Geelani paves way for leadership change, appoints long-time aide Sehrai as chairperson

Geelani will continue to head the hardline faction of the Hurriyat Conference of which Tehreek-e Hurriyat is a constituent

Syed Ali Shah Geelani resigned on 19th March as Tehreek-e-Hurriyat's chairman.

Geelani and Sehrai both have roots in Jamaat-e-Islami for over 50 years. "The decision was taken after Geelani chose to step down", they said.

"So today I willfully step-down from the chairmanship, and advise the shoora to arrange an alternative at the earliest".

However, they said Geelani will continue to head the Hurriyat Conference (G) of which Tehreek-e-Hurriyat is a constituent.

The TeH spokesman said after Geelani's resignation, it was unanimously decided by the participants to appoint Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai as interim chairman till fresh elections are held later this year. He extended his fullest cooperation and honest wishes to the would-be leadership of the organization. Sehrai, who was the secretary general of TeH, will remain as interim chairman till the party elections will be held later this year.

Altaf, who was famously known to be Geelani's right hand, is now in Tihar Jail. Tehreek-e-Hurriyat is our party and Hurriyat has 23 allies.

Geelani's son-in-law Altaf Fantoosh was said to be the one in charge of party operations to a good extent.

The change of guard also comes at a time of an unprecedented crackdown by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on the separatist camp. They are now detained in Tihar Jail in New Delhi.

The All Parties Hurriyat Conference split up in 2002.

Although Geelani said that he was stepping down because of health problems and his age factor, but sources close to him said that he was under tremendous pressure from various quarters ever since he had begun issuing calls for long-stretched shutdowns in the valley causing financial loss to small traders and those connected with tourism.

He is credited to have worked as a "foot soldier" in JeI in the trying times. Geelani held the position for 18 years.

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