That was a plain attempt to defile Geelani, Hassan Zainagiree reacts to S Rashid's article.
Two gushing streams flowing out from the same Gangotree. 'Of will and conviction and leadership' by Er. S Rashid and 'Profiling Geelani or slandering the rest' by S Rashid are Siamese twins, together as Me, and sharing sibling strains of the same "fertile" mind.
The piece by Er. S Rashid is in denial of any role to the leaders of resistance camp whether in 'conceptualizing the sentiments' or acting as psychological triggers. It also reflects the frustration for getting 'packed off' and hence a tirade against Mirwaiz Umar Farooq for joining Geelani. For emerging a symbol of resistance, Geelani, however, is the main target.
The author says the 1987 rigged elections gave birth to an armed struggle in nineties and Amarnath land row unleashed mass uprising. In both cases, thus, the leaders have nothing of their own to offer. We can be in disagreement with the resistance leadership on many counts but no one in his senses can plummet himself down to such a negative bind. If rigged elections have been instrumental in triggering the Kalashinkoff arm of our movement, it was because that Delhi and its puppet Farooq Abdullah were afraid of the Muslim United Front (MUF) assuming power through ballot paper. Fear of losing to MUF forced them to rigging. Had MUF not been in the picture, could the events have unfolded the way they did? For the first time NC in decades of its supremacy and machismo suffered cracks in its edifice and MUF emerged as the formidable voice of people sweeping length and breadth of Kashmir. Whose hands acted as the 'psychological trigger propelling the sentiment into a pro-active state'? Similarly, how much thick the debate about the spontaneity of the recent upsurge against the transfer of land to Shrine Board goes, the truth, however, is it was anchored by the pro-freedom camp, with Syed Ali Shah Geelani being the helmsman. The local media, intellectuals and opinion makers created the much needed awareness and forewarned people of the dangerous implications of the move (Cabinet decision of 23 May), and sinister designs behind in doing Palestine on Kashmir. The octogenarian, one-kidneyed, frail Geelani led from the front much before the people in General began to rise up from the lisping stage. Only a man maliciously intoxicated can keep himself blind folded from such stark reality.
When Geelani with "neelami zameen key manzoor nahin" (sale of land unacceptable) slogan was mobilizing people and thwarting all attempts directed at dilution of basic sentiments (azadi), the 'articulate' stuff of the movement was ridiculing at Geelani's stand and stressing people to blend sentiments with 'pragmatism' and 'realism'. Seminars were being organized where people were being asked to 'accept something lesser than freedom' and 'identify the middle way between freedom and the present position and 'concentrate' on 'something' Indians are to throw at your begging bowl. 'Freedom isn't MacDonald's burger' you can relish, was the sarcasm played with sardonic smile. In the guise of 'Achievable Nationhood' Kashmiris were stressed upon to accept India's position over Kashmir as a political given and out of this political given an 'achievable' solution was to be hammered out. It was the time when 'old man of the sea', unmindful of the sniggers cracked on him, was navigating the ship of resistance through with exemplary courage and steadfastness.
The 'will and conviction of the people to wage a relentless battle in pursuit of their objectives' vindicated Geelani and his stand. He often used to admonish/advise leaders that have got 'tired' to take rest in their comforts instead of getting snared into Delhi's machination and seduced to making compromises on the very basics of Kashmiri's freedom movement. And today even an illiterate vendor selling bananas, not to speak of educated youth, salutes Geelani for his steadfastness.
The intifadah the movement has graduated into after the Nation Kashmir woke up to face a new challenge, on one side, added lusture to Geelani's credibility and accorded to his 'extremist' and 'hard-line' stand a de-facto and de-jure recognition on the other hand, it provided breathing space to the groups that were gradually drifting away from the Kashmir mainstream sentiment. Geelani riding on the crest of mass support could have got swayed to carve his own separate dukedom, but he preferred to evolve a common strategy in pursuit of greater objective freedom. He embraced Mirwaiz ignoring past bitterness, and welcomed Yasin Malik.
