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Geelani's news conference turns into public meeting

Written by: Staff
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Srinagar, June 12 (UNI) A news conference called by breakaway Hurriyat Conference Chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani virtually turned into a public meeting and a show of strength today after his slogan-shouting supporters stormed into the venue.

Mr Geelani was brought to the Jehangir Hotel, the venue of the news conference, in a procession with thousands of supporters shouting pro-Pakistan and anti-Shiv Sena slogans.

Police later opened baton-charge to disperse his supporters when they came out of the venue and gathered to take out a procession.

Earlier, Mr Geelani returned here to a tumultuous welcome after his 12-day visit to Rajouri, Poonch and Jammu.

The visit of the firebrand separatist leader to the Jammu region from June one had been an eventful one. First, he was detained by the authorities on several occasions enroute to Poonch and Rajouri.

On June 7, Mr Geelani was arrested in Poonch when he was heading to address a gathering there. He was later shifted to the Central Jail in Jammu and remanded in police custody till June 29.

He was charged with sedition by a court in Poonch and ordered into police custody five years after an arrest warrant was issued against him for ''inciting people against the Indian state, triggering communalism and fundamentalism while making a series of provocative speeches'' in 2001.

On June 9, the 77 year-old separatist leader was granted bail on health grounds by the Poonch court.

Mr Geelani had filed a bail application on health grounds, stating he was fitted with a pacemaker and had other ailments also.

District and Sessions court Judge A K Shan granted him bail, but asked the breakaway Hurriyat Chairman to furnish bonds of Rs 50,000 each in all the three cases and sureties of equal amount.

On June 10, the Shiv Sena activists disrupted his news conference in a Jammu hotel. About 20 Shiv Saniks stormed into the venue and raised slogans against the separatist leader.

Calling him an ''agent of Pakistan'', the Shiv Sainiks asked Mr Geelani to leave the venue. Police also later asked him to leave the place keeping in view the sensitive situation.

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