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Kashmiri pro-freedom leader passes away

On Tuesday, Moulana Muhammad Abbas Ansari, a religious leader and former chairman of the Hurriyat Conference, an alliance of Kashmiri parties, died.

The 86-year-old leader died at his home in Srinagar. He had been ailing for some years and had lately been hospitalized for a few days.

Hurriyat Conference in a tweet stated that “Today, the people of Jammu and Kashmir, and especially the Hurriyat Conference, lost a great man who dedicated his entire life to the cause of his people. We will dearly miss him and his able guidance. Until we meet again, inshallah.”

“Maulana Abbas Ansari spent his entire life advocating Shia-Sunni unity and the cause of self-determination of the people of Kashmir,” the Hurriyat further added.

After completing his studies in early 1962, Ansari created Jammu and Kashmir Ittehadul Muslimeen, an organization striving to work for Shia-Sunni unity. He was an alumnus of the prestigious Shia seminary in Najaf, Iraq. During that time, he also played a pivotal role in a campaign calling for the settlement of Kashmir by a referendum, as pledged by India’s first Prime Minister, Jawahar Lal Nehru.

Ansari was a founding member of the Muslim United Front in 1987, which served as a forerunner to the Hurriyat Conference. In 2003, he became the Hurriyat Conference’s first Shia chairman.

It is generally accepted that the Muslim United Front won the 1987 local assembly election but was stopped from taking power by the then-ruling pro-India National Conference in Kashmir, in concert with the Congress-ruled Indian administration in New Delhi.

In a tweet by Hurriyat Conference, it was stated that the Indian authorities did not allow people to offer his funeral prayers at Eidgah, the prominent place of religious congregations in Kashmir. Hurriyat Chairman and Ansari’s lifelong companion Mirwaiz Omar Farooq was also barred from attending the funeral gathering.

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