by O. N. Dhar
A Blaze of publicity has made the All Party Hurriyat Conference's announcement of the launch of what it calls "Kashmir Awareness Bureau" in New Delhi in November. While Hurriyat spokesmen have made no effort to hide the real purpose of the move to open an office in Delhi - "to counter the disinformation campaign" - the Kashmir expert of one leading daily said the organisation was signalling its intention to work for "a peaceful solution" of the tangle posed by "the valley's alienation from India!"
Such wishful thinking, flowing from a confused understanding of the role of the Hurriyat and the men at its helm, is not of recent origin but has characterised the assessments not only by a section of the media but, more surprisingly, even of some political circles in the Capital.
What is the role of the Hurriyat? The first and foremost fact is that this organisation is not at all a product of the Kashmiris' aspirations or of their struggle at different stages for keeping their identity intact. Unlike the National Conference, which symbolised the Kashmiri struggle against autocracy and for democracy and self-rule, or even the Muslim Conference of yore led by Maulvi Yusuf Shah (assassinated Maulvi Farooq's father and grandfather of the Hurriyat Chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq), the Hurriyat was non-existent until the Inter Services Intelligence is Islamabad ushered it in on the Kashmiri scene about three years back.
The organisation to this day is without a constitution and has a whole host of leaders of varying hues and beliefs like the Jamaat-i-Islami Chief, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Mr. Abdul Ghani Lone, a Minister first in Mr. G.M. Sadiq's Government and later in Syed Mir Qasim's regime, and Maulvi Abbas Ansari, the maverick Shia leader, besides the chiefs of insurgent outfits.
The publicly-stated objective of the party of uniting different outfits has eluded these leaders all through their new dispensation because the ISI's gameplan is not to unite the outfits but to keep them at loggerheads so as to ensure that they do not eschew the cult of the gun and mayhem. These leaders have been carrying on disinformation against India and misleading the representatives of the world media covering Kashmir and the foreign envoys who frequently descend on Srinagar.
Who will foot the bill for the proposed "Awareness Bureau" in New Delhi should not be difficult to guess though many well-meaning circles may continue to cherish the belief that the launch of this bureau signals the possible onset of a thaw in the Hurriyat's attitude towards India. The Hurriyat Chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, will be in Delhi for the inauguration of the Bureau, on his return from the U.N. Headquarters, where he spent over a month lending valuable and to Pakistan at the annual ministerial-level meeting of the 52- member Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC), followed by a visit to Columbia to canvas support at the NAM meeting there. He did not have a word to say about Pakistani troops occupying large parts of the State or about Pakistani weapons and mercenaries creating mayhem.
India's tragedy in Kashmir has been multi- dimensional right from the beginning. When the State was subjected to the first Pakistani aggregation on October 22, 1947, and the undisputed representative Kashmiri people's organisation, the J&K National Conference, as well as the legal ruler, Maharaja Hari Singh, both begged for India's support to save the collapsing State defence, New Delhi was accused of conspiring with the ruler to gain control over the invaded State. The United Nations, which was approached with the complaint against Pakistani aggression, turned the tables on India by equating the complainant with the aggressor.
The worst tragedy for India in relation to Jammu and Kashmir has been the attitude of a sizeable segment of the political opinion in the valley towards all that this country stands for and has valiantly tried to espouse in the State despite all odds. Lapses, mistakes and misdemeanours have been there undoubtedly but though attributed to New Delhi these have flowed largely from local political chicanery, jealousies and power struggles. Wherever, and whenever, things went wrong New Delhi became the target of criticism as if it was running the show in Srinagar directly which it was not.
Quite a few media commentators, within the country and outside it, have charged that New Delhi all along chose to rely on "quislings" in the valley in preference to the people. The fact is that India has never had "quislings" in Kashmir: The country and its rulers never mastered the art of cultivating and foisting this breed.
A commentator recently, through a syndicated column, mentioned Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed (Prime Minister of J&K from August, 1953, to December, 1961) and G.M. Sadiq (Prime Minister, and subsequently Chief Minister through an act of self-abnegation to further the process of integration) as Indian "quislings", little knowing how fiercely independent and Kashmiri they were despite the impression at large about them being propelled by New Delhi. Bakshi no doubt allowed a feeling to grow in Delhi's political and official circles that he was India's man in Kashmir but that was only to have his way to get things done! Hc never gave up his "Kashmiriat". Sadiq was even more fiercely independent, carrying always (as he would often remark to his friends) his resignation letter in the pocket. He was so acutely conscious of his true 'son-of-the-soil' role that during the 1965 Pakistani infiltration when it was suggested to him at one stage from the highest quarters in New Delhi that he must shift from his privately-hired and risk-prone Bucchwara residence at the foot of the Shankaracharya hillock in Srinagar to a safer place, he not only rejected the proposition contemptuously but contended that if New Delhi was incapable of defending Kashmir it had better abandon it!
The Hurriyat Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq's illustrious father, Maulvi Mohammad Farooq, assassinated in his own house at Nagin on the outskirts of Srinagar by ISI hirelings in 1991, was once an inveterate foe of India because he believed that New Delhi was propping up the National Conference and its leaders in total disregard of his own importance as a Muslim leader. He thought that Sheikh Abdullah and the Conference had lost the people' s support but retained their position of primacy in Kashmiri's politics only because of New Delhi's support. Though commanding a following only in a few downtown parts of Srinagar and some pockets in Anantnag, Baramulla and Shopian, Farooq at one stage actually visualised himself as the real representative of Kashmiri Muslims. In fact, in 1986-87 his friends were hard at work to help him gain New Delhi's ear and friendship. The Awami Action Committee chief's assassination by ISI agents five years later was well-planned as Islamabad's Kashmir experts distrusted all outstanding Kashmiris and decided to liquidate them one by one by one so as to leave no scope for India to have alternatives in the valley once the National Conference and the Congress were decimated through murder and terror.
The Hurriyat Conference and its leadership are products not of any Kashmiri movement but of the ISI exigency planning: the role assigned to Hurriyat being only one of playing the game as charted in Rawalpindi's satellite township which houses the ISI headquarters. For any one in New Delhi or Srinngar to think that this vassal organisation can play a part in the process of normalisation of the valley and lend credibility to the contemplated poll for the J&K Assembly by condescending to join the fray is thus an exercise in futility. The Hurriyat and its leaders can in no circumstance play a role independent of the ISI.
Mr. Abdul Ghani Lone of the People's Conference is perhaps the only leader of the Hurriyat who could play a meaningful, constructive role but he is not prepared to take the plunge. Of the younger leaders of the Hurriyat conglomerate, Mr. Shabir Shah, Mr. Azam Inquilabi and Mr. Yasin Malik constitute the emancipated segment but their voice is much too feeble to be heard ove the boom of the grenades and guns of the mercenary outfits like the Hizbul-Mujahideen and the Harkat- ul-Ansar.
It is no accident that the Hurriyat has failed to control and coordinate the functioning of the numerous outfits at work in the valley. The failure is ordained by the ISI because it trusts no single group of outfit comprising Kashmiris only. The Hurriyat's creation was a ploy to keep the overground Kashmiri leaders engaged in a dubious role in a patently dubious manner and this role will persist as long as militant guns continue to shadow their existence.
(Courtesy: HINDU New Delhi)
Source: Koshur Samachar
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