How many from' moderate' Hurriyat should have been accommodated to swell the 'exclusive leadership club'? Doesn't Mirwaiz represent his faction? Where does come the question of 'side-lining' Professor Abdul Gani Bhat in the race of leadership? Besides is Professor Gani a non-entity who has to depend for his political survival on others? Such a comment belittles the 'only leader with a potential for intellectual inputs? And those who feel they have been 'packed off' need to turn search light inwards than yelling at others and indulging in nitpicking. They must know that freedom movements do not feed reconciled nothingness in spoon of 'something'. How ignominious it is when the will of the politician to sustain struggle caves in Geelani becomes whipping boy for pursuing 'ill-conceived boycott politics'. It is tragedy when struggle enters in 'pro-active' phase, attempts are made from our own ranks to fizzle out the steam of conviction and will of the people. And repeat Abdullah.
Rashid complains we are an unhappy lot for the sole reason of that 'visionary leadership' eludes us as it did in nineties. And himself spells out the contours of 'visionary leadership': agreeing on a 'negotiated settlement' when the 'bargaining advantages' are on your side. Rashid blames Geelani for proving spoil sport. Can we ask when has Indians shown sincerity in having a 'negotiated settlement' in synch with the genuine aspirations of the people?
Only once Hizbul Mujahideen announced a unilateral ceasefire some bargaining chips we had to play with. Mind it at that time 'moderate leader with a potential for intellectual inputs'-Professor Abdul Gani-was the chairman of the APHC. Without going into merits of the Hizb's initiative (of which this column was the ardent supporter), the point is Huryat under chairmanship of a 'moderate Professor', in one voice, rejected Hizb's initiative. That in face of Delhi's insincerity and intransigence move got aborted is another story. Even when 'bargaining advantage' nudges in 'favor of Kashmiris', Indians track record shows it buys time and talks for sake of talk. Listen what an insider reveals and see what 'negotiated settlement' means to Delhi. Praveen Swami in his book 'India, Pakistan and the Secret Jihad-the covert war in Kashmir, 1947-2004' writes: "Policy makers in new Delhi wanted to create polarization between HM, Laskar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e- Mohammad and other organizations and buy time to counter the fidayeen attacks which had taken 555 fatalities of Indian army, after the start of fidayeen attacks from August 1999.638 in the next year till India declared 'unilateral' ceasefire to coax Majid Dar and his company to start peace talks".
A nation that has everything at stake craves for amicable settlement. More than anyone else. Every time we are/were in 'pro-active' state in sentiments, more ruthless became the Indians to crush us down. Just have glimpse of the unprecedented massive protest which inundated streets of Kashmir recently. The democratic verdict was answered in terms of bullets, curfews, arrests, PSA's and cyclone of terror. In theses sacred moments what should we do? Defoliate aspiration and defile the sanctity of the cause by 'negotiating' surrender or maintain courage and resilience to pursue our goal of freedom. It was because Shiekh Abdullah did not sustain the cause of freedom, at crucial time we have got sucked deep in the morass.
We protest for resolution of Kashmir, for making India and world see the ground realities. The current upsurge is in pursuit of Azadi, not for a 'leadership battle'. It is in tune with the pious desires and demands of the freedom loving people that Geelani- Mirwaiz- Malik trio have got united on one point agenda: to liberate Kashmir from India. And it is this unity that gives Rashid and his patrons sleepless nights. As humans, Freudian slip leaders too make. Geelani is not an angel. But tendering apology speaks volumes of his moral courage and adds to his stature.
'Rouge elements have been packed in to create an impression of a leadership platform', Rashid growls in anger. Rashid has every right to berate any leader, any individual. But to use the expression 'rouge elements' is too abusive and derogatory. Even intolerable. Hate is a strong drug that can drive a man into stupor.
Tail Piece: if Geelani and other leaders spearheading the movement have become redundant, why India is afraid of them? Why they are caged in their houses, or jailed under PSA? Why their Srinagar Challo call forces authorities to declare undeclared Martial Law? Count how many times Geelani is allowed to step out of his residence. How many times his fundamental right to religious freedom is infringed on. Can we ask when Delhi has not spared even woman leader like Aasia Indrabi why 'articulate' leaders are not touched? The difference between conviction and capitulation tells that all.
(The author can be reached at email@example.com)