On Wednesday afternoon, the road leading to the residence-cum-office of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani in Srinagar wore a deserted look. Outside, the policeman inside a bunker-type vehicle, with a CCTV camera fitted on to it, scanned every passerby coming towards the residence of the octogenarian leader who has been mostly confined to this house since 2010 by the state government.
“No one comes here these days,” the policeman on duty said from inside the stationed vehicle. “Not even his relatives visit this place now. It has never been peaceful like this.”
The building, owned by Jamaat-e-Islami, has been the official address of the ailing leader for nearly two decades. But for the last seven years, it has been turned into his prison. “Barring some journalists, the members of his group hardly come to visit him and inside, there is only Geelani, his wife and a cook,” the policeman said.
The raids carried out by the National Investigation Agency probing the “terror funding” in Kashmir have created fear psychosis among the workers of both factions of Hurriyat Conference, so much so that there is no one to take charge of the positions left vacant after the arrest of leaders from both factions of Hurriyat Conference.
Geelani’s lifetime aide, Muhammad Ashraf Khan, has been detained at his home in Bhagat locality of Srinagar. Peer Saifullah, personal secretary of Geelani, and Altaf Shah, who was holding the office of public relations, have been arrested. Ayaz Akbar, the spokesperson, and Mehrajuddin Kalwal, who heads the Hurriyat's district offices in Srinagar and Ganderbal, have also been arrested.
Since the raids started, seven top leaders have been detained by the NIA after several rounds of interrogation in Srinagar and New Delhi. After being formally arrested in Srinagar, they were sent to ten days’ remand by a court in New Delhi.
Geelani has been left with no one and is acting without the support of anyone. Hardly anyone dares to enter his office these days. What is surprising is that no one is ready to take the role of the people who have been arrested, fearing detention by the investigating agencies.
The National Investigation Agency had summoned Geelani's second son, Nassem Geelani, a university professor too in the “terror funding” case. On Wednesday, he was supposed to address a press conference in Srinagar but police arrived at the local hotel and the junior Geelani did not reach the venue as well.
Both sons of Geelani, Naeem Geelani and Naseem Geelani, have been summoned by the investigative agency. The agency on Monday raided the ancestral home of a Jammu advocate Devender Singh Behal, who was arrested a day earlier over his alleged links with Geelani.
The moderate faction of the Hurriyat Conference is also facing the heat as well as the shortage of men, with its main spokesperson, Shahid-ul-Islam, who is also the political adviser of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, arrested by NIA last week. Outside the house of Mirwaiz, policemen stood guard at the gate, refusing entry to strangers.
Mirwaiz said on Wednesday that the "Delhi-based media" was carrying out a smear campaign against the Hurriyat leadership at the behest of the government through “falsehoods and distortion of facts”, attempting to vitiate the atmosphere in India against the leadership.
“One cannot argue or engage with lies, especially when propaganda is used as a war weapon by a mighty adversary who controls all the resources to do so,” Mirwaiz, the chairman of the moderate faction of Hurriyat Conference, said in a statement.
Geelani claims to have thousands of basic members of the party with more than two hundred behind the bars. Almost all the district chiefs are serving jail terms for participating in pro-freedom protests and a few, who were not arrested, have either disappeared or are not showing up at Geelani's residence.
On Wednesday evening, Geelani released a 25-word statement over the killing of civilians in Pulwama district. The statements by Geelani have always been laden with historical background and are usually long and verbose. This statement lacked all those qualities.
“The reason that there are no long statements these days is because there is no one to write them. Geelani saheb is not keeping well and his associates have either been put behind bars or are detained in their homes,” Ghulam Hassan, a worker of Geelani’s Hurriyat Conference, said.
Updated Date: Aug 03, 2017 07:31 AM