Bhat’s Comeback as Jama’at Boss Is A Major Development

Riyaz Ul Khaliq



Khawaja Gh Muhammad Bhat: JeI New Amir
Khawaja Gh Muhammad Bhat: JeI New Amir

History was repeated on Saturday when former Amir-I-Jama’at, Ghulam Muhammad Bhat was re-elected as the head of the state’s largest Islamist party, the Jama’at-e-Islami (JeI).

The elections for the post of Amir started on August 17 and ended with the announcement of results of Amir’s post today around Zuhr prayers.

Out of 125 votes comprising Numaindigaan (Council of Representatives) polled, Bhat secured 61 while his nearest rival, incumbent Amir, Muhammad Abdullah Wani bagged 42 votes only.

The Ijlaas (meeting) of ‘Council of Representatives’ started around 10:30 am this morning at Jama’at’s Nowgam office which houses the headquarter of Falah-I-Aam Trust (FAT).

It would be Bhat’s fourth tenure as head of the organization, a record second only to Jama’at J&K founder Saad-ud-Din. Last time it was 1997-2000 ‘much talked about’ tenure of Bhat; he continued second consecutive term up to 2002. When Saad Ud Din Tarabali, founder of JeI in J&K, relinquished as head of the organization, Bhat was elected as Amir in 1985 for the first time through ‘Council of Representatives’ votes which was held at Kralpora in South city.

A former JeI member said that there was a group in JeI in 1980s who wanted elections for the post of Amir to be held on the pattern of Jama’at-e-Islami Hind. “Arakeen Ijlaas had just ended when the elections for Amir were held in adjacent room.”

After Bhat left JeI’s Amir post in 2003, late Nazir Ahmad Kashaani held the position up to 2006; Sheikh Muhammad Hassan followed and held two consecutive terms. In August 2012, Muhammad Abdullah Wani was as elected Amir who retires from the post two days from now.

Informed sources said that Bhat joined Jama’at as Rukun (Basic Member) in 1960s from Sopore. Presently residing at Bemina (HIG colony), Bhat belongs to Laathi Shaath, a village in vicinity of Tujjer in North Kashmir.

“He joined as Nazm-i-Taleemat and held various positions, majorly in education sector, till he rose to the rank of Amir,” one of the former JeI members told Kashmir Life who wished to remain anonymous.

A fruit grower and trader, Bhat completed BA and then B Ed from University of Kashmir after his early education from his native village.

Out of its 3677 registered voters as Arakeen and Umeed Waar-I-Rukniyat (about-to-be-rukun), those who were deputed Tehreek-I-Hurriyat (TeH) in 2004 did not cast their votes.

According to an agreement, Syed Ali Geelani formed TeH in 2004 for which JeI would depute its members for its functioning. “Syed Ali Geelani (Baramulla), Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai (Kupwara), late Adv Peer Hisam Ud Din (Baramulla), Shah Wali Muhammad (Baramulla), Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah (Kupwara) and Dr Ghulam Muhammad Ganaie (then Pulwama and now Srinagar) enjoy dual membership of JeI and TeH according to the agreement but it was violated by JeI itself later on,” one of the TeH members told Kashmir Life. “In 2006, then Amir-I-Jama’at ordered his Arakeen not to vote for those in the thus backtracking from the agreement.”

However, JeI Spokesperson, Adv Zahid Ali had told Kashmir Life that such JeI and TeH members can vote for ‘Council of Representatives’ but can’t be voted to any position. “They are just voters; they can’t be voted,” he had said.

In a brief chat with Kashmir Life while being under house detention at his Hyderpora residence-cum-office, Syed Ali Geelani said, “We are voters and we can be voted to any position as well; such is the agreement between JeI and TeH.”

On being asked about the agreement, a former associate of JeI and now a central functionary of TeH chuckled, “what kind of a democracy is this? You can vote but can’t be voted!” “Violations, if any, have been done by JeI itself. They are bound to follow their constitution as agreement has come down from the JeI constitution after various rounds of discussions of JeI think-tanks.”

Geelani revealed that this year he did not get any invitation from JeI Baramulla district for the election. However, informed sources said such members are following a ‘collective decision’ of not voting. “We have been barred from getting votes but are asked to vote; it is ironic,” they said. Amongst the surviving five of the total six such members, Sehrai is suspended from his membership in JeI.

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