Ailing Jammu and Kashmir separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani has said the Hurriyat Conference will name a successor only after he dies. Refuting rumours that he was likely to name his successor, Geelani told the media here: “The issue of naming my successor will be decided by the office bearers of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat only after my death.”
There was intense speculation that very soon Geelani would be naming Ashraf Sehrai, the deputy chairman of the hardline Hurriyat Conference, as his successor.
Geelani, 86, has been a key figure in the Hurriyat Conference since 1990, when the separatist campaign erupted in Jammu and Kashmir. He has headed his faction of the Hurriyat since 2003. A three-time former legislator, Geelani was diagnosed with renal cancer in 2006 when he was in jail. In March this year, he suffered a mild heart attack in New Delhi.
Geelani has been mostly under house arrest in Srinagar since 2008. He is widely seen as a key player in the separatist movement and advocates Jammu and Kashmir’s merger with Pakistan.
It may be recalled that for the past few months the Hardline Hurriyat Conference chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani has been keeping low profile due to his failing health . He was also given oxygen by doctors after he complained of severe breathing problems earlier.
Geelani complained of severe chest pain and was unable to speak properly and faced difficulties due to congestion in his chest after which the doctors administered oxygen to him, a Hurriyat spokesman said .
86-year-old Geelani has not been keeping well since the last few days and speculations about his future hence grew louder. The spokesman who was briefing the media on Geelani had said that the doctors have prescribed treatment to the separatist leader and he has been advised not to meet anyone. “We appeal the people to pray for the recovery of their leader,” the spokesman added.
(IANS & agencies)