Ground Report | New Delhi: Who is new Hurriyat conference chief; Separatist group Hurriyat Conference has appointed jailed leader Masrat Alam as its new president in place of deceased Syed Ali Shah Geelani.
Last year, the ailing Geelani had announced his separation from the Hurriyat through a controversial video statement. However, the Hurriyat, which had elected Geelani as its life president, did not accept this and refrained from naming his successor until his death.
Alam, the architect of civil unrest in the Valley in 2010 that killed more than a hundred people, has spent nearly half his life in prison in “preventive detention”. Alam has an incredible record of being detained 36 times under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA). To keep him in jail, state governments imposed PSA on him from time to time.
Who is new Hurriyat conference chief
A terrorist turned political leader, Alam’s political career as a separatist began in 1996. He was the top commander of the pro-Pakistan terrorist organization Hezbollah, and after his arrest and release, joined the separatist Muslim League, according to the Indian Express. After joining the Muslim League, he became increasingly popular and rose through the ranks to become the party chief.
In 2003, when the Hurriyat Conference split into moderates and extremists, Alam joined the faction led by Geelani. When several leaders of Hurriyat Conference were arrested, he was appointed General Secretary of Hurriyat Conference for some time. He is known to be a close confidante of the late Geelani.
The Hurriyat Conference came into existence in 1993 with 26 groups, including some pro-Pakistan and outlawed organizations such as Jamaat-e-Islami, Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front and Dukhtaran-e-Millat. It also included the People’s Conference and the Awami Action Committee headed by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.
He first came into the limelight in 2007 when he organized a rally for Geelani in old Srinagar city, which was then a stronghold of moderate Hurriyat faction leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. In 2010, Alam led public agitations in the Valley, which resulted in the death of 120 civilians in action by security forces.
Alam has been in and out of prison throughout his political career, and has been under continuous house arrest since April 2015. He has been booked a record 37 times under the Public Safety Act (PSA). He is currently in custody after the NIA registered a case in the money laundering case.