J&K: Mirwaiz Issues Gag Order as Hurriyat Rift Widens

J&K: Mirwaiz Issues Gag Order as Hurriyat Rift Widens
Cracks in the moderate Hurriyat Conference widened today with supporters of rival groups chanting slogans against each other even as chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq issued a gag order on amalgam constituents from airing differences in public.

Soon after the Executive Committee meeting of the Hurriyat ended, supporters of the Hurriyat chairman and executive council member Bilal Lone shouted slogans against another executive council member Shabir Ahmad Shah.

Shah's supporters retaliated raising slogans against the Mirwaiz and Lone.

The ruckus took place when the Mirwaiz was addressing a press conference at the Hurriyat office at Raj Bagh.

Trying to restore calm, the Mirwaiz warned the warring groups against going public saying all the differences among constituent parties should be discussed within the Hurriyat forum.

"I am issuing summons to all members to talk within the Hurriyat ambit. If they have any individual or organisational thinking, that should be discussed within the Hurriyat and not in front of the people," he said.

However, as soon as Shah, who heads Democratic Freedom Party, boarded his vehicle after the meeting, supporters of the Hurriyat chairman shouted slogans targeting him.

The sloganeering angered Shah who came back inside the Hurriyat office compound and went to the Mirwaiz who was still addressing the media.

"Mirwaiz sahab go now, you have talked enough," Shah shouted.

The slogan-shouting lasted for nearly 15 minutes forcing Shah to leave the place saying "I am the Hurriyat".

Divisions within the moderate Hurriyat erupted on Sunday when another executive council member Abdul Gani Bhat at a rally in north Kashmir said the UN plebiscite resolutions were no longer "practically implementable" in the state.

Bhat's statement drew flak from several constituents of the moderate faction, including Nayeem Khan's National Front, fuelling speculation that the conglomerate was heading for a split.

The Mirwaiz, during his press conference, parried questions on the issue.

"There were discussion on recent reports regarding the division in the Hurriyat. But, the Hurriyat is a vibrant and coherent public forum," he said.

"The Hurriyat has a constitution which is bounding on every small and big members," the moderate separatist leader said.

"The Hurriyat's constitutional position is that the UN resolutions provide a base for our issue and UN has a role to play. Another point in the Hurriyat constitution is alternative negotiated settlement," he said.

All the constituents had been asked to issue statements only in the backdrop of amalgam's constitution, the Mirwaiz said.

The Hurriyat dove also refused to have any "common minimum programme" with the mainstream parties for resolving the Kashmir issue as was earlier suggested by his close aide Bhat.

Bhat, who remains at the centre of the controversy, and Shah, refused to make any comments saying they stand by the statement made by the Mirwaiz.

"There was some misunderstanding which has been cleared now. We stand by the Hurriyat Constitution and nothing outside it," Shah said.
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