Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Of leaders and people

Let’s not raise finger at the separatist leaders when we, as a people, have failed to play our role in institutionalizing the movement, writes Naseer.

It was 2002. Abdul Gani Lone was addressing a seminar at Hurriyat headquarters in Rajbagh. It was December 10, the World Human Rights Day. Fazal Sahib (Fazal Haq Qurashi) was also among the participants. Lone Sahib said that Kashmiris have no faith in Indian democracy. “They hate everything Indian,” he said. He said during the day Kashmiris would “abuse” India but in the evening they will tune to Doordarshan to watch day’s news. “And when the news caster says Hurriyat leaders have amassed this much of money and they are living life of kings and their children live lives of princes, Kashmiri responds by saying how truthful,” he said. 
Lone said he wonders when anyone, who has no credibility during the day, speaks about Hurriyat leaders in the evening becomes gospel truth to Kashmiris. On November 17, 2009 Parveen Swami wrote in the Hindu. “Hurriyat held secret talks with Chidambaram.”  He wrote that the Jammu and Kashmir “secessionist leaders” have held a second round of secret dialogue with Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, in an effort to push forward the stalled peace process in the State. Swami wrote: “Hurriyat chairperson Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, along with his coalition colleagues Abdul Gani Bhat and Bilal Lone, the sources said, met with Mr. Chidambaram for two hours on Saturday. The Mirwaiz, however, denied he met with Mr. Chidambaram.  No meeting took place while I was in New Delhi, insisted the Srinagar cleric.” 
Mirwaiz might have thought that his denial would serve the purpose and educated class will not buy what Swami wrote, given the nature of his previous writings. But things proved him wrong. Abdul Gani Lone again proved right. He forgot that anything against the Hurriyat leaders have takers here. Overnight the Hurriyat became hub of news and persistent denials by Mirwaiz failed to end the rumors. It went on and on. We writers, including me, phoned Mirwaiz and talked to him like Kashmiri, and wrote like aliens. The vicious circle continued. People spoke and wrote. Their speeches and writings continued to poison the minds of people, young and old. The frenzy ultimately provided room to what Geelani says “anti-movement elements”, what Mirwaiz called “enemies of resolution of Kashmir dispute” to comment heinous crime. 
And on December 5, Parveen Swami wrote in the Hindu. “Patriarch of Jammu & Kashmir jihad turned peacemaker” attacked.  
Presently Kashmir has no Sheikh Abdullah. Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the Hurriyat Chairman no doubt is a popular leader. He represents aspirations of Kashmir. But he can’t match Sheikh’s popularity. Tomorrow if Geelani Sahib will enter into a pact with New Delhi over Kashmir, he won’t be able to take whole nation along. He would be alone. Same is true with Mirwaiz Umar. Young Mirwaiz if tomorrow enters into pact with New Delhi, Kashmiri struggle will not end with it. He will be alone. And same holds true for JKLF chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik. Sell out, sell out! Those who shout from rooftops slogans of sell-out should understand that Kashmir no longer can be sold by any leader. If any leader wants to go for sell out he will sell himself not the nation. 
Sajjad Lone who in mass uprising of 2008 acted as spokesman of the movement, when decided to participate election in 2009, nation didn’t go along him. He was alone.  
The leaders understand this but the writers, who after serving the state don the mantle of journalists, don’t. The lawyers, who read nothing, not even their law books, don’t. The so called intelligentsia of Kashmir doesn’t and justify murders in the name of larger interests of movement. 
Geelani Sahib represents a thought. His thought has followers. Not few but thousands and lakhs. Geelani Sahib represents aspirations of Kashmir. That is right to self –determination. He has been unbending in his stance.  Geelani believes in tripartite talks for resolving the issue. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq also represents a thought. The thought of right to self-determination, but his approach is different. He believes in trilateral dialogue with New Delhi and Islamabad separately. His thought too has followers in Kashmir.  Should we condemn him and his thought because it does not sync with our thought. The JKLF Chairman Yasin Malik represents independent ideology. This ideology has huge following in Kashmir and polls show it. But at the end of the day they represent different shades of Kashmir opinion having a same goal. That is to resolve Kashmir dispute according to aspirations of Kashmiris. That is to mitigate sufferings of people. 
Yes! They must be criticized; their statements analyzed and commented upon. But at the same time they too require your advice.  Don’t they? Not only criticism through newspaper columns.  When has the last time team of young lawyers, males and females visited Mirwaiz’s house to tell him what they think he should do and he shouldn’t. When have the doctors, who always comment upon everything, visited house of Yasin Malik to inform him about what they think what should be right for Kashmir? And when has the business fraternity, who frequently visit chief minister, home minister and others, thronged Geelani Sahib to inform him what is ailing Kashmir economy? When has ‘seminar driven” Kashmiri educated class tried to institutionalize the separatist politics. 
Kashmiri University student, no doubt gave warm reception to Geelani when he visited the campus. That is collective response. But individually when the students have visited the leaders. Cite an example when last time villagers briefed the separatists what is going on in rural areas. Kashmir is a different place. Here you need to brief and inform those whom you dragged from their house in 2008 saying they represent your aspirations whether it was Geelani, Mirwaiz, Malik, Shah or Nayeem. Is it not responsibility of environmentalists, political scientists, sociologists, religious scholars, villagers and city dwellers to make them aware about ground situation? To tell them what they feel? 
Don’t come up with excuses that there is no unity among separatists. And why should there be a unity. They have agreement over a disagreement to pursue their goal differently. They represent different ideologies and ideologies don’t mix.  Kashmiris must respect this disagreement. The pro-freedom groups came together when they felt they must. That is why you saw in 2008 when massive uprising broke out in Kashmir and engulfed Jammu and Ladakh they were together. 
If don’t want to be meet the separatists fearing arrests under Public Safety Act, raids in houses, and denial of passport, then shut your mouth and stop blackening newspapers through your pen by condemning them. And join mainstream parties. Last month Congress advertised post of its general secretary in Kashmir. The party was shocked with response. 800 applicants Ph.Ds, LLBs, MSCs came for interview. It was Kashmir response to Congress.

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