Beyond Hartals

  • Ink Correspondent
  • Publish Date: Aug 2 2017 9:39PM
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  • Updated Date: Aug 2 2017 9:39PM
Beyond Hartals

Should NIA arrests force Hurriyat to re-imagine its resistance? 

Last week when National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested eight resistance leaders, the Joint Resistance Group (JRL) called for a shutdown, a form of protest used extensively to display anti-state aspirations, in the Kashmir Valley. There was a storm against the call on the social media, demonizing the JRL ‘for the lack of strategy to resolve Kashmir issue,’ a rant that has now become rhetoric over the last many years.

At the end of 2016 uprising, that claimed 90 documented civilian deaths, and injured more than 15,000 by the government forces, the trio leaders had said that ‘the people have shown exemplary resistance which has emboldened the leadership,’ and will come up with a long-time sustainable strategy against the India rule. However no such strategy has come to fore since then?

Does the JRL fail to give ‘a long term strategy’ and use shutdowns mostly as a form of protest because it is ‘incompetent’ or because the means and ways to find one have been seized by the state? Hurriyat (M) Chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, one of the JRL leaders, told Kashmir Ink that since the uprising 2016 began, no meeting, an essential part to form a strategy, with Syed Ali Geelani, and Yaseen Malik, the two constituents of JRL, was possible because the government did not allow a meeting between them.

“We at personal levels have been studying ways of resistance for a quite a long time. We had to discuss them with each other and find an action plan. This process does take time, but when we were not allowed to meet, the process could not start at all. Other alternatives of communication are monitored by the state which if used could let the state know the strategy much before we exercise it,” said Mirwaiz on phone from his residence where he is under house arrest for more than a month.

Syed Ali Geelani is under house arrests many years for now. Yaseen Malik is frequently been arrested. Last year in June, when the resistance leadership was evolving as a joint forum, government invoked 1987 case against Yaseen to send him jail. The case was later dismissed by a court. Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, too has been frequently house arrested by the state mostly at a time when there is a program from his side. He many times had failed attempted to jump over the main entrance of his residence to give police a slip. Shabir Shah, who has also spent more than 28 years in jail is also under, continues house arrests. Now he has been arrested by NIA. Masrat Alam, the man who spearheaded 2010 uprising, has been booked under the 24th Public Safety Act. Since 2010 he has been released only once for 20 days, despite PSAs have quashed repeatedly. Dr Qasim is serving life imprisonment, his wife Asiya Andrabi is too arrested.

Apart from the above top notch leaders, insiders (wishing anonymity) in all the three camps said that most of their lower rung leaders are under police custody since 2016 uprising. Among them are elderly men 76-year-old Haji Mohammad Yousuf, who was rearrested third time and booked under PSA despite being quashed by a court, Ghulam Mohammad Khan Sopori.  Now in the latest arrests by NIA, four are from Hurriyat led by Geelani, which includes Ayaz Akbar, the spokesperson, Mehraj Kalwal, Srinagar district president, Peer Saifullah, Shabir Shah and Altaf Shah, from Hurriyat (M) there is Shahid-ul-Islam, and from other parties there are Nayim khan and Bitte Karatae.

 “Now imagine a situation where all our top-notch leaders are arrested and we have to work on all fronts which include monitoring the Kashmir because, things change here very fast, devise a strategy, invoke lawyers to get our leaders released, help the needy. Since last uprising, most of the times I have been writing press releases myself because people assigned this job are behind the bars,” Mirwaiz said.

“In all the factions of resistance leadership, we have separate human rights cell, legal cell, relief cell and others. All of them are headed by various leaders who are behind bars most of the time. Tell me how will they function without people? I must tell you that our third rank leaders have been arrested too,” Mirwaiz added. “Our leaders in Delhi need lawyers. Though it has been managed there only, we had to make arrangements for them. We had invited lawyers at my office, but they were not allowed to meet. What could we do.”

At present inside the Hurriyat (G) central office, there is no one except those who work in kitchen. Leaders who have been set free don’t visit the office to avoid ‘unnecessary arrests,’ an insider told Ink. The situation is same by and large at the office of Mirwaiz led Hurriyat.    

“Amid this situation there is full-fledged cyber warfare, military ware-fare launched by the Indian state against us. There is also a propaganda against us which prompts people to raise questions on our accountability. We have no problems in responding to them one-by-one, because they have each right to do so but the means and ways through which it can be possible has been killed. Yet we try to manage it and responsible people should try to understand it all,” Mirwaiz added.

What can be the long term strategy that people are demanding from the resistance camp at the moment?  

“This is question all people ask, but does anybody answer,” said another Hurriyat (G) leader wishing anonymity because he is not authorized to speak.  “Now if I ask people about the strategy does not mean that we have not thought about it.”

“Look at the present situation on the ground. There are mujahids (militants) fighting the state in the woods on the ground. They kill, get killed,” the leader said. “So does their martyrdom achieve nothing on the ground in reality? You may say no, but the truth is that it does.”

“Now look at the resistance camp which is contesting the India’s claim on Kashmir politically. We employ democratic means of engaging protests. Last year uprising is a big example. Now if India does not respect democratic means of protests does not mean that we will become inhuman too.”

“Now what are the options available for us? We can’t stop supply lines to India to force her to hold referendum here. We can’t send nuclear missiles. Don’t forget we are not allowed to even move outside India where we could have engaged diaspora, and other countries to intervene. We are even being questioned for applying for passport.  Applying for the passport does not mean that we are Indians. It is a compulsion to use India’s passport. We don’t have authority to use other countries passport,” he added.

“Despite these constraints if US, UK, Russia prioritize resolution of Kashmir, it will take just few months. Now under these situations, a resistance leadership can only show to the world that Kashmir resistance is alive and much more powerful than ever. We try to do that. Despite the fact that ground is with resistance, we will be giving India an open space if we stop giving program in whatever way and whatever form.”