By K.N. Pandita
For too long Hurriyat leadership subjected itself to the torture of “willing suspension of disbelief”. Its biggest weakness, and of course debacle, has been the killing of truth. On the debris of falsehood, its leadership built a formidable super structure reckoning that the masses of people can be carried away by emotive slogans and cliché. Emotionalism has been the bane of Kashmirian psyche. It has a history and tradition. We need not go into those areas.
The leader of the moderate faction, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, an honest and well-meaning leader, the scion of an illustrious Kashmiri house with history all around, has been suffering the psychological trauma of fierce clash between reality and illusion about the murder of his father in 1992 at his residence. The family servant who was eye-witness to the perfidious act of the assailants, who had barged into his residence feigning his supporters needing some clarification, was muzzled immediately after perfunctory remarks he made to a television channel on the spot. Mirwaiz had to seal his lips for nearly two decades with which he perhaps began to believe in his own lies. More than two decades later, it was only his colleague and lieutenant, Prof. Abdul Ghani Bhat who dropped the bombshell of truth. He, too, is a sufferer; his brother Muhammad Sultan Bhat had been gunned down by the aazaadi jihadis. Notably by the separatists’ own admissions, militants have assassinated family members of all the four “moderate” separatist leaders. Mirwaiz Umar’s father, Mirwaiz Farooq, was shot dead at his Nageen residence on May 21st, 1990. Five years later, Prof Gani’s brother, Mohammad Sultan Bhat, was gunned down in his village, Botengo. Aga Hassan’s brother and prominent Congress leader, Aga Syed Mehdi, was blown into pieces along with his driver and six PSOs when militants targeted his vehicle in a landmine explosion near Kanihama, on Srinagar-Gulmarg Road on November 25, 2001. Bilal’s father, Abdul Gani Lone, was gunned down on the occasion of Mirwaiz Farooq’s assassination anniversary at Eidgah grounds in Srinagar on May 21, 2002
Who engineered killing of these moderate leaders of Kashmir? At whose behest did their assassins carry out the crime and to what intent and purpose? The Hurriyat never called for an enquiry into these important questions. They would not because the criminals were known to them. The falsehood which they manipulated was to bring the onus to the doorsteps of security forces and the army. And the damage that it caused to the entire aazaadi movement has now forced saner elements among the Hurriyat (M) to wriggle out of the stranglehold of falsehood and breathe some fresh air in an atmosphere of freedom.
That the Hurriyat is split into factions and activists of respective factions have no hesitation to resort to manhandling the opponents or hurling abuses and accusations at them are the consequences of hiding the truth for a long period and misleading the masses in support of the falsehood floated vigorously.
The stage has come when the leadership of Hurriyat (M) feels it must cast aside the mask that shrouded their true face for more than two decades in the past. Their cowardly acquiescence to the sponsored terrorism in Kashmir, overt and covert fraternizing with Pakistani fanatical hardliners, denigrating India on Kashmir issue on international platforms and spreading hate-India propaganda among the people in Kashmir, everything proved counterproductive when some facts about Kashmir militancy were disclosed to the world community. The “Fai-Gate” and the truth about various militant organizations in Pakistan promoting terrorism in Kashmir threw Hurriyat off the rails. People got disenchanted.
A reality, which the well-wishers of the Hurriyat at home and abroad wanted it to take note of, was the damage it was causing to Kashmir by announcing boycott of assembly elections. Hurriyat lost whatever support it expected from the US. The reason for the Hurriyat not to participate in Assembly elections is not its announced stance. The real reason is its uncertainty about its ability to win a seat in a fair election. This fear has been haunting the Hurriyat endlessly. The strange thing is that it never felt confident that even the cherished slogan of aazaadi that could have become their battle cry at the hustings would win them a seat.
The Hurriyat has entered a crucial stage in state politics. Realpolitik demands that some fundamental truths about Kashmir issue have to be accepted. The accession is final and irrevocable. Pursuing hate-India propaganda and pandering to Pakistan are both highly irrational and counter-productive moves. On international plane, no support whatsoever can be garnered by the Hurriyat to push its separatist agenda. This is because the Hurriyat had made ISI its vanguard for aazaadi which now stands discredited and denounced by international community as the fountain-head of international terrorism. The world says that whatever is happening in Kashmir is what al-Qaeda and Taliban want to happen to the Kashmiris.
Hurriyatis needs to return to the fold after long estrangement. It will take some time to re-adjust to the imperatives of changing situation in Kashmir. Face saving is certainly an issue and at least one man of upright conscience among the Hurriyat leadership, namely Prof. Abdul Ghani Bhat, has set the ball rolling. Because what he says is bound to demolish the false image of the Hurriyat, there will be opposition and confrontation. It is inevitable. It could go worse because entrenched interests are going to get a shaking.
Political punditry feels that the moderate faction of Hurriyat will do some good spadework to pave the path for participation in 2014 assembly elections. Breaking the old and forging new alliances cannot be ruled out in a scenario of renewed political activity in the State. The essential areas that should be focused at by emerging groupings in Kashmir are economic development, industrialization, eradication of unemployment and corruption, streamlining education and health services and overall improvement and quality of life in the State. Mirwaiz has already been speaking about these matters but the Hurriyat needs to institutionalize its new stand.