For the first time since resigning as chief of the hardline faction of the Hurriyat Conference in June, ailing separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani has called for a “complete boycott” of the district development council (DDC) elections taking place in Jammu and Kashmir from November 28.
In a statement uploaded on his Twitter handle, the nonagenarian separatists said, “….. at a time when our freedom struggle against India’s illegal occupation is going through a crucial phase, conduction of DDC elections is to further the heinous designs of demographic changes, land grabs, building settler colonies, assaulting our economy and snatching our livelihood.”
While blaming all the parties participating in these elections for “acting against the freedom movement”, Geelani claimed that their “actions are not only legitimising Indian occupation but they are equally responsible towards creating these new occupational structures like DDC, BDC, and panchayats for the annihilation of people of J&K.”
Since the insurgency began in Kashmir in the late 1980s, separatists like Geelani have been calling for a boycott of all elections and running anti-poll campaigns across the Valley. However, since the NIA crackdown from 2017 onwards, the writ of separatists has waned and even local newspapers are refusing to publish their statements.
Geelani, who became life-time chief of the hardline faction, floated after the split of the Hurriyat Conference in 2003, resigned in June, complaining that constituents of the amalgam failed to lead the people after the abrogation of J&K’s special status, “overstepped the limits”, and tried to “create a parallel structure”
He also took a swipe at the Hurriyat leadership in Pakistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, calling it “just a representative forum” with “no power to take any decision” and using its influence to “get close to power corridors” in Pakistan.