Repression is forcing Kashmiri youth to pick up arms, the chairman of Hurriyat Conference (G) Syed Ali Geelani has said and expressed serious concern over the prevailing situation in the Valley.
In an exclusive interview with Greater Kashmir, Geelani—who is under continuous house arrest for the past nearly eight years—talked about various issues, maintaining that tripartite talks between India, Pakistan and the people of Kashmir can be a way forward on Kashmir, but UN resolutions will help resolve the longstanding dispute.
'SENTIMENT CAN'T BE KILLED'
"New Delhi has been continuing its harsh repression in Kashmir. The scale of abuse and humiliation that it has subjected Kashmiris to is known to all. And this intransigence and utter barbarity have always closed doors. They have left no option for youth than to take up arms," he said.
After a militant is killed, more youth spontaneously pick up arms, Geelani said, adding: "But killing those who have taken up arms will not kill the sentiment and idea of freedom."
The octogenarian leader hailed the resolve of Kashmiris, particularly women, saying they are "rendering unflinching sacrifices for the ongoing movement."
"New Delhi wants to project its violence which is a part of its illegal control as legitimate and make all dissent illegitimate. Then it tries to make the response of youth also criminal. But those false divisions have collapsed; people rushing to encounter sites to rescue militants is one aspect of it. Killing people or blinding, jailing and hounding protestors will not kill or even dent the idea of freedom," he said.
'DELHI NOT SINCERE'
Geelani maintained that the resistance leadership in Kashmir has always stressed that dialogue between the three parties to the dispute—India, Pakistan and people of Kashmir—is a way forward.
"We have also agreed to talks in the past, but New Delhi resorts to 'doublespeak' and the utter lies about those talks have always been exposed. As Kashmiris have noted, New Delhi uses the idea of talks and tries to deal with some situation and hoodwink the world on what it is doing in Kashmir, not as a sincere means of establishing peace."
'STRUGGLE WILL CONTINUE'
About future course of action, Geelani said: "We will keep pursuing our struggle. There is no power on earth which can change the course of a nation which has sacrificed so much for the cause of freedom. We have always called on the Indian government to accept the realities. If they are not even ready to accept that Kashmiris are the main party to the dispute, then what peace are they talking about?"
"Kashmiris know that their struggle is just and also has the backing of international law. We will keep calling on international bodies and the world community to do more to make New Delhi accept the realities in Kashmir. Sooner or later, New Delhi will have to accept it and Kashmiris will take their struggle to the logical conclusion of freedom," Geelani said.
'NOT ALLOWED TO OFFER FRIDAY PRAYERS'
He said his continuous house arrest is taking a toll on his health. "Being under constant house arrest for the last eight years, I have been unable to even offer Friday prayers, not to talk of Eid prayers. The overall space for pro-freedom leaders has been squeezed as New Delhi wants that we should be cut off from our people. They don't even want us to reach out to our people or condole and console with them in times of grief," he said.
'PLIGHT OF PRISONERS TERRIBLE'
Geelani said the plight of political prisoners, including youngsters, in jails is "terrible."
"Here also, New Delhi flouts every law on the treatment of prisoners. The persecution of dissenters and pro-freedom leaders under false and absurd charges has also been heightened. Even basic religious freedoms are flagrantly violated here," he said.
'WON'T ALLOW CHANGE IN DEMOGRAPHY'
Asked about the difference in Kashmir policy during the rule of Congress and BJP, he said: "the arrogant and brutal policy has always existed under various regimes in New Delhi."
"The RSS now uses its political face, the BJP, to try and infuse Hindutva ideology into repression. They want to implement what their Israeli friend, rather partners in crime, tried to do in occupied Palestine. Using the name of Article 35A or 370 is part of this policy. But we will also resist this as it is an attempt to change land and population holdings and demography in Kashmir," Geelani said.
'UN RESOLUTIONS ONLY WAY OUT'
He said the only way Kashmir can be resolved is by implementing UN resolutions.
"If New Delhi is serious, which it is not, it should have held a plebiscite. After all, if it says 'Kashmir belongs to India' why not to hold the plebiscite? But they know they are brutally holding our land and our people. So they try the democracy 'tamasha'," he said.
Geelani rejected all elections in Kashmiris, saying "these are imposed by hook or by crook to force people to participate."
"They (government of India) use local collaborators and parties to say these elections are for roads, water and electricity. But later try to convert these votes into an imaginary referendum. Kashmiri people should fully understand this demeaning and ugly drama and boycott all these elections imposed under names and categories," he said.