Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani, whose death in an alleged encounter on July 8 tipped Kashmir into turmoil, had called Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani four days before his death.
This was revealed by Geelani at a small meeting he addressed at his residence in Hyderpora before his arrest by the police for trying to march towards Anantnag to lead a protest there.
“Commander Burhan called me days ahead of his martyrdom,” Geelani told the gathering.
He said that Burhan told him that the militants were doing their job and Hurriyat leaders should do theirs.
People had reached and gathered at a park adjacent to Geelani’s home where they heard the ailing separatist patriarch. It was the second time in last three days that Geelani addressed public gathering outside his residence.
Geelani asked people to remain steadfast, crediting the current upsurge to the killing of Burhan.
“It was because of the sacrifice of a 22-year-old youth that Kashmir is up in revolt again,” he said, urging people to obey the separatist protest programme. “We are fighting a big power like India. But our commitment and sacrifices will lead us to success,” he said.
Indicating that the current spell of protest will continue, Geelani asked people to take care of those who work hand-to-mouth. “It is a drawn struggle,” he said, “It is the responsibility of well-off people to ensure distribution of essential items like ration among those who are needy.”
Geelani, who has been banned from moving out of his home, addressed people from one of the windows of the office building of his Hurriyat faction’s office.
Generally, separatist politicians in Kashmir have tried to maintain a distance from militants and advocated a peaceful resistance. But here it was Burhan who, according to Geelani, had contacted him.
Burhan belonged to Hizbul Mujahideen, an outfit which started out in the early nineties as an arm of Jamaat-e-Islami, Geelani’s parent political organization. However, when security agencies systematically targeted Jamaat’s political cadre for their association with Hizbul, the religio-political party dissociated from the militant outfit.
Geelani had protested this break-up for which he was expelled from Jamaat. He set up his own party Tehreek-i-Hurriyat which is now a major constituent of the Hurriyat faction led by him.
Ever since, Hizbul under the leadership of PoK based Syed Salahuddin has been on its own, with no public contact with Jamaat or its leadership.
Both apparently operate independently of each other.