Srinagar, Dec 10: Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik Monday said Kashmir desperately needed a united voice so that the ‘bigger cause’ is pursued effectively.
Talking to Greater Kashmir on the sidelines of a seminar at Maisuma here, Malik said, “Division among leadership is division of people of Kashmir. Not just India but the world community sees Kashmir as a divided nation. My stand is when we are fighting for a bigger cause, there is a need for a united voice. There are certainly some differences but we have to walk together for a bigger cause.”
Many participants in the seminar, organized by JKLF to commemorate the world human rights day, pressed for unity among the separatist leadership with a Common Minimum Program.
Malik said the forces already have powers to kill people following the presence of ‘draconian’ laws like AFSPA and PSA. “The fresh life-sentence announced against two people is the cases of early ’90s. Same verdicts have been announced against 29 Kashmiris who have already served 15 years in prison.”
Malik threatened, “If Government of India doesn’t stop awarding life-sentence to Kashmiris, JKLF would start a jail bharo movement.”
The JKLF chairman said they started armed resistance in 1988 which attracted world attention towards Kashmir issue. “When we were in jails, the Indian civil society members visited us and tried to persuade us for a peaceful struggle. Now the same civil society has adopted a criminal silence over the life sentences against Kashmiri people,” he said.
Earlier, addressing the seminar that was attended by many intellectuals, human rights activists and victims of human rights violations, Hurriyat (M) leader Shabir Ahmad Shah said he doesn’t shy away from the fact that separatist leadership in Kashmir could not be institutionalized. “We should have been a single institutionalized forum. But we could not do that so far,” he said.
He said every separatist leader owes everything to the martyrs of Kashmir. “If somebody is going to foreign countries, it is because of the sacrifices. Those who are trying to sell the sacrifices won’t even get a piece of land for their graves,” Shah said without naming any group or a person. He said forging unity among the Hurriyat leadership was his dream. “But my dream of uniting every leader is still unfulfilled. The step taken by JKLF is a step towards unity and I appreciate it,” he said. “I will continue to put in my best to see entire separatist leadership on a single platform.”
Shah, who heads Democratic Freedom Party, said freedom won’t come all of a sudden. “We have to offer sacrifices and keep fighting for our goal. We have already offered five lakh sacrifices and the process is on,” he said.
Shah stressed on formulating a Common Minimum Program by the separatist leadership. He said a sustained campaign should be launched for demilitarization, revocation of AFSPA and PSA.
JKLF vice-chairman Advocate Bashir Ahmed Bhat said the party founder Maqbool Bhat had made an announcement before his hanging in 1984 that “Kashmir issue won’t get buried by my hanging. Every lane in Kashmir will produce many Maqbools.”
He said New Delhi failed in its mission even after “using all tools to suppress the voice of Kashmiris.” “New Delhi should read the writing on the wall that it can’t kill the sentiment,” he said. “The campaign started by JKLF is not aimed at just to see end of human rights abuses but to achieve complete freedom.”
Speaking on the occasion, chairman National Front, Nayeem Ahmed Khan, said the recent verdicts were condemnable. “The Government of India is punishing those who have already been punished,” he said. “We want the world to see what the world’s biggest democracy has done in Kashmir. We want to show the international community that how brutal Government of India has been in Kashmir. We want to show the international community how Kashmir witnessed custodial killings, rapes, fake encounters and how innocents were buried in the mass graves,” Nayeem said.
JKLF (H) chairman, Javaid Ahmad Mir, said not just the Indian civil society, but America and even Europe chipped in to ensure peaceful struggle in Kashmir. “We even announced ceasefire but in return, Government of India filled prisons and used Kashmir for its vote bank politics,” he said. “Kashmiris were made scapegoats for the petty political interests by New Delhi. The leadership in New Delhi seems to have modified the principles of Mahatma Gandhi by imposing might is right policy on Kashmir. Today, we can smell Hitler’s rule from New Delhi’s intentions,” Mir said.
Professor Sheikh Showkat Hussain said earlier there was a proper rule for slapping life sentences. “It could have been either 10 years or even less. The practice was in place for past 100 years. But, all of a sudden the meaning of lifers was changed and now life sentence means to die in the prison,” he said. “This is strange and needs to be given a serious thought. For that, we need to reach out to every segment of Indian society.”
Advocate Bashir Sidiq said during a visit of lawyers, who were part of High Court Bar Association delegation to various prisons across the State, they found prisoners in a very bad condition. “Some had even lost memory and could not remember their names. It is high time we should not let the JKLF campaign die down,” he said and advocated that an appeal should be filed before the courts to challenge the fresh lifers against Kashmiris.
Columnist Abdul Majid Zargar said earlier life sentences were given in rarest of rare cases. “It is not easy to kill the sentiment of freedom as it is present in the blood of every Kashmiri.”
Prominent writer Dr Altaf Hussain said December 10 is a day of mourning for Kashmir. “If we compare judgments in rest of India with Kashmir, difference is easy to identity. The bias, non-seriousness, injustice reflects from the judgments announced against Kashmiri people,” he said. Among those who participated in the seminar included columnists Z G Muhammad and Dr Javaid Iqbal, poet and writer Rehman Rahi, Arjumand Hussain Talib. APDP chairperson Perveena Ahanger was also present in the seminar.