Geelani paves way for long-time aide Sehrai

Sehrai, who was the secretary general of TeH, will remain as interim chairman till the party elections will be held later this year.

Octogenarian Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani, known for his hardline stance on dialogue process and engagement with New Delhi, on Monday appointed his long-term aide Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai to lead his party Tahreek-e-Hurriyat Kashmir (THK), a constituent of a faction of Hurriyat Conference led by Geelani.

The party was formed following a split in the Hurriyat Conference in 2003 since then Geelani had been the chairperson.

Sehrai was elected chairman of the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat unanimously at a meeting of its executive committee after Geelani chose to step down.

A confidant of Geelani, Sehrai will be elected as the next chairman of the TeH when the elections to the post are held later this year. The decision has ended the strain in the Hurriyat on who will lead the flock after Geelani, whose deteriorating health has been a cause of concern.

The NIA has named 10 other Kashmiri separatists including Hurriyat leader Syed Shah Geelani's son-in-law Altaf Ahmed Shah. India's National Investigation Agency (NIA) has arrested several senior pro-freedom leaders in the past one year. The Geelani-led Hurriyat comprises at least 24 smaller parties.

"Sources said Geelani told the members:" I wilfully step-down from the chairmanship and advise Shoora to arrange an alternative at the earliest".

He is credited to have worked as a "foot soldier" in JeI in the trying times.

When JeI J&K chose to launch its student wing, Sehraie was chosen to lead Shooba-i-Talaba since 1977.

  • Rosalie Stanley