A true supporter of Kashmir struggle will never vote, the Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani said on Sunday, and asserted that when people were killed in 2016 for participating in the funeral of militant commander Burhan Wani, “all vote-seeking parties were watching the bloodbath of innocent people as mute spectators”.

Addressing a seerat conference organised by his party at Hyderpora here, Geelani said a person “who believes in the genuineness of the sacred Kashmir struggle will never vote”.

“Don’t you remember how the (pro-India) parties which are coming to seek votes today watched the bloodbath of innocent people after the killing of BurhanWani,” the ailing Geelani said, as participants responded saying “we will boycott, we will boycott.”

Geelani said that hundreds of people marched towards Tral, the hometown of Burhan, only to participate in his funeral procession. 

“They were not carrying any weapons with them. Later, the power-hungry people stated that whether those killed were demanding toffee or milk from the forces’ camps they were getting closer to,” he said.

Geelani was flanked by Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik, Tehreek-e-Hurriyat chief Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai, Jamaat-e-Islami spokesman, advocate Zahid Ali and some other resistance leaders.

He reiterated the call for boycott of elections and asked people “not pay heed to those who are out to sell the sacrifices of people in the name of votes.” 

Geelani alleged that the main purpose of the government of India “is to kill people of Kashmir. Whatever we are witnessing today is nothing new. When India got freedom from the British, the first thing it did was massacre of five lakh Muslims in Jammu that included women and children. Since 1947, a planned genocide of Kashmiri people is on.”

“One party or the other, their agenda is same. Didn’t Congress hang Afzal Guru in Tihar jail? Before that we saw how Muhammad MaqboolBhat was sent to gallows,” he said. “Today, we are seeing young boys getting killed. All this is planned.”

Expressing concern over plight of Kashmiri political prisoners languishing in various prisons, the Hurriyat (G) chairman said he has himself seen during the rule of Maharaja Hari Singh, a prisoner convicted with lifer was released after 14 years. 

“I am a witness to it,” he said. “But today, we have people who have completed even more than 25 years in prisons but are not being released. AshiqHussainFakhtoo is a live example. He has crossed 25 years in jail and is not being released.”

Similarly, Geelani said, Muslim League chairman MasaratAlam, who was arrested in 2010, continues to be in jail. 

“He was slapped with Public Safety Act for the 37th time and shifted to Hiranagar jail recently,” he said.

Geelani said jails are being filled with Kashmiri people “who have committed no crime but are being punished for their belief in right to self determination”.

“Agencies which have booked innocent Kashmiris have no concrete evidence against them and yet they continue to languish in jails like Tihar and Kotbalwal. It’s been two years since nearly a dozen resistance leaders were lodged in Tihar,” Geelani said. “So far nothing has been proven against them. What they get is hearing date after hearing date, that too after a gap of two to three months. This all is being done to prolong their confinement.”

Geelani alleged that the woman resistance leader AsiyaAndrabi and her two aides are being “subjected to worst form of torture in Tihar. And the irony is that in blatant violation of Supreme Court guidelines, prisoners are shifted to jails outside J&K. Under a Supreme Court ruling, prisoners booked under Public Safety Act need to be kept in prisons closer to their homes so that their family members can see them.”

Geelani urged the people to remain steadfast towards the goal of right to self-determination and forge unity on all fronts “by leaving behind controversies”. Tehreek-e-Hurriyat chief Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai, Hurriyat Conference (M) leader Moulana Syed-ur-Rehman Shams, advocate Zahid Ali and many others also spoke on the occasion.