No Prolonged Shutdown
GEELANI DOESN’T WANT PEOPLE TO SUFFER, WRITES JAVAID MALIK
The chairman of Hurriyat Conference (G) Syed Ali Shah Geelani announcing that his conglomerate has no plans of giving any calls of prolonged shutdowns this year has relieved many people. "There is no programme for prolonged shutdowns or for violent protests. We are not in favour of damaging the tourist season or of disrupting educational activities this year," Geelani announced last week. He said the killing of youth in Machil sector in Kupwara and other places in the Valley had forced the people to hit the streets last year.
Geelani has put the ball in government’s court. He has maintained that the onus to maintain peace lies with the government and its forces. The Hurriyat (G) chairman has dispelled the notion about “Khoon ka badla June Mein layange.”
It seems many of us have forgotten that “Quit Kashmir Movement” in 2010 was launched by the Hurriyat (G) General Secretary Masrat Alam Bhat after the killing of teenage boy in old city. The first protest calendar was issued by Bhat, who is presently behind bars, and not Geelani, as the veteran leader had been arrested prior to that.
The foundation of 5-month long unrest in 2010 was laid in January itself and by June situation had taken an ugly turn. Street protests against killings in most parts of the Valley were spontaneous. Separatist leaders just rode on the popular wave. Most of them agreed that people were leading them instead of them leading the masses.
Many analysts described 2010 unrest as “leaderless agitation.” However, people blindly followed the protest calendars which were issued regularly on weekly basis by Hurriyat (G). To counter strikes and chalo calls authorities imposed curfew and resorted to various means to break the resolve of protesters.
The government preferred to keep Geelani under detention at sub-jail Chesmashahi in the early days of “Quit Kashmir Movement.” But it did not help the government’s cause. Geelani was released in the midst of the summer unrest with the hope that he could guide the angry youth.
Geelani after his release had asked youth not to pelt stones and keep the protests peaceful. “Don’t give an excuse to forces to target you,” Geelani had said immediately after his release. Many people within Geelani’s camp opposed him for asking youth to refrain from stone pelting. But Geelani remained steadfast on his appeal.
The veteran leader on many occasions tried to make people understand that he was not for shutdowns as he understood that frequent and prolonged strikes were taking a toll on the common people. But on the other hand he had no option other than to carry on with the protest program. Had Geelani called off the strike in between and asked people to resume their daily chores most of us would have accused him of betraying the cause.
This too is a fact that most of us in 2010 left no stone unturned to criticize Geelani’s calendar. None of us tried to asses the compulsions which forced Geelani to carry on with the protest program.
When the All Party Delegation visited Valley last year and some of its members decided to call on Geelani, the veteran leader insisted that he would talk to them in presence of media and there would be no closed door talks. His insistence to talk in full media glare proved that he too was not also sure about how people would react to his meeting with parliamentarians. So there was uncertainty everywhere.
Geelani was the most watched man in the most “uncertain time” of the Kashmir history. No one wanted to talk openly when the Kashmir was burning and everyone was looking towards the old man. Isn’t it amazing that none of us, including our young leaders, had the courage and will to come forward to share Geelani’s burden.
Everyone turned his back towards Geelani to ensure that let him only be blamed for the failure of “Quit Kashmir Movement.” Most of us knew it very well that prolonged shutdown won’t serve any purpose. Instead of speaking it out we watched every move of Geelani keenly and preferred to act as mute spectators.
Now, Geelani has made his intentions very clear and his statement that there are no plans of prolonged shutdowns this year clearly indicate that he is not for strikes. He has given a befitting reply to those who are propagating that he is waiting for a chance to trigger unrest.
Despite Geelani putting the ball in government’s court, authorities have pressed the panic button well in advance. Forces are carrying out a mock drill to ensure peaceful summer. Recently government had asked the hoteliers, who wish to accommodate Darbar move employees from Jammu, to ensure that there is enough stock of ration and essential commodities.
One fails to understand why there is so much of panic around. After the “Quit Kashmir Movement” faded away towards the end of the last year, no major stone pelting incident has been reported from any part of the Valley. Neither have been any fake encounters been reported, nor has been any teenage boy been hit by a police teargas shell.
Geelani has maintained that if there are no killings peace would prevail. Till date government to a great extent has succeeded in reining its forces. Police and paramilitary forces seem to have realized that unarmed people need to be dealt with in more humane ways; and bullets are no answer.
Recently Director General of Police Kuldeep Khoda had said that a ‘joint strategy’ had been devised by the state police in coordination with other security agencies to ensure peaceful summer in Kashmir Valley this year. “We will ensure that nothing goes wrong this year and people go by their normal life without any trouble,” he had said.
Both Geelani and DGP seem to have declared a “ceasefire” as none of them seems to be in a mood to allow repetition of 2010. Geelani doesn’t want people to suffer. He has been reiterating that strike is the last option in peaceful struggle.
Apparently Geelani seems to have made up his mind for this summer. On the other hand police also want a peaceful summer, at least ostensibly it seems so. At this point of time peace seems to top the agenda of the people who matter. There are rumors that some people with vested interests don’t want peace to prevail in the Valley and they can go to any extent to ensure that they succeed in their designs. If they do succeed then Kashmir can witness another hot summer. Let us see whether law enforcing agencies are able to keep these trouble mongers at bay or not.
All of us need to understand that Kashmir is not about maintaining law and order. It is a political issue and it needs to be resolved. Separatist leaders should ensure that Kashmir issue doesn’t lose its political significance. They can do so by concentrating on various aspects of Kashmir issue rather than getting stuck in a debate on prolonged shutdowns and violent agitation. Since 1989, when armed rebellion broke out in the Valley, many summers have come and gone but no summer has brought any news about when Kashmir issue would be settled, once for all.
Let us hope that coming summer remains peaceful and some headway is made towards resolving the vexed Kashmir imbroglio.
Lastupdate on : Mon, 14 Mar 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 14 Mar 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 15 Mar 2011 00:00:00 IST
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