10 things you should know about Hurriyat Conference

After the killing of Hijbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani, on July 8 by the Indian armed forces, the Kashmir valley has seen much political disturbances and turmoil.

Almost all the news about these disturbances and agitations by the Kashmiri youths carried one common name: All Parties Hurriyat Conference or simply Hurriyat.

Hurriyat is a very influential political group of Kashmir. To understand the current situation of Kashmir, we should be well aware about the role and ideology of Hurriyat.

Here are some facts one should know about Hurriyat in order to have a better understanding of the Kashmir politics.

1. The meaning of the word Hurriyat is ‘liberty’ or ‘freedom’. It entered the Kashmiri language from Persian or Arabic. The word is also widely used in Urdu.

2. Hurriyat Conference was set up on March 9, 1993.

3. Hurriyat is a conglomeration of different political and socio-religious groups based in Kashmir. In total, 26 different groups are part of this grand platform.

4. Some of the leading faces of Hurriyat Conference are Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Asiya Andrabi.

5. It was formed to express the pro-independence sentiments of the Kashmiris in a peaceful manner without engaging in a direct military confrontation with the Indian state.

6. Although Hurriyat Conference is an alliance of so many different groups adhering to much diverse political ideology, it maintained an overall pro-independence stance for the people of Jammu and Kashmir as its political outlook.

However, there are some groups and people within the Hurriyat who are pro-Pakistan in their outlook.

7. Almost all the Hurriyat leaders consider India as an occupying force in Kashmir.

8. Internal dissension is quite common in the Hurriyat Conference. Two main rivals within the group are Geelani and the Mirwaiz.

While Geelani is considered as an ardent hardliner and pro-Pakistan leader, the Mirwaiz is a moderate political leader. In 2003, Geelani broke away from the Hurriyat and formed his own party Tehreek-e- Hurriyat.

9. Hurriyat leaders always challenged the claims of the India government or the Jammu and Kashrmir government as the legitimate representative of the ordinary Kashmiris.

10. On several occasions, Pakistan legitimised the claims of the Hurriyat leaders as the sole legitimate representative of the Kashmiris by arranging several conferences between the Hurriyat leaders and top rung Pakistani government officials.

Even the former presidents of Pakistan, Farooq Leghari and Pervez Musharraf had several talks with the Hurriyat leaders over the years as a part of a deliberate attempt to bypass the claims of the Indian government on Kashmir as an inseparable part of the Indian union.