Can anyone make Hurriyat see reason?

Jasbir Sarai

Syed Ali Shah Geelani is daring Omar Abdullah to give permission to him to hold a rally at Lal Chowk to demonstrate the representative nature of his organisation and his movement which, he insists, reflects the aspirations of the people of Kashmir. Geelani’s ire had been invited by a recent statement made by the Chief Minister. “Let the people decide who is going to represent them,” is what Omar had said. All said and done, one has to admire the gumption of this old man (Geelani) when it comes to playing politics; he stands politically marginalised, his health is falling, yet, he is not ready to give up on his long lost cause.

Bravado, however, cannot set aside reality. Geelani has been exposed as a self serving person who manipulates the system for personal gains. He is facing a number of criminal charges; a case has been registered against him by the Jammu and Kashmir Police charging him with attempt to murder and stone pelting. A Delhi court has commenced a case against his close aide Ghulam Mohd Bhat, and three others, for running a Hawala racket. The charges against all the four accused have been framed under various sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Despite irrefutable evidence of the unlawful activities that he seems to be involved in, Geelani feels no embarrassment in posing as a leader of stature and in looking for political mileage every time an opportunity presents itself.

Interestingly, Geelani is not the only one who is in doldrums in the separatist camp. The entire faction ridden conglomerate seems to be falling apart with its leaders following different agendas. One of their tallest Hurriyat leaders, Abdul Ghani Bhat, had earlier cause a lot of ripples by stating that Hurriyat leaders of yore were killed by militants and not security forces as consistently implied by the separatist camp. He has now stirred yet another Hornets nest by stating that United Nations resolutions on Kashmir cannot be applied in the present situation. The dumb struck Hurriyat Chairman, Mirwaiz Omar Farooq, hastily called a meeting of all prominent leaders to dispel the damage caused by this statement to the carefully cultivated holier than thou image of the conglomerate.

Sadly for the Hurriyat, the meeting convened to devise a new, acceptable to all strategy, degenerated into a free for all amongst the various factions on the sensitive subject of control of finances. Some unfortunate, misguided youth were indoctrinated and pushed into militancy by the Hurriyat and sacrificed on the altar of personal ambition. In a weak attempt to legitimise the open murder, these hapless souls were projected as “martyrs” and a fund was created to provide financial assistance to their families. In the aforementioned meeting, supporters of Bilal Lone were seen openly shouting slogans against Shabbir Shah, demanding an account of the funds collected for the families of these so-called ‘martyrs”. It is evident that the Hurriyat leadership has complete lack of faith in each other when it comes to money and they have no hesitation in playing the blame game openly, even on sensitive subjects like their ‘martyrs”. It seems that no adversity is big enough to hold back these leaders from personal gain.

The much hassled Mirwaiz Omar Farooq had no option but to get into damage control mode. While insisting that all was well in the Hurriyat he tried to explain the logic behind shunning power and responsibility. “People have not offered sacrifices for governance but for freedom and the elections cannot ease the pain and agony they have gone through,” he said. What the Hurriyat consistently fails to elaborate is its open sponsorship of the foreign hand which has caused debilitating misery to the people of Kashmir and led to avoidable sacrifice of their lives, their homes and their peace of mind. Is this the freedom that the people should be looking for?

Coming back to the question of money; there is a long pending demand for enquiries into the opulent lifestyle that Hurriyat leaders lead while working on their so-called revolution. Geelani is already under investigation. Now, this latest in-house agitation amongst the Hurriyat leadership should propel the government to initiate a few more enquiries by the department of vigilance. The routes of funding are fairly well known. The threefold economy of the State comprising of financial packages from the government of India, the Hawala route and the fake currency market is an open secret. Many conduits for all the illegal routes of financing have been arrested. Why then is the government not instituting enquiries and booking culprits?

It is a boon for the people of Kashmir that these irresponsible leaders have chosen to stay out of governance, there being no doubt that they would have messed up the whole system. When they cannot see eye to eye between themselves how would they be expected to serve the people? Imagine a scenario where Mirwaiz is the Chief Minister, Geelani the Home Minister, Shabbir Shah the Finance Minister and Bilal Lone the tourism minister of the State. They will not require an opposition to derail their government, being quite capable of doing it on their own. Abdul Ghani Bhat is a forward looking leader, instead of getting into conflict with him the other Hurriyat leaders should try to gain from his insight and go for a course correction. There is ample political space in Indian democracy to cater for diverse ideas, thoughts and ideologies. This is the only democratic Nation that has allowed communism to coexist legally and thrive politically. If the Hurriyat leaders shun divisiveness and enter the political process they will serve the people and themselves better. Can anyone make them see reason?

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