Jama’at-e-Islami (JeI) Jammu and Kashmir last Saturday witnessed impactful change of guard. Gh Mohammad Bhat returned as Amir record fourth time. It was after fifteen years that he secured the majority votes: 61 out of total 125.
Considered to be man with administrative acumen, Bhat is famous for JeI’s 1999 decision when it distanced itself from militancy, however, Kashmir observers assert that he ‘restored’ the addresses of JeI members.
Bhat comes from business background but during his school days came close to fundamentalist Jama’at-e-Islami in his native Lathi Shaath village in North Kashmir’s Sopore area.
In early 1960s, Bhat formally joined JeI as Rukun and rose through ranks and files. Majorly associated with the education sector of JeI, Bhat has done BA and Bed from University of Kashmir; however, he has been associated with family fruit business.
After, founder of JeI in Kashmir, Saad Ud Din Tarabali relinquished the top post in JeI in 1985; Bhat was elected as the second Amir. He was again elected in 1997 after JeI cadre faced ruthless state beating. After Bhat was released, he declared that JeI had no armed wing neither it supported militancy, hence, Bhat’s tenure started focusing on organizational building. He was again elected for consecutive second term in 2000.
Following the JeI decision not to publicize its support to militancy, internal differences in JeI setup were open now. In 2003, Nazir Ahmad Kashaani was elected to head the state’s largest Muslim fundamentalist party, a year after, only to give birth to Tehreek-I-Hurriyat (TeH). Syed Ali Geelani and Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai joined it with some other JeI members.
This all happened post 1999 JeI decision which happened under Bhat. He was being seen one who paved way for TeH. The years following saw bitter relations between two organizations preaching same Abul Ala Maududi.
However, fifteen years later, JeI witnessed major changes. Bhat returned. Almost fifty percent of Shoora (Advisory Council) members came fresh. Notably, the incumbent spokesperson, Zahid Ali and present deputy Amir-I-Jama’at, Nazir Ahmad Raina were replaced from their respective districts.
In major development, last early Friday, Bhat leaving behind the past differences, drove straight to Hyderpora and held one-to-one meeting with Syed Ali Geelani. What transpired between the duo was unknown when this copy was being filed. Bhat, later on also called on Sehrai and enquired about his health.
Bhat is back with renewed efforts. He is reported to have told his cadre to support him for Dawah. Major interventions are being dine to JeI run education system, Bhat told a group which visited him post becoming Amir.