Row over Geelani’s statement

By K.N. Pandita

Unnecessary row has been created on the statement of hardliner Hurriyat leader, Sayyid Ali Shah Geelani. Sections of media are adepts in provoking controversies.

Activists of all mainstream political parties have been meeting Geelani ever since he shot into prominence. Congress, NC. PDP, SP and others have been visiting him albeit without making fuss about such meetings. If BP representatives met him, it is nothing unusual.

Democracy means carrying the minority along through persuasion and not persecution. Considering that Geelani represents a particular ideological group which, according to the claims of the ruling partners, comprises only a handful of people, then they are an ideological minority and have to be carried along through persuasion. BJP activists did nothing unconventional. They have tried for an opening with the hard line leader. The two persons alleged to have visited him are in the frontline of nationalists struggling to build convergence.

Geelani is outright for secession of Kashmir from India and accession to Pakistan. He is not for azaadi. In ordinary course of things this is sedition. But neither the State nor the Central governments ever took cognizance of his sedition because they never confronted him because of his popularity of course.

Not only that, he has been provided all facilities including special healthcare and is flown to Delhi whenever he has health problem. This means that Geelani serves the purpose of the State and the Centre. Can such a person be called persona non grata?

Representatives of innumerable national and international NGOs have come to him, interviewed him, and brought out write up on him and his ideology. Never has the press or the administration raised its finger. Why is there hullaballoo on two BJP representatives meeting him?

In the same vein, representatives of mainstream political parties and local ruling parties have been regularly meeting with the moderate faction leadership of Hurriyat namely Mirwaiz. Their meetings were never made a subject of hot talk.

If BJP representatives did not meet him, they have missed the bus. They should make good the loss as early as possible. Geelani has a constituency. Democratic dispensation demands that all constituencies should be lobbied about.

If Nehru had proper understanding of Kashmirian psyche and political foresight, he should not have succumbed to Sheikh Abdullah dissuading him to meet Molavi Yusuf Shah during his Kashmir visits in pre-independence days.  Had he not committed the blunder, the history of Kashmir today would have been different than what it is because Molavi Yusuf Shah was more secular than any other leader in Kashmir at that time. The BJP should refuse to follow in the footsteps of Nehru.

Geelani is a staunch Jamaat-e-Islami ideologue. Jamaat is not a banned organization in India. Everybody is aware of the agenda and links of Jamaat-e-Islami. The one thing that makes Geelani outstanding among the myriad of Kashmir leaders is that he speak in plainest possible words what his ideology has taught him and how he sees things.

We want him not to be anti-India. We want him not to denigrate Indian presence in Kashmir. We want to tell him that accession is a historical truth and it decided the fate of Kashmiris because essentially it was what the Kashmiris decided themselves. As such accession cannot be done away with. Moreover we want tot ell him how beneficial democracy is to the Kashmiris particularly when it does not touch religion and leave it alone to the care of the people.

Geelani does not accept this stand and believes that the mujahedeen will wrest Kashmir from Indian army through force of arms. That has not happened and shall not happen till eternity. Isn’t it logic that some sensible political organization should talk to him and tell him where he stands? If the BJP took the initiative, we should welcome it and support it and approach Geelani with the suggestion that he should talk.

So far this is to put the narrative in its simplicity. The real question is not that the Pandits, Geelani’s compatriots, representing BJP met him. The real question is why did he make their visit public when he does not make public visits of representatives from other parties? Media and political commentators should have tackled this question.

The fact of the matter is that Geelani’s anti-India and pro-Pak constituency is drastically shrinking. He is fully conscious of it. The reason for this shrinkage is not that any maneuvering by the state or central actors has yielded some positive results. No, that is nonsense. That fact is that the worsening internal condition of Pakistan, assertion of Pakistani Taliban, recurrent bombing and killing of innocent people in hundreds, escalating sectarian killings and deepening crisis in the government have disillusioned him more than anybody else.

It is human nature that he would try to refurbish his shrinking constituency. Therefore he found an opportunity of re-assuring Kashmiris that he is not at all prepared to talk to Indian political actors even though they are more than willing to talk to him. In the process he has cast the net on moderate Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz also.

This is the reason why Mirwaiz had to use harsh words to disclaim Geelani’s insinuation. As far as Omar Abdullah is concerned, did he ever disclose the names of his party or coalition representative who have been meeting Hurriyatis as well as other separatists and even undertaking visits to Islamabad?

A state is run by statesmanship. Democracy does not segregate any shade of opinion. That the ruling coalition has not been able to establish channel of dialogue with Geelani during its ten years of tenure in the office is a sad commentary on its imbecile home policy. Remember even during the war with Pakistan, Indira Gandhi did not snap the channel of dialogue with Pakistan. Statesmanship lays stress on inclusive approach. BJP has damaged itself all these years by not establishing channels with political activists of all hues in Kashmir. It has to engage them in a fierce debate to prove who has been meting out communal and discriminative treatment to them and how.

BJP has stated in its manifesto that it will take steps to find resolve Kashmir tangle. Kashmir tangle cannot be resolved overnight. Stake holders have to be roped in and a long and arduous process has to begun. The process has to be dimensional and not one track or two track. BJP should have the resilience to do the tight rope walking in Kashmir.

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