The All Party Hurriyat Conference, popularly referred to as the Hurriyat, is a Pakistan-sponsored separatist conglomerate based in the Kashmir Valley. Created on March 10, 1993, the Hurriyat is a loosely knit alliance of 26 secessionist political, social and religious organisations with an agenda to further Pakistan’s illegitimate claim over the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir.
The separatist onslaught propagated by Pakistan in the Kashmir Valley was designed to be played out on the political, administrative and economic machinery of the state as also on the minds and psyche of the Kashmiri people dwelling both within the valley and beyond. Pakistan has placed unlimited financial resources in the hands of the Hurriyat leadership to create as much mayhem and disruption in the Kashmir Valley as is possible.
The Hurriyat game plan, at the behest of Pakistan, is to project Kashmir at the international level as a Muslim issue wherein, an alien force has forcibly occupied a territory. The first intention is to ensure a regular flow of funds to Pakistan and onwards to Kashmir from a number of oil-rich Muslim nations. The second intention is to project India’s efforts to counter the terrorist assault as a human rights issue. Interestingly, the violation of the rights of Kashmiri Pundits and their resulting plight is never given any attention.
The modus operandi of the Hurriyat hinges on politics of disruption, distortion and divisiveness. It has created road blocks for all attempts to free the troubled region from the shadow of the gun and usher peace, prosperity and development which the people yearn for. It has set up a trail of allegations against both the government and the security forces through a well orchestrated propaganda campaign.
The Hurriyat leaders most blatantly exploit the weak economic conditions of the people to their advantage. The moment economic activity picks up in the valley some trouble is engineered to curtail the same. A good tourist season is cut short by some abhorrent terrorist activity. A good fruit season gets derailed by raising irrelevant issues. The aim is to keep the region backward and insecure so that the people can be controlled like puppets.
The Kashmiris are programmed by the Hurriyat to look at India with suspicion. Youth in the valley are de-motivated from pursuing studies in the rest of India by planting stories of discrimination where none exists. By painting the Hindu as a potential threat to the people of the valley, a sinister plan of social engineering has been put in place.
Despite its evil designs and malevolent intentions, the Hurriyat has not found the kind of political success that it was looking for even in the Kashmir Valley, let alone the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir. In fact, it has systematically dug its own grave due to its internal contradictions and ideological weaknesses.
The massive ego of its leadership is, by far, the biggest cause behind the decimation of the Hurriyat. In the last twenty two years it has split thrice. The first split came when Yasin Malik of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front decided to follow an independent course. The second breach was engineered in 2002 by the highly volatile and egoistic Syed Geelani; he took with him 12 constituents of the conglomerate and established the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat also called the Hurriyat (Geelani). The last split was orchestrated by the “rebel” group of Shabir Ahmad Shah, Nayeem Ahmad Khan, Mohammad Azam Inqlabi and Mohommad Yousuf Naqash. As a result, the Hurriyat now is a motley set of leaders with no standing whatsoever.
Corruption and misuse of funds by Hurriyat leaders has also dented its image. A recent news report has alleged that the Hurriyat leadership is charging 10-15 lakhs for the “sale” of each scholarship being given to the Kashmiri youth by universities in Pakistan. The report has sent shock waves across the valley and also in Pakistan.
The people are quite fed up by the obscurantist political line followed by the Hurriyat. Every effort made by the Central and the state government to seek a solution to the Kashmir problem has been met with stiff resistance from the Hurriyat. On innumerable occasions, offer for talks have been rejected on trivial grounds and rigid stands that leave no leverage for progress. Every developmental initiative is belittled by the leadership. People are also fed up with the endless calls for hartals (strikes), bandhs (lockouts) and incidents of stone pelting which lead to great economic and human loss.
The recent floods in Kashmir put the last nail in the coffin of the Hurriyat leadership. While the people were suffering the Hurriyat was nowhere to be seen. People feel that the money collected as Zakat (donation) for the cause of “independence” should have been diverted for flood relief purposes.
Even as a series of elections established Jammu and Kashmir as a functional and vibrant democracy, the Hurriyat has never demonstrated their representative character since they refuse to stand for elections. Mainstream political parties go to the people with their manifestos to get a mandate for their policies, while the separatists, like feudal lords, maintain a haughty aloofness. The conglomerate has, in any case, negligible political presence in the Jammu and the Ladakh region, and no say in the territories of the state illegally occupied by Pakistan. It is limited to a small portion of the Kashmir Valley.
The present diminished status of the Hurriyat has been explained lucidly in a piece in the Kashmir based newspaper, Greater Kashmir. “The Hurriyat soon turned into a bandwagon where almost everyone tried to look for a place, mostly not out of choice but out of compulsion,” it says.
It is to the credit of the people that they have seen through the corrupt, self serving and warped practices of the Hurriyat, for which reason, the organisation, in its 22 years of existence stands totally exposed and irrelevant.