Ghulam Nabi Sumji

A letter written by Hurriyat General Secretary Ghulam Nabi Sumji, who fought 1987 assembly elections on Muslim United Front (MUF) ticket from Homeshalibug, seeking revision of his MLA pension has landed him in a controversy and others in dilemma. The question everybody seems to ask is can a separatist, who is close aide of Hurriyat Chairman Syed Ali Geelani, seek pension like any other ex-MLA?

Sumji, 48, who was a successful transporter and forest lessee before joining MUF, had written to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, requesting a hike in his pension, and release of his arrears, citing a recent amendment in the Jammu and Kashmir State Legislature Act.

After his appeal, Sumji’s pension was revised on Tuesday. But soon photographs of his handwritten letter appealing Mehbooba, found its way on the social media platforms, with people questioning the duality! However Sumji defended his decision of asking a revision of pension “as a matter of right”.

“If you look at it (from the standpoint of a separatist), then (accepting) the pension is wrong. But at the same time I have a right over it,” he told a Kolkata based newspaper.

Sumji, who represented Homishalibug constituency for two years (1987-89), resigned as MLA after armed militancy broke out in 1989. Unlike Sumji, Hurriyat chief Geelani stopped taking pension a decade back.

Immediately after the news of Sumji asking for hike in pension became public, all eyes turned towards Hyderpora, the head-office of Geelani led Hurriyat for action. “He is the general secretary of the party, how can we expel him?” said Hurriyat spokesman in an official communication. “He is very much part of the Hurriyat.”

Interestingly, on March 11, 2018, Hurriyat Conference (G) Executive Body held a meeting which was presided over by Sumji, as General Secretary.

After the meeting was over, an official press-note, quoting Sumji said, “Despite all hardships our sacrifices would yield desired results and will see the dawn of freedom set in.”

Referring to civilian and militant killings in Shopian, the statement said: “They (boys) are putting a huge responsibility on our shoulders to honour these sacrifices and take the movement to its logical end.”

After Sumji’s letter became public, a number of facebook pages started quoting his above press-statement. “How can he preach something and then do just its opposite, that too so brazenly,” questioned one facebook user.

In September 2017, National Investigation Agency (NIA) raided Sumji’s Bijbehara residence after JRL threatened to court arrests before NIA court in Delhi.

Tahir Bhat

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