“Most senior leaders were stopped from participating in the seminar by the police, with Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Prof Abdul Gani Bhat under house-arrest,” said Hurriyat spokesman, Shahid-ul-Islam. The Mirwaiz is the chairman of the moderate Hurriyat faction and Bhat heads Muslim Conference, a part of the Hurriyat. The clashes were triggered because of Bhat’s speech in Sopore recently, in which he questioned the UN resolutions on Kashmir saying these were no longer applicable. He also criticized the greater autonomy proposal of the ruling National Conference and the idea of self-rule of the opposition, PDP.
The debate Bhat’s comments generated led to clashes during the seminar with supporters of prominent separatist leaders Shabir Ahmad Shah and Nayeem Ahmad Khan clashing against supporters of Bhat. Barring Maulvi Abbas Ansari, no senior executive member of the moderate faction was present. As soon as Nayeem Khan finished his speech ridiculing the Hurriyat leadership for not acting against Bhat for his May 7 comments, Bhat’s and Mirwaiz’s supporters raised slogans against Khan which led to the clashes.