Meet the trouble makers – the Hurriyat
They are ideological, political, Islamic, anti-India, pro Pakistan, want a caliphate and have links with terrorists. They are the Hurriyat. This is the complex entity successive Indian governments had to deal with when they engage with the Hurriyat. The current government tags them as third party and does not consider them to have any role to play in any discussions with respect to the Jammu and Kashmir issue.
The Hurriyat started off as a political platform for the separatist movement in J&K. It was a bunch of movements, social, political and religious, brought under one umbrella in 1993 by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, the head priest of Kashmir. The Hurriyat split many times and now has three factions, one headed by the Mirwaiz, the other by Syed Ali Shah Geelani and the third one by Shabbir Shah.
There are many ideological differences within the group and disagreements often come out in the open. The Hurriyat basically opposes Indian rule in Kashmir and broadly wants to establish an Islamic state in the whole of J&K. It is an exclusivist group.
There are many aspects to their demands that are disruptive and disturbing. They speak for the Muslim part of J&K and ignore the rest. They are ok with the elimination of Pandits from the Valley but speak about civil rights. They try to play both sides, they call for shut down of the valley when a terrorist is killed or recently when a journalist was assassinated by the same terrorists. They do not have the courage to condemn stone pelting on a school bus that happened recently. They incite Kashmiri youth to violence while their own kith and kin live good lives outside or within the country. They are opportunists who have been given a long rope by the successive Congress govts in the past.
There are many players in the separatist movement, some of them are –
Syed Ali Shah Geelani takes the toughest stand. His stance is that no talks with India unless it agrees that Kashmir is a disputed territory. He is a fan of Pakistan and openly supports integration of J&K with Pakistan. He was an MLA in the past. He mourns the death of terrorists and has no regrets when policemen are killed by terrorists. His family is currently under investigation for terror funds. He has created a halo around himself as a great leader, Congressmen like Mani Shankar Iyer and others of the Aman ki Asha variety keep vesting him and giving him publicity. He is accused of being a Pakistani Puppet and an ISI agent and has given enough cause to substantiate them.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq is the head priest of Jama Masjid, Srinagar. He is said to be a moderate and promotes negotiations for peaceful settlement of the Kashmir issue. However, he never called for rightful resettlement of the Pandits and is not seen condemning Pakistan and its terror.
Yasin Malik is a former militant turned activist. He stands for independence from both India and Pakistan. He has never been heard condemning terrorists or a good word for the displaced Pandits. He and Geelani are the hawks. He runs his own outfit (JKLF) currently.
Sajjad Lone heads the People’s conference (his faction, his brother Bilal heads the original faction but he is with the Hurriyat). His father Abdul Gani Lone, a moderate leader, was killed at a rally in Srinagar by Pakistan-backed terrorists (it is said that even some in Hurriyat wanted him eliminated). Sajjad is married to the daughter of JKLF chief Amanullah Khan who is based in Pakistan. A separatist turned politician. Fights elections and is an MLA. His sister is a lawyer in the Supreme court of India – Shabnam Lone. Sajjad has in the past produced a vision document on how lasting peace can be obtained in Kashmir with various ideas and options. His hands are clean from the terror perspective. But he lost credibility due to change in stance on occasions.
Shabbir Shah is the head of JKDFP party. He stands for self-determination. He has recently been under investigation on terror funding charges (accused of distributing INR 70 lakh given by ISI to stone pelters). He was jailed multiple times over the years.
Many Hurriyat leaders and their supporters are currently under investigation for terror funding. The government spends crores providing security to these chaps. Most of the Hurriyat leaders are unsure about their safety if the government withdraws security hence they are happy living off the people’s money.
The Hurriyat are the classic rabble rousers as they keep the pot boiling on various issues just to keep themselves relevant. They shy away from elections and call for a boycott whenever elections are held. Some of these leaders look to Pakistan for support and are clearly disappointed that Pakistan is losing its credibility as a nation state in the league of nations and the changing global scenario. They are facing their toughest challenge with the present regime under the Modi government tightening the noose around their necks and unwilling to give them recognition as a political or civil action group.
- By Sri Rama Murthy Prabhala