Control Lost

Niloofar Qureshi
April 20, 2017 OPINION 279 Views
Control Lost

The Hurriyat may maintain that it is completely in control of the struggle in Kashmir, but the way events are currently unfolding raises serious doubts about its claim. Ironically, it was Hurriyat (G) chairman SAS Geelani who himself fuelled this suspicion during an interview given to IANS soon after the death of Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) commander Burhan Wani in which he admitted that “We cannot say we are in absolute control of the situation.” So, the question that arises is- if the ‘Joint’ Hurriyat wasn’t in absolute control of the situation during the five and a half month long protests triggered by the killing of Burhan Wani, then how really was?
However, Geelani sahib’s revelation is not the sole indicator that the unquestionable authority the Hurriyat once wielded has waned considerably. Instances of youth disregarding appeals made by Hurriyat leaders have significantly increased and last year’s unrest saw ugly scenes in which local youth forming vigilante groups subjected people to unnecessary harassment, humiliation and even bodily harm. On receiving numerous complaints the Hurriyat appealed to the youth not to trouble the public, but it was of no avail. Similarly, the Hurriyat leaders’ appeals for ensuring that protests are peaceful remain unheeded!
The unruly behaviour of the youth and their utter disregard for what the elders say is unfortunate but the Hurriyat cannot complain since it is also partially responsible for this. The ‘self determination’ struggle that the Hurriyat inherited was essentially a peaceful movement but with the passage of time it started encouraging mob violence and still eulogises stone pelting as a ‘tool of resistance.’ Not only this, it also accepted militancy as a ‘legitimate’ means to realise the ‘right to self determination’ and thus changed the original character of the movement. Though this change did have some positives, but once violence became the central theme of the Kashmir movement, the international community slowly started disassociating itself.
The Hurriyat has however continued to defend militancy and last year when a Pakistani Parliamentary panel recommended that Pakistan should avoid supporting militant groups in Kashmir, Geelani sahib hit back saying, “The groups busy in the freedom struggle of Kashmir have nothing to do with the terrorism but they are struggling for the just and genuine demand of right to self determination for their nation.” A month later, Hurriyat (G) Deputy General Secretary Ghulam Nabi Sumji reiterated his party’s stand by saying, “The people who are linking the spread of armed struggle with the religious activities and the Friday congregational prayers are intellectually bankrupt.”
Paradoxically, in a video message for the youth in Kashmir that went viral last month, Burhan Wani’s successor Zakir Rashid Bhat alias ‘Musa’ has by asking the youth to fight not for the sake of Kashmiri nationalism, but for the cause of Islam outrightly debunked the Hurriyat’s ‘Kashmir nation’ philosophy! This must have come as both a big surprise and embarrassment for the Hurriyat (G) chairman who as recently as January this year was accusing New Delhi for “trying hard to link the freedom struggle of Kashmir with terrorism.”
Though Musa hasn’t mentioned anything about the Daesh in his video message, but by saying that since the concepts of nationalism and democracy are ‘Haram’ (forbidden) in Islam, the fight in Kashmir should only be for the “supremacy of Islam so that Sharia is enforced here,” he has made the intentions of the HM absolutely clear!
The HM’s had till now always maintained that it is engaged in an ‘armed struggle’ for the ‘liberation’ of Kashmir from the ‘occupational forces’ of India. However, after listening to what Musa has to say, the overall picture completely changes as he is telling us that the aim of the ‘armed struggle’ is not for achieving the ‘right to self determination’ but to only for ensuring that Sharia law is “enforced” in Kashmir. What is disturbing is that the HM hasn’t considered it necessary to solicit public consensus on this tectonic shift in its outlook that is bound to unnerve Kashmiris belonging to certain sects.
One would have expected that after this video surfaced, the Hurriyat would object to what Musa enunciated-either in toto, or (knowing the realties in Kashmir) at least by mildly expressing reservations regarding some of its contents. However, no such thing has happened and this is what gives credence to the more than two decade gossip in the by-lanes of Downtown Srinagar that it is actually the HM and not the Hurriyat that has all along been calling the shots in Kashmir!
Can the Hurriyat still claim that it is in control of the ‘azadi’ struggle in Kashmir?
With the HM using Musa to make it absolutely clear that the struggle in Kashmir is only and solely, about the establishment of Sharia law and the ‘joint Hurriyat maintaining a stoic silence on this disturbing development, the resultant situation has become rather precarious. While the Hurriyat’s silence will obviously be viewed as tacit approval and thus further alienate the international community, the HM’s declaration could well end up in it being considered to be a fundamental terrorist outfit.
Either ways, it is ultimately the people of Kashmir who will be the real losers!
Tailpiece: In his autobiography titled ‘Walur ke Kinaray’, Gelani sahib has observed that “When (the) gun lost control, militants lost the moral standing.” Though he wrote this in a different context, but after seeing how the HM has suddenly changed its core ideology and the catastrophic impact it will have on the Kashmir struggle, one has to admit that Geelani sahib’s deep-rooted apprehensions regarding the ‘armed struggle’ weren’t misplaced!

Related articles