Hurriyat (M) a democratic forum, doesn’t believe in violence: Bhat

‘We led a dialogue in 2004 and 2005 despite tremendous backlash and sacrifices’
Photo: Aman Farooq/ GK
Photo: Aman Farooq/ GK

The Hurriyat Conference (M) is a democratic forum which doesn't believe in any form of violence and its chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has himself been a victim of violence, a senior leader of the party Abdul Gani Bhat said on Wednesday. He also said the organisation has no connection with any "militancy funding" and that Mirwaiz is ready to cooperate with any investigative agency "provided the atmosphere is not hostile".

Addressing media soon after chairing an "emergency" meetingof the Hurriyat executive, general council and working committee at the party'sRajbagh headquarters here, Bhat said: "Let there be no mistake about it thatHurriyat, as a forum, is democratic in essence and does not believe in violencein any form or manifestation, let alone militancy funding".

The meeting was convened to discuss the NationalInvestigation Agency's summon to Mirwaiz and the prevailing situation inKashmir.

The NIA had on March 9 sent a notice to Mirwaiz asking himto appear in person before its court in New Delhi on March 11 in connectionwith the 2017 case filed into alleged funding of militancy in Kashmir. The Mirwaiz,however, decided not to fly to Delhi, citing "hostile atmosphere" and "securityconcerns."

Bhat, however, said that Mirwaiz has made it absolutelyclear that he is willing to cooperate with any investigation (in Srinagar).

"What is upsetting is that a hostile environment is beingwillfully created to cause harassment," he said.

"The Hurriyat (M) chairman himself is the victim ofviolence," Bhat, who was flanked by senior Hurriyat (M) leader Bilal Gani Lone,said.

"As a matter of fact, the forum has all along been activelysupporting efforts aimed at building relations between India and Pakistan,which is where our position to resolve the (Kashmir) dispute through talksneeds to be appreciated".

Bhat said the Hurriyat was launched in June 1993 as a "symbolof political unity in Kashmir with a view to preserve the idea through itsthick and thin."

"Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, a young boy, had the honour to be itsfirst chairman in recognition of his politico-religious background. Herepresents an office which is so sacred that any interference in any form or atany level with his position is extremely likely to inflict a wound deep intothe collective political consciousness of Kashmir," Bhat said.

"The conglomerate has passed through thick and thin.However, what is striking about it is that it preserves the beauty of unity ofpurpose at all costs. We are determined to preserve it in future as well. Wedid actually do the talking with the leadership in governments across thesub-continent with a view to work out an acceptable and just solution of thedispute on Kashmir."

Bhat said that in fact "we were the ones who led thedialogue in 2004 and 2005 despite tremendous backlash and sacrifice".

"In June 2004, Mirwaiz's uncle was killed and his housebombed. The Islamia school was burnt down. Yet he (Mirwaiz) did not give up andcontinued talking to Manmohan Singh (former PM). That speaks a lot about hiscommitment to the peaceful resolution of Kashmir," Bhat said. "To accuse him(Mirwaiz) of having anything to do with the alleged terror funding isridiculous and nothing but a political vendetta".

"In the interest of all, now is the time we consider biggerissues than involve in nerve-breaking tactics," he said.

"Remember, present (situation) is different. We will have to rise above and take the lead ourselves. However, the Hurriyat appreciates US, China, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Britain for their efforts towards ensuring that the situation doesn't go out of hand," Bhat said. "India and Pakistan as nuclear powers can hardly exhibit laxity towards tomorrow.

We have to live together and live peacefully to ensure prosperity and development. What constitutes an obstacle will have to be addressed. Talks are the call of times."

Bhat, the senior-most executive committee member of theHurriyat, in an obvious reference to Delhi, said: "Let's take the call and moveahead towards a brighter future and a better region".

"We can hardly afford to live with tension, acrimony andill-will," he said.

He said that Mirwaiz also heads social and educationalinstitutions, Auqaf Jamia Masjid, Anjuman-Nusrat-ul-Islam and Darul Khair,which are "all completely accounted for institutions, audited each year".

"People give donations to these organisations. During the2014 deluge, in just 15 days—through Mirwaiz-led  mobilization—we could raise funds to the tuneof Rs 1 crore through Darul Khair," Bhat said.

Speaking on the occasion, Bilal Gani Lone said at thisjuncture, the entire Hurriyat leadership stands with the Mirwaiz and "we willnot allow the witch-hunt against our leader."

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