There have been suspicions about Geelani’s resignation from the Hurriyet conference leadership. Some indicate some internal politics of the Hurriyet leadership, others point out Geelani’s disillusionment from the movement, and there are some theories about external pressures too. In the official statements, he has declared his disdain towards some fellow members of the faction. He accused them of not exhibiting proper response to the August 2019 crisis. On August 5, 2019, the “joint resistance leadership” no longer responded or came together, unlike the previous crises. The blockade of communications in the valley and restrictions on the media amplified this silence.
No matter what the reason was behind this significant development, his resignation will prove to be a game-changer in the political dynamics of the valley. Had Geelani cited the reason for his resignation as the worsening health condition, the freedom movement wouldn’t have experienced such a jolt.
Geelani has been tacitly supported the resistance struggle against the Indian regime and advocating the facilitation of the implementation of UN resolutions 1948 and 1949 along with talks with Pakistan. Though he has been in house arrest since 2008, he has never negotiated on government’s terms. Geelani’s primacy solidified as one of the most prominent separatist voices as a result of his leadership of Hurriyat during multiple large-scale agitations against the Indian state, including the 2008 Amarnat riots, the 2010 summer of discontent, as well as the 2016 uprising following the killing of Burhan Wani. He has also been elected thrice in the assembly of Jammu & Kashmir which is unusual for a separatist leader in the valley. In this context, his resignation seems to decelerate or even diminish the separatist politics in the valley. The deceleration of the Hurriyet movement might partly be explained by the strict lockdown of Kashmir by the Modi regime and raids and arrests of separatist politicians and activists, another significant factor is the unavailability of a successor like Geelani to lead this movement with same charisma and insight. Masarrat Alam, the general secretary of Hurriyet, who was a possible successor, is imprisoned by the state. The second most important possible successor with the same ideological shifts as Geelani is Ashraf Sehrai, however, his relations had become worse with Geelani in the past few years due to some conflicts. Anyways, the transition of leadership would bear messy consequences.
Apart from Tehreek e Hurriyet, the local separatist emotions haven’t died, rather experienced an upsurge during the past few years. The freedom movement has become more and more violent for the last four years since the killing of Burhan Wani. As the number of security forces has increased over time, causing severe human rights violations and massive economic crisis, Kashmiris are ready to protest and have strongly internalized the consciousness of victimhood.
According to the reports published on Indian express till June, almost all the Kashmiris killed in encounters by Indian forces were local Kashmiris. Most of these local Kashmiris are inspired by locally formed new religious outfits that are against both India and Pakistan. Among such outfits are Ansar Ghazwatul Hind (AGH) and Islamic State Hind Province (ISHP) which may lead to fierce terrorism. The departure of Geelani may fuel up the sense of disenchantment from Hurriyet Movement’s inclination towards Pakistan.
The central government of BJP finds Geelani’s resignation as an opportunity to infiltrate between the leadership of various factions of the freedom movement. The authoritarian policy of BJP, converting Kashmir into an emergency state, combined with this situation will worsen the conditions for the freedom movement altogether. The political conflict among the factions of Hurriyet will increase manifold as soon as the Covid-19 lockdown eases and the local bodies’ election arrives. BJP regime will utilize this opportunity as a lure to weaken the movement. As an antithesis of Muslim identity politics of the Hurriyet movement in the valley by Geelani, Kashmir would witness a horrible specter of Hindu nationalism of BJP in reaction in post-Geelani Kashmir. The Modi regime would become fiercer in the suppression of the Muslim population with more heinous tactics such as the recent domicile law. The central government’s contentment with his resignation is evident from the statement of BJP general secretary of J&K Ashok Koul that “if he (Geelani) had taken the decision of quitting Hurriyat earlier, perhaps Kashmir would not have seen this much of bloodshed and chaos.”