Urging India and Pakistan to de-escalate tension and not resort to war and violence, the chairman of Hurriyat Conference (M) Mirwaiz Umar Farooq Wednesday alleged that the present dispensation at New Delhi was using Kashmir as a “whipping boy” for electoral gains as general elections in the country are round the corner.
The Hurriyat (M) chief had convened a press conference at his Nigeen residence here but the police barred journalists from entering the premises. Later, Mirwaiz issued a statement.
“Firstly, the leadership and people of Kashmir greatly urge India and Pakistan not to escalate the situation and desist from warmongering which will be a disaster for the entire region,” Mirwaiz said, adding that they urge both the governments that, as has been seen in the past, escalation and war can never resolve the issues.
“Only talking to each other is the way forward. Hurriyat reiterates the call for dialogue,” he said.
There is a threatening and grave atmosphere created by “the authoritarian state across Kashmir and people are being psychologically intimidated”, Mirwaiz said.
“Journalists and media are being targeted and two newspapers are facing reprisals,” he said.
“Keeping in view this wave of repression and intimidation, coercive raids were conducted at the residences of resistance leadership including Muhammad Yasin Malik, Shabir Ahmad Shah, Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai, Naseem Geelani and others by the NIA on Tuesday. The NIA team also raided my house from 8am to 6pm. A cordon was laid around my house by a large number of paramilitary forces”.
Mirwaiz said around 15 to 20 people from the NIA, accompanied by two local policemen, entered his house and office and thoroughly searched it.
“The houses of my relatives who live around me were also searched. After these thorough coercive searches, certain items were confiscated by the NIA team, including my laptop and phones, hard drives from my office computers, press releases of Hurriyat and Anjuman Auqaf Jamia Masjid letterheads and records of Kashmiri students studying in Pakistan medical colleges recommended by Hurriyat,” he said.
Mirwaiz said he was not given a copy of magisterial order for the searches.
“When the NIA team left, I was not given the seizure memo of things seized from me which is ideally a norm. When I asked for it, I was told to approach the court,” he said. “Later, the NIA in its press release issued in the evening used word ‘incriminating evidence’ which is a matter of concern. There was nothing so-called incriminating that was seized. Since I was not given the seizure memo, any mischief can be done”.
Mirwaiz also said that it was also said that “a high-tech internet communication was also recovered”.
“This actually is a simple internet lease line by a private company which is commonly used in media offices and at homes for good and uninterrupted internet use. The word ‘recovered’ is part of a propaganda to give an impression as if it was something hidden that has been discovered,” he said.
“We will approach international organisations as these intimidating and threatening tactics are being adopted against the leadership and activists by the authorities, which are completely undemocratic and totalitarian.”
Mirwaiz said: “Ours is a peaceful political movement but there is a deliberate design to link it with violence and through that route, harass, intimidate and malign us”.
“Simultaneously”, Mirwaiz said, “a viscous and steady campaign to demonise Kashmiris and generate hate against us is promoted, especially through electronic media to justify repression against the people and action against us and to project the people’s just struggle for self-determination as an enterprise”.
“The great sacrifices and struggle of the people offered for the resolution of the Kashmir dispute are undermined. Propaganda has taken over reality and people of India are being deliberately misled and fed lies,” he said. “It is not difficult to understand that at the time of elections in India, when other things have failed for the rulers, Kashmir is being used like a whipping boy and people of Kashmir are being targeted, threatened and intimidated to polarise Indian voters and garner votes”.
Mirwaiz said the threats of removing Articles 370 and 35 A—which grant special status to Jammu and Kashmir—are kept “hanging over our heads like a Damocles sword to be used as and when the electoral situation for them demands”.
“Let the rulers know that people of Kashmir will defend this Article at all costs. Whether leadership is in jails or out of it, if any tinkering is done with it, people will be on streets. No one in J&K is going to take this assault on our identity and disputed status lying low (sic),” Mirwaiz said.
He said the Hurriyat believes in dialogue to resolve the “issue.”
“We have walked the talk when it came to engagement and did so in the past even at huge risks and sacrifice. We do not want war and violence,” he said. “We want our youth to live and prosper and not be forced to a violent path. But that cannot happen through repression and coercion. That can only happen when the sentiment and aspirations of Kashmiris are addressed in its human and historical context”.