SRINAGAR: A prominent Shia cleric and chiefs of Democratic Freedom Party (DFP) and Jammu Kashmir National Front (JKNF) Wednesday joined the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat led by Syed Ali Geelani, in what is seen as the first step towards unifying the disjointed Hurriyat Conference.

DFP's Shabir Ahmad Shah and JKNF's Nayeem Khan along with Shia cleric, Aga Hassan Al Mosvi Al Saafvi, Wednesday threw their weight behind Geelani with Khan making the announcement at a press conference outside Geelani's residence here.

Lauding Geelani, who wants India to hold a referendum in Kashmir, for "preserving" the movement of political resistance, Khan, who played a key role during talks for unification, urged other separatists leaders to join Tehreek-e-Hurriyat "in order to take the freedom movement to its logical conclusion".

“The process to unite pro-freedom leaders began in 2008. In 2014 we started deliberations. The panels constituted by the two sides held talks and today we are here on joint platform. No one except Geelani saheb can represent and lead us in this situation,” he said.

Addressing the reporters, Shabir Shah said the people of Kashmir want the separatists to present a "united face" before India. “The Kashmiri people have given enormous sacrifices for the freedom movement and we will carry forward this movement,” he said.

Shah reiterated that the resolution of Kashmir lies either in UN resolutions or in tripartite talks between India, Pakistan and the Hurriyat .

"Kashmir is facing an onslaught from RSS, BJP and their designs are visible from their ‘Kashmir Mission’. But we will carry the movement forward and seek support of international community. We also thank Pakistan for its political, moral, diplomatic support. They never left Kashmiris alone," he said.

In his address, Geelani, while welcoming the leaders into his faction, also invited other leaders to become part of his conglomerate, “We hope the leadership would represent the emotions and aspirations of this oppressed nation. We will achieve freedom and there is no doubt in it,” the veteran leader said.

Geelani said there are big challenges ahead for the Hurriyat Conference . “We have to fight and face these challenges. We tell other people that our doors are open. Those who are ready to accept our charter are welcome,” he said.

He said the economic development holds no meaning for “oppressed nations”. “There is no alternative for freedom. We have not offered sacrifices for jobs, roads and other developmental works. Our sacrifices are for freedom,” he said.

“We will not allow anyone to do treachery with this blood. I tell people to trust Allah because we are on right path,” he said.

The octogenarian leader slammed the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, National Conference and other mainstream parties, terming them as "enemies" of Kashmiri people. He warned chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed's government of serious consequences if the restrictions on pro-freedom leadership are not lifted.