituents threatening to leave the Mirwaiz faction, though no formal move made yet, are general council members right now. The Hurriyat has two-tier system and these members want to be members of the executive council, which is the top body.
Joining the executive council will give more leverage to the second-rung separatists to directly participate in the decision making and spending of money, said sources.
At present, the Hurriyat executive members include chairman Mirwaiz, Peoples Conference chief Bilal Lone, Muslim Conference head Prof Abdul Ghani Bhat and Ittihadul Muslimeen head Abbas Ansari.
Taking on rebels head-on, the spokesman said, "There is definitely more than meets the eye and very soon the actual reason of their quitting will be known to all."
The Mirwaiz's Hurryat reiterated that his faction "is the inheritor of the legacy of sacrifices made by people for J&K."
The apparent division goes against Pakistan's efforts to unite the Hurriyat factions. Sources said the separatist offices in Pakistan's capital Islamabad too have seen division, making it hard for handlers to function with them.
Pakistan in the past was closely pushing separatist Shah to unite all the factions of Hurriyat, including moderates and hardliners.
However, the efforts failed because of deepening divide fuelled by personality egos. Each Hurriyat faction briefs Pakistan separately in New Delhi during their meeting with its high commission officials.
Sources said the fresh rebel leaders might join the Shah's Hurriyat faction, which is getting closer to the Geelani faction with each passing day.