In a significant development, three senior separatist leaders Wednesday joined Hurriyat Conference led by Syed Ali Geelani, pitching for unity among pro-freedom leaders for "carrying forward" the ongoing Kashmir movement.
Chairman Democratic Freedom Party Shabir Shah, Chairman National Front Nayeem Khan and Aga Syed Hassan Al-Mosvi Al-Safvi of Anjuman-e-Shar-e-Shian announced their decision to join Hurriyat (G) at a press conference at Geelani'sHyderpora residence.
Welcoming the leaders into the party fold, Geelani said his doors were open for all those who wanted to join his group to take "freedom movement to its logical conclusion".
"I hope they will truly represent aspirations of people," said Geelani, pointing towards Shah, Aga Syed and Nayeem.
Geelani said the separatist leadership was facing "many challenges". "Unity is the need of hour to confront those challenges. It is necessary that we unite physically, mentally and ideologically to take this movement forward," he said. "We can't sell the sacrifices offered by Kashmiris for mere roads and clerical jobs. Our Maqbool sahib (MaqboolBhat) and Afzal sahib (Muhammad Afzal Guru) have been buried in Tihar jail. We can't forget them."
Nayeem Khan said the "enemy" was in "aggressive mood" and the need of the hour was unity under a single platform. "Who else than Geelani Sahib can represent Kashmiris better?" he said.
He said they had started the efforts for unity in 2008.
"The process was continuing since then. Those who are outside this platform, I appeal them lets join hands for united front against India's aggression," said Khan.
The three leaders were constituents of Mirwaiz-led Hurriyat but parted ways due to "ideological differences" last year to form the Hurriyat Conference Jammu and Kashmir.
Shabir Shah said time has come for pro-freedom leaders to unite and face the challenges on a single platform.
"Kashmir issue must be resolved according to Hurriyat constitution which envisages implementation of UN resolutions or tripartite talks under the supervision of friendly countries as an option to resolve this dispute," Shah said.
"Today we have many challenges…the RSS, BJP and Government of India and others are all against us. We can fight them when we are united, so we have today come under single platform," Shah said.
Terming Pakistan as "our friend", he said they were hopeful that the country leadership would continue with the political and diplomatic support for Kashmir at International level to create awareness about the Kashmir issue.
Aga Syed Hassan who recently quit Hurriyat Conference led by MirwaizUmer Farooq said he decided to join Geelani "in the larger interest of resistance movement".
Over the past few years there have been attempts by separatists to come together. On April 20 this year, after nearly seven years, Geelani, JKLF chief Muhammad Yasin Malik and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq shared a stage and jointly condemned killings of civilians by Army and police in Kashmir.
The All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), a conglomerate of separatist parties and leaders, was formed on March 9, 1993 as a political front of the ongoing movement for right to self-determination.
However internal fissures within the conglomerate culminated in a formal split on September 7, 2003, with 12 of its 26 constituents removing the then Chairman Maulana Muhammad Abbas Ansari and replacing him with MasaratAlam as its interim chief.
Later, Geelani formed the Hurriyat Conference (G) and his own party, the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat.