After having been confined to his office-cum-residence, Hurriyat patriarch, Syed Ali Geelani, this week affected some major organizational changes in the Hurriyat amalgam he heads. In PDP’s ‘Battle of Ideas’ era, Hurriyat Conference has been facing continuous crackdown and the major one when PM Narendra Modi was set to land in Srinagar. However, it did not hamper revamping of the Hurriyat (g) which got shot in the arm when Hurriyat (m) breakaway group joined it. Led by ‘prisoner of conscience’, Shabir Shah, the dispelled members formed another amalgam of Hurriyat Conference before joining Geelani.
As Shabir Shah led Hurriyat (JK) could not last long, Hurriyat (g) framed ‘Misaaq-i-Hurriyat’ for those who wanted to join it. Shabir Shah made initiative and Geelani announced it in press conference that Shah, Nayeem Khan, Aga Syed Hassan joined him. The trio had left Geelani when All Parties Hurriyat Conference faced division in 2002 over the allegations of some Hurriyat leaders supporting, purportedly, some unionist assembly election candidates.
The swinging of leaders between Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar groups continued and it had many back end pushes as well. There was a time when Pakistan to affected changes. Sensing tilt towards Hyderpora, people made beeline to Geelani.
This time, the joining of new leaders saw some major developments with Geelani announcing Shabir Shah as new Secretary General of the Hurriyat amalgam while incarcerated Masarat Alam Bhat and Gh Nabi Sumjhi will assist him.
While decision was being made public, Shah and Nayeem Khan remain to be under detention.
Born in a middle class business family of South Kashmir’s Kadipora town in district Islamabad on June 14, 1953, Shah’s political career began in 1968 at 14. His father Ghulam Mohammad Shah, who was a Block Development Officer died in police custody in 1989 after being repeatedly harassed by agencies following Shabir Shah’s political affiliations.
Rise of Shah in Geelani group comes when he already faced heat after former Indian spy agent, A S Dulat, revealed in his book how he ‘managed’ Shah at peak of Kashmir armed movement in 1990s with packs of grapes and oranges. Amnesty International called Shah ‘prisoner of conscience’ for having been behind bars for over twenty years..