Top separatist leaders in Kashmir on Monday shared a common platform after five years at a condolence rally held for a teenager killed in police firing last week, leading to speculation of renewed efforts to unite Hurriyat factions.
The Hurriyat Conference, an alliance of secessionist parties and leaders, split into hardline and moderate groups in 2003. The chairman of the hardline Hurriyat, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, head of the rival moderate faction Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, and JKLF chairman Yasin Malik were among those who attended the rally at Narbal, where Suhail Ahmad Sofi was killed last Saturday during protests against the detention of separatist leader Masarat Alam.
“The BJP and other pro-Indian parties of Kashmir are engaged in efforts to weaken the movement. People of Kashmir are united in pursuing their goal,” said the Mirwaiz, who addressed a rally at Narbal Chowk along with Geelani and Malik. Geelani accused the ruling PDP-BJP combine of pursing an RSS agenda in Kashmir.
“There is an attempt to rob Kashmir of its identity. The need of the hour is a well-planned and a well-disciplined strategy. Any unification will take place on the principles of the Quran.”
Sources said Pakistan, through a second-rung separatist leadership, is trying to bring the separatists together. They said with splintered factions set to join hands with bigger groups, the separatist scene in the Valley is headed for a major rejig. Six separatist leaders, who left the Mirwaiz’s moderate faction, are likely to join Geelani soon.
“We are facing an onslaught from New Delhi. There is an attempt to criminalise our genuine struggle. The time has come to unite to fight this aggression,” said a separatist leader on the condition of anonymity.