Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, once headed by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, banned by govt

New Delhi:  The government on Sunday declared pro-Pakistan separatist amalgam Tehreek-e-Hurriyat (TeH) Jammu and Kashmir a banned organisation for fomenting terrorism and spreading anti-India propaganda in the Union territory.

Announcing the decision, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said the group was found spreading anti-India propaganda and continuing terror activities to fuel secessionism in Jammu and Kashmir.

He said that under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s zero-tolerance policy against terrorism, any individual or organisation found involved in anti-India activities would be thwarted.

“The Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, J&K (TeH), has been declared an ‘Unlawful Association’ under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The outfit is involved in forbidden activities to separate J&K from India and establish Islamic rule,” Shah posted on ‘X’.

The decision to ban the TeH was made under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, citing the group’s propagation of anti-India messaging and its efforts to sustain terror activities, ultimately aiming to fuel secessionism in Jammu and Kashmir.

The TeH, previously led by the late Syed Ali Shah Geelani and succeeded by Masarat Alam Bhat, has been known for its anti-India and pro-Pakistan stance. Bhat, currently incarcerated, also headed the banned organisation, Muslim League of Jammu and Kashmir, which was declared unlawful earlier in December.

The TeH was formed by Geelani in 2004 after he stepped out of the moderate Hurriyat faction led by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq.

Geelani, against whom several cases were registered, resigned from the Jamaat-e-Islami and formed this group, which later became a constituent of another faction of the Hurriyat, a separatist amalgam, led by the hardline separatist.

Several of members of the hardline Hurriyat have been charge-sheeted by the National Investigation Agency for raising funds to support terror in Kashmir.

They include Farooq Ahmad Dar alias Bitta Karate, Altaf Ahmad Shah alias Fantoosh, Geelani’s son-in-law and public relations officer of the TeH as well as secretary and strategist in the Hurriyat, Mohammad Akbar Khanday, spokesman of the Hurriyat and a fund-raiser for it, Raja Mehrajuddin Kalwal and Bashir Ahmad Bhat alias Peer Saifullah, personal assistant of Geelani as well as secretary of the TeH.

Geelani died in September 2021 while his son-in-law in October 2022.

The Union home ministry, in a notification, highlighted the group’s involvement in raising funds from various sources, including Pakistan and its proxy organisations, to support unlawful activities such as sustaining terrorist acts and orchestrating stone-pelting incidents against security forces in the region.

In addition, the notification underscored the group’s disregard for constitutional authority and its repeated calls to boycott assembly elections, displaying a lack of belief in the democratic system of governance.

The central government’s decision to ban the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat for five years stems from its concern that the group, if left unchecked, would persist in advocating for the secession of Jammu and Kashmir from India while disputing its accession to the Union.

The group’s activities were deemed prejudicial to the integrity, sovereignty, security, and communal harmony of the country, with a potential to perpetuate a false narrative and anti-national sentiments among the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

In exercising powers conferred by the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, the central government officially declared the TeH, Jammu and Kashmir, as an unlawful association for the next five years, effective immediately.

This measure reflects the government’s commitment to curbing activities that pose a threat to the territorial integrity, security, and sovereignty of the nation, aiming to maintain public order and discourage sentiments of disaffection against India.