The Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, the extremist Hurriyat Conference faction led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, today removed the sign from the group’s headquarters at the leader’s residence in the Hyderpora area of Srinagar. The development came amid indications that both the moderate and hard blocs of the separatist entity could soon be banned by the Center.
“They removed the signs themselves for fear of action,” said a senior government official, adding that the ban would fall under Section 3(1) of the strict Prevention of Illegal Activities Act. On the basis of this article of the Act, if the central government is of the opinion that an association is or has become an illegal association, it can be regarded as illegal.
“A proposal has been submitted in accordance with the Center for Terrorism’s zero-tolerance policy,” the official said.
In June, the Union’s Home Affairs Minister, Amit Shah, asked stakeholders active in the Kashmir Valley to keep an eye on rising radicalisation. Following this, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) carried out a number of raids in Jammu and Kashmir.
To support its plea for a ban, the Center has attached several cases under investigation by the NIA regarding terrorist financing. According to the Union Ministry of the Interior, many second-class cadres of both factions have been imprisoned since 2017.
Among them are Altaf Ahmed Shah, son-in-law of Mr. Geelani, along with his close associate Ayaz Akbar, the faction spokesman, businessman Zahoor Ahmed Watali, Peer Saifullah, and the moderate spokesman of the Hurriyat faction Shahid-ul-Islam. .
The All-Party Hurriyat Conference emerged in 1993 with 26 groups, including some pro-Pakistani and banned groups such as the Jamaat-e-Islami, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) and the Dukhtaran-e-Millat. It also included the People’s Conference and the Awami Action Committee headed by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq.
The separatist group fell into two factions in 2005, with the moderates led by the Mirwaiz and the hardliners by Mr Geelani. In 2019, the Center banned the Jamaat-e-Islami and the JKLF under UAPA.
Jammu and Kashmir police recently arrested four separatist leaders, including some Hurriyat voters, for “selling” Pakistani MBBS seats to Kashmiri students and using that money to support and finance terrorism.