New Delhi: The central government is considering a ban on both factions of the secessionist conglomerate Hurriyat Conference which has been leading the separatist movement in Jammu and Kashmir over the past two decades. According to a report by PTI, the ban will be imposed under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.The ban will allow security agencies to arrest any office bearer for being associated with the Hurriyat, and block the flow of funds. A recent investigation in relation to granting of MBBS seats to Kashmiri students by institutions in Pakistan suggests that the conglomerate has been collecting money from the students and is using it to fund the terror organisation in the valley.The officials said both the factions of the Hurriyat are likely to be banned under Section 3(1) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, or the UAPA, under which “if the Central Government is of opinion that any association is, or has become, an unlawful association, it may, by notification in the Official Gazette, declare such association to be unlawful”, as mentioned in a PTI report.The centre is likely to take this decision in accordance with the Centre’s policy of zero-tolerance against terrorism.
All about the Hurriyat Conference The Hurriyat Conference came into existence in 1993 when militancy was at its peak in Jammu and Kashmir. The Conference was formed with 26 groups, including some pro-Pakistan and banned outfits such as the Jamaat-e-Islami, JKLF and the Dukhtaran-e-Millat. It also included the People’s Conference and the Awami Action Committee headed by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq.The separatist conglomerate broke into two factions in 2005 with the moderate group being led by the Mirwaiz and the hard-line headed by Syed Ali Shah Geelani.So far, the Centre has banned the Jamaat-e-Islami and the JKLF under the UAPA. The ban was imposed in 2019.
Why the Centre is considering a ban on the Hurriyat Conference?According to PTI, the probe about the MBBS students admission revealed that the money was being used to run terrorist organisation and sources have indicated the alleged involvement of secessionist and separatist leaders, including the members and cadres of the Hurriyat Conference who have been acting in connivance with active militants of proscribed terrorist organisations Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM), Dukhtaran-e-Millat (DeM) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).The members of the conference raised funds in the country and from abroad through various illegal channels, including hawala, for funding separatist and terrorist activities in Jammu and Kashmir, according to officials quoted by PTIThe funds collected were used for causing disruption in the Kashmir Valley by way of pelting stones on security forces, systematically burning schools, damaging public property, and waging war against India as part of a criminal conspiracy, officials claimed.Supporting the case for banning the two factions of the Hurriyat Conference under the UAPA, the officials cited several cases related to terror funding, including the one being probed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in which several of the conglomerate’s cadres were arrested and jailed.Another case that is likely to be cited for banning the two Hurriyat Conference factions is the one against PDP youth leader Waheed-ur-Rahman Parra, who is alleged to have paid Rs 5 crore to the son-in-law of Syed Ali Shah Geelani for keeping Kashmir in turmoil after the death of Hizbul Mujahideen terror commander Burhan Wani in 2016, the officials said.The officials said evidence showed that the money was “put into channels that ended up in supporting programmes and projects pertaining to terrorism and separatism like payment for organizing stone pelting.”Citing the investigation, the officials said that the average cost of an MBBS seat in Pakistan was anything between Rs 10 lakh and Rs 12 lakh. In some cases, the fee was brought down on the intervention of Hurriyat leaders., reports PTI.