The Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, the extremist Hurriyat Conference faction led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, today removed its signboard at the group’s head office at its leader’s residence in Srinagar’s Hyderpora area. The development came amid indications that both the moderate and hard-line blocs of the separatist entity could soon be banned by the Centre.
“They themselves removed the boards fearing action,” a senior government official said, adding that the ban would be under Section 3 (1) of the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Under this section of the Act, if the Central government is of the opinion that any association is, or has, become an unlawful association, it may be notified as unlawful.
“A proposal has been mooted as per the Centre’s policy of zero tolerance for terrorism,” the official said.
In June, Union Home Minister Amit Shah asked stakeholders operating in Kashmir Valley to keep a check on growing radicalisation. Following this, a number of raids were carried out in Jammu and Kashmir by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
To back its case for a ban, the Centre has annexed several cases being probed by NIA related to terror funding. Many second-rung cadres of both factions are in jail since 2017, according to the Union Home Ministry.
Among these are Altaf Ahmed Shah, son-in-law of Mr Geelani, along with the latter’s close aide Ayaz Akbar — the faction’s spokesperson — businessman Zahoor Ahmed Watali, Peer Saifullah, and the moderate Hurriyat faction’s spokesperson Shahid-ul-Islam.
The All-Party Hurriyat Conference came into existence in 1993 with 26 groups, including some pro-Pakistan and banned outfits such as the Jamaat-e-Islami, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), and the Dukhtaran-e-Millat. It also included the People’s Conference and the Awami Action Committee headed by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq.
The separatist group into two factions in 2005 with the moderates being led by the Mirwaiz and the hard-liners by Mr Geelani. In 2019, the Centre banned the Jamaat-e-Islami and the JKLF under UAPA.
The Jammu and Kashmir police recently arrested four separatist leaders, including some Hurriyat constituents, for “selling” Pakistani MBBS seats to Kashmiri students and using that money to support and fund terrorism.