Hurriyat Conference Chairperson Syed Ali Shah Geelani offered congregational prayers at the Jamia Masjid in Srinagar’s Hyderpora locality on Friday for the first time since 2010, the Kashmir News Service reported. Ashraf Sehrai, who succeeded Geelani at the helm of the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, and other leaders of the party accompanied him.

Geelani has been under house arrest for the past eight years and has not been allowed to offer Friday prayers at the mosque. Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police SP Vaid said on Thursday that Geelani and other separatist leaders such as Mirwaiz Mohammad Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik were free to go anywhere they wish to as long as they do not make “anti-national” speeches or create a law-and-order problem, Greater Kashmir reported.

Geelani gave up leadership of the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat last week because of his failing health and “other political burdens”. He is often described as the “hardliner” among Kashmir’s separatist leaders. He is one of the most visible faces of Kashmiri separatist movement and has refused to hold talks with Delhi. His politics emphasises the role of religion in the political struggle. Geelani has also been the centrifugal force holding together separatist groups of various political hues.