An insight into Hurriyat

By K.N. Pandita

Hurriyat is a conglomerate of more than a dozen and half of separatist groups in the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir.

Created through the machination of Pakistani intelligence agency ISI in 1993, Tehreek-i-Hurriyat-i-Kashmir, briefly called Hurriyat meaning (freedom) is its workhorse for carrying forward Pakistan’s agenda of advancing anti-India insurgency in Kashmir. Apart from financial support provided through hawala and other clandestine channels, ISI provides the Hurriyat with day to day agenda of exacerbating unrest among the people. The purpose is to harass the government and paralyze administration. ISI is working on multiple plans but evinces special interest in Hurriyat playing the role of visible street power muscle committed to oppose the government.

Pakistan projects Hurriyat as the voice of “independent” Kashmir on all international platforms. Kashmiri delegates are provided travel and hotel facilities for making anti-India interventions at UN organs, especially at the Human Rights Council in Geneva and Vienna. All expenditures incurred by Hurriyat on publicity of anti-India literature are borne by the sponsoring agency. Pakistan has been sponsoring visits of Hurriyat (M) Chairman to various countries in the world where he is made to speak to briefed press conferences or meet briefed think-tank and resource persons.

Large sums of money come from across the border to keep the so-called freedom movement alive. Thus whatever of “azaadi” movement is to be seen in place is closely linked to the funding strategy of the sponsoring agencies. To cover up illegal funding, ISI has created various fake NGOs in Kashmir and abroad, especially in Pakistan, Gulf countries, USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Japan Belgium etc. who send money to Hurriyat in the name of “relief to conflict victims in Kashmir”. Falsehood about these fake NGOs and the sources of their funding were exposed two years ago when Ghulam Nabi Fai – originally of Budgam district but settled in the US – , the chief of a US-based NGO confessed in an American court of law that he had received millions of rupees from ISI during last two decades in the name of his organization to run propaganda campaign against India in the US and elsewhere.

However, Pakistan was greatly discouraged when the Hurriyat conglomerate split into two or three and Ali Shah Geelani parted ways to form his separate Hurriyat (G) group. Many attempts made by Pakistan to forge unity among the Hurriyat factions did not succeed. Both factions tried to put up a brave face but they could not upset the divisive forces within. Apparently Pakistan maintained parity between the two factions for two reasons. Firstly losing one at the cost of the other in disturbed Kashmir was bad strategy, and secondly, it was convinced of Geelani’s diehard anti-India and pro-Pak stance. Both factions have their respective style of functioning and mass mobilization antics and machination. Both keep the pot boiling through their anti-India tantrum at Friday congregations in Srinagar mosques.

In repudiation of Indian accusations, Pakistan intelligence agency and the Hurriyat factions have been vehemently denying any link between them. This is so even after some cases of hawala (clandestine) transactions were unearthed which lay bare the truth about their link.

After the previous government in New Delhi soft peddled with Hurriyat leaders and Pakistani embassy getting into close rapport, the Hurriyat (M) took it for granted that they could meet Pakistani officials freely and at will. In this way connectivity between the two became brisk. Pakistan profiled Mirwaiz Omar Farooq of Hurriyat (M) in OIC and even secured observer status for him. The narrative was that OIC should support the “freedom movement” of the Muslims of Kashmir.

All this notwithstanding, Kashmiris know very well that Pakistan does not trust them at all. Those who migrated from Kashmir valley to Pakistan will bear testimony to this observation. Pakistan’s lack of trust in Kashmiris was blatantly expressed by the late President of Pakistan General Zia. Kashmiris in PoK, whether in Muzaffarabad or in London have been struggling against Pakistani occupation of their land? There is total trust deficit between them.

The allegation of Hurriyat leaders demanding 1.3 million rupees for MBBS seat and 1 million rupees for Bachelor of Engineering seat for admission against seats reserved by Pakistan in its educational institutions for ‘deserving students of Jammu and Kashmir’ has to be examined from more than one dimension.
It could be a conspiracy to tarnish the image of Hurriyat leaders by way of reprimanding them for their failure to enforce boycott of recent assembly elections in J&K.

It could be a response to the rumours that Hurriyat leaders have been secretly trying to mend fence with Indians keep the deal a top secret. It could be an attempt of sidelining seniors and making space for young Turks in Hurriyat.

However presuming there is a grain of truth in the allegations leveled by Pakistan, the question is why was not this allegation made at any time during ten long years and why soon after the elections?

Whatever is the truth, the story has, at least, given lie to those who assert that there is no link between ISI and the Hurriyat. If the allegation is that the Hurriyat leaders grabbed Pakistan reserved medical and engineering seats for their wards or kith and kin, it establishes the link between the Hurriyatis and ISI for the simple reason that for ten long years ISI deliberately kept the matter under wraps and did not rake a case of corruption on the part of Hurriyat. It continued to project them as the frontline fighters for the rights of so-called oppressed people of Kashmir.

Dismissal of Hurriyat leader Shabir Shah as the mediator between the two Hurriyat factions and one Mir in Pakistani as the representative of Hurriyat is simply bizarre. In this case there is more than what meets the eye. It is yet too early to predict the fall out of ISI’s decision. Some sections within the Hurriyat were disposed to stop issuing boycott calls to assembly elections and justified it by arguing that election was for bringing relief to day to day life of the people; it was not their verdict on the finality of Kashmir dispute. Whatever is the truth, Pakistan’s action of humiliating two Hurriyat leaders publicly?

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