Jammu & Kashmir

After JKLF and Jamaat, GoI likely to ban both factions of Hurriyat Conference

Mirwaiz, Syed Ali Geelani and Yasin Malik. File Photo

Srinagar: Two years after the Government of India banned Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, the ban under the same law may be imposed on both factions of the Hurriyat Conference.

According to officials, a recent probe into the granting of MBBS seats to Kashmiri students by institutions in Pakistan indicates that the money collected from aspirants by some organisations, which were part of the Hurriyat Conference, was being used for “funding militant organisations” in JK, news agency PTI reported.

The report quoting officials said both the factions of the Hurriyat are likely to be banned under Section 3(1) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, or the UAPA, under which “if the GoI is of opinion that any association is, or has become, an unlawful association, it may, by notification in the Official Gazette, declare such association to be unlawful.”

The Hurriyat Conference came into existence in 1993 with 26 groups, including some pro-Pakistan and Jamaat-e-Islami, the JKLF and the Dukhtaran-e-Millat. It also included the People’s Conference and the Awami Action Committee headed by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq.

The organisation was divided into two factions in 2005 headed by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Syed Ali Geelani.

Quoting officials further, the report said the probe into funding of militancy groups indicated alleged involvement of Hurriyat leaders.

The funds collected were used for “causing disruption in the Kashmir Valley by way of pelting stones on armed forces, systematically burning schools, damaging public property and waging war against India as part of a criminal conspiracy”, the officials said.

Supporting the case for banning the two factions of the Hurriyat Conference under the UAPA, the officials cited several cases related to militancy funding, including the one being probed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in which several of the Hurriyat members were jailed.

Many of the Hurriyat members of both the factions are in jail since 2017, the officials said.

Among those in jail are Altaf Ahmed Shah, the son-in-law of Geelani; businessman Zahoor Ahmed Watali; Geelani’s close aide Ayaz Akbar, who is also the spokesperson of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat; Peer Saifullah; Shahid-ul-Islam, spokesperson of Hurriyat Conference; Mehrajuddin Kalwal; Nayeem Khan; and Farooq Ahmed Dar alias ‘Bitta Karate’.

Later, JKLF chief Yaseen Malik, DeM head Asiya Andrabi and Masarat Alam were also named in a supplementary charge sheet in a case of militancy financing.

The report said another case that is likely to be cited for banning the two Hurriyat Conference factions is the one against PDP youth leader Waheed-ur-Rahman Parra, who is alleged to have paid Rs 5 crore to the son-in-law of Geelani for “keeping Kashmir in turmoil” after the death of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in 2016.

The NIA has alleged that after the death of Wani, who was killed in a military operation in July 2016, Parra got in touch with Altaf Ahmad Shah, alias Altaf Fantoosh, and asked him to ensure that the Valley was kept on the “boil with widespread unrest and stone-pelting”.

Also, the Counter Intelligence (Kashmir), a branch of CID department of Jammu and Kashmir Police, registered a case in July last year following information that “several unscrupulous persons, including some Hurriyat leaders, were hand in glove with some educational consultancies and are selling Pakistan-based MBBS seats and admission in other professional courses in various colleges and universities”.

At least four persons, including Mohammad Akbar Bhat alias Zaffar Bhat, chairman of Salvation Movement which is part of Hurriyat Conference, were arrested in this case.

It is alleged that the constituents of Hurriyat Conference were “selling” MBBS seats in Pakistan to Kashmiri students and using the money collected, at least partly, to support and fund militancy.

The report quoting officials said evidence showed that the money was “put into channels that ended up in supporting programmes and projects pertaining to militancy and separatism like payment for organising stone pelting.”


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