By Express News Service
SRINAGAR: The Hurriyat Conference has appointed jailed hardline separatist leader Masrat Alam Bhat as the new chairman of the separatist conglomerate after the death of senior separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani.
In a statement, Hurriyat said that Alam has been appointed as the new chairman of the Hurriyat Conference.
Alam, 50, who spearheaded 2010 summer unrest in Kashmir during which over 120 youth were killed, is presently lodged in Delhi’s Tihar jail.
He played a key role in the split of the united Hurriyat Conference and forming of the hardline Hurriyat faction led by Geelani. Alam was General Secretary of the Hurriyat faction led by Geelani.
Geelani, who was under house detention since 2010, died at his Hyderpora residence on Wednesday last. His body was quietly buried by authorities before sunrise on Thursday. His family members alleged that his body was forcibly taken and buried by police while police denied the charge and also released videos of his ablution and burial.
The Hurriyat statement said after Geelani’s death, a consultative exercise was conducted with members of the executive council of the separatist conglomerate using different mediums to avoid arrests.
“Shabir Ahmad Shah and Ghulam Ahmed Gulzar have been appointed as Vice chairmen. Molvi Bashir Ahmed Irfani will continue as General Secretary,” read the statement.
On May 2, 2016, Geelani had stated Hurriyat headed by him will elect the next-in-line after his death.
“Hurriyat knows what to do after his death. They will elect my successor through a consultation process,” he had said.
Bhat, who had studied in Srinagar’s leading Christian missionary Tyndale Biscoe hails from Srinagar, is presently lodged at Delhi’s Tihar jail.
He has so far been booked 37 times under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA).
He was for the first time arrested at the age of 19 in 1990.
Alam has been in detention since 2015 and was shifted to Tihar jail after his arrest by NIA in a militancy funding case.
In 2010, when Kashmir witnessed summer unrest, the government placed a Rs 10 lakh bounty on his head and declared him a “most wanted” separatist leader. He was later arrested on October 18, 2010.
Like Geelani, Alam is a hardline leader and favours J&K’s merger with Pakistan.