Geelani and Maoists
……THEY HAVE NOTHING IN COMMON, WRITES AMIT KUSHARI
IS there anything common between the Hurriyat leaders and the Maoists? As far as I know their goals are quite different. A few days ago the Kashmiri separatist leader and chairman of Hurriyat Conference, Syed Ali Shah Geelani held two meetings in Delhi and Srinagar and on both the occasions he shared the platform with some Maoist sympathisers. As expected the Indian state came in for severe criticism. The Moaist sympathisers included an award winning writer also.
These two incidents sent shock waves throughout India and many people were outraged. They wanted immediate legal action against all of them. The nationalist political parties also demanded action against such people who openly criticise the Government of India, especially in the heart of Delhi where the government is stationed. It was reported that some Kashmiri students who were present in the seminar in Delhi raised their voices of protest and demonstrated against Syed Ali Shah Geelani.
This news report surprised me because it is a well known fact that Mr. Geelani enjoys tremendous support in Kashmir valley and is one of the tallest leaders in Kashmir. It is well known that the people of Kashmir respond spontaneously to the calls given by this leader. Going into the details of the news report, I found that the demonstrating “Kashmiri” students were actually Kashmiri Pandits (Hindus) and not Kashmiri Muslims. Pandits usually hold political views which are exactly opposite to those of the Kashmiri Muslims. Naturally so, because they had to leave their homes and flee Kashmir when the Muslims, in 1989 started their war of independence against India. Obviously the initial news reports were misleading as these reports did not specify that the demonstrating students were Pandits.
I find it really strange that a tall popular leader, like Geelani should share the stage with enemies of the Indian state like Maoists. Maoists want to overthrow the legally formed democratically elected government of India whereas the Kashmiri Muslims are fighting for their own political rights only; they have no intention of overthrowing the Indian state. Kashmiris have no enmity at all with the Indian people. They have a few qualities which are not easily found in the other races of India. Their sense of generosity (farakh dili), hospitality (mehman nawazi) polite behaviour (ekhlaq) are not so common in other parts of India.
The present violence in Kashmir is because the Kashmiris want some special political rights and the word “aazadi” need not necessarily mean outright secession from the Indian union. Perhaps all that they want is empowerment to decide most of the administrative and political issues themselves without always being overshadowed and bossed over by the authorities in Delhi.
Genuine dialogue with the people of Kashmir, specially through their true leaders, like Geelani and Mirwaiz Omar Farooq is therefore the need of the hour. If the valley of Kashmir has to remain within the political map of India, the Hurriyat leaders have to be won over by granting them massive political concessions and then an understanding on Kashmir with Pakistan may not be very difficult at the second stage. The Kashmir interlocutors in my opinion have not said anything wrong or improper if they have said that for a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir problem dialogue with Pakistan was absolutely necessary. It is amazing that some political parties could find fault with such obviously true statements. Kashmir has always been a bilateral dispute between India and Pakistan .
We hear that a case of sedition has been registered against Gilani. Going to prison is nothing new for him. Like all popular leaders he has gone to jail often. He remained imprisoned in a small prison cell in Ranchi for a long period till the then Central government decided to release him.
Political leaders who genuinely represent certain aspirations of the people usually cannot be cowed down by registering cases against them. Mr. L K Advani could not be cowed down by registering cases against him in the Babri Demolition Case since he enjoys considerable support among the Hindus of India. Mr. Laldenga also could not be silenced by registering cases against him and ultimately the government of India had to do business with him.
Filing of political cases against such leaders only adds to their political glory and public support for them swells. If the Government of India files a case against Syed Ali Shah Gilani it will make him even more popular in Kashmir and it will be even more difficult for the government of India to bring him to the dialogue table or to do business with him later on.
On the contrary, what the Maoist sympathisers have done is condemnable and amounts to treachery with the Indian nation. The government should take all possible steps against such sophisticated “deshdrohis”, traitors to the nation.
The general reaction of many Indians to the utterances of the recently appointed interlocutors has been that of anger. This shows that many Indians, especially those who support right wing political parties are largely ignorant about the ground realities in Kashmir. I would like to tell them very clearly that if we remain strictly within the existing Indian constitution, the Kashmir problem cannot be solved amicably. A few constitutional amendments may be required to make the Kashmiris feel more comfortable as Indian citizens. We may not be able to withdraw the army from the Kashmir valley because that would endanger the security of Jammu, Ladakh and adjacent Himachal Pradesh. We also will not be able to let the Kashmiris discard their Indian passports - although these two steps would have perhaps made the Kashmiris very happy. Nor can we allow Pakistanis to enter Kashmir from Uri without an Indian visa because such a step would endanger the whole of India with militants from Pakistan entering our land freely.
However, leaving aside these three aspects we could give the Kashmiris a great feeling of independence if we agree to create a small semi independent Kashmir within the political boundaries of India comprising the entire Kashmir valley---Kupwara, Baramullah, Srinagar, Budgam, Islamabad and Pulwama districts.
We may have to amend the constitution for creating such a small semi independent territory within India with her own currency and own Prime Minister and own Election Commission. The interlocutors who are now assessing the situation there, should try to find out a solution on these lines and should hold consultations with Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Moulawi Farooq, Shabbir Shah, Asiya Andrabi (who has substantial following among the women of Kashmir) and also leaders of NC and PDP.
It is certainly not an easy task and the interlocutors will have to work very hard with an absolutely open and flexible mind. At every step they have to consult the Hurriyat leaders and the Indian government. If a basic understanding is reached, only then the government of India may try to take the Pakistanis into confidence. It is obvious that unless Pakistan cooperates, peace will remain elusive in Kashmir. In this delicate situation it will be sheer stupidity and tactlessness if the government tries to lodge cases against Syed Ali Shah Geelani and other important Kashmiri leaders.
(The writer who is a retired Financial Commissioner of J&K. Feedback at
Lastupdate on : Mon, 1 Nov 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 1 Nov 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 2 Nov 2010 00:00:00 IST
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