A Distant Dream


While the talk of reunification of rival factions of Hurriyat is gaining ground, there are many people within who oppose the move to serve their ‘vested interests’. Even if the factions unite, the leaders will have to consider ground realities before issuing another protest calendar, Shah Abbas reports.

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Despite the statements of the heads of rival factions of Hurriyat Conferences, a reunification or any sort of common minimum program (CMP) between the separatist amalgams seems a distant dream in recent future. Sources in the separatist camp told Kashmir Life that there were many people within the camp who do not want to see the tapering of the existing gap between Mirwaiz and Geelani.

“There are many people including three frontline leaders within the separatist camp who continuously work against any unification or coordination between the two factions of Hurriayts,” a senior separatist leader said. On asking about the names of these leaders, he said “Such elements are present in both the factions of Hurriyat”.

The lack of communication is another hindrance in lessening the differences between the separatist leaders. “They are issuing mere statements about the joint strategy but neither Geelani nor Mirwaiz has activated anybody to work on the idea and bridge the gap,” he said.

“Presently when a joint strategy is need of the hour, Geelani Sahab is in Delhi under restrictions. Mirwaiz Sahab has been put under house arrest and Malik Sahab is in Pakistan. So there is a communication gap,” Shahid-ul-Islam, a close aide of Mirwaiz said, adding that no one is practically working between the three for the purpose.

The news about the coordination between the two factions made rounds post the hanging of Afzal when Mirwaiz took the lead saying he would consult Syed Ali Geelani to forge a “joint strategy”. “A joint strategy will be chalked to counter New Delhi’s offensive against the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” Mirwaiz said in Delhi. Geelani responded positively, “On reaching Srinagar, to find the ways of joint strategy will be among my top priorities.”

Geelani and Mirwaiz were put under house arrest in New Delhi, just after the secret hanging of Afzal Guru took place in Tihar jail. Mirwaiz was freed on February 19 and allowed to reach Srinagar but Geelani is still under house arrest and is not allowed to move out of his Malviya Nagar flat while Mirwaiz was prevented from addressing a press conference.

The reunification of Hurriyat factions has been a strong demand from almost all the concerned quarters. The issue was emotionalized last week when Kashmir High Court Bar Association revealed that Afzal Guru was very disturbed when the Hurriyat suffered a vertical split in wake of 2002 assembly polls.

The separatist leaders and parties are in fact facing differences on the basis of ideologies and strategy which are very difficult to overcome. “It is due to these differences that the agreement made between Geelani and Mirwaiz-led factions on July 19, 2008 could not lost long and later the coordination between Mirwaiz-led group and Mohammad Yasin Malik could bear nothing,” an insider said.

But many “vested interests” seeking unification of the two factions see a possibility of CMP. “Who can ignore the importance of a joint strategy of the pro-freedom groups, but more important is that it should not be an adhoc response to an adhoc situation only, but based on principals,” Dr Sheikh Showkat, who teaches Law at University of Kashmir said.

There are differences at the leadership level and then there are problems within the factions on the issue. Some moderate Hurriyat leaders had a street quarrel not long ago in Rajbagh. Even now the differences within Hurriyat (M) are so deep that many executive leaders of Hurriyat (M) are not on talking terms with each other.

“Mirwaiz had convened a meeting on February 21, which could not be held because Mirwaiz was arrested at the Srinagar airport. Hurriyat had conveyed to every constituent member to participate in the meeting except Democratic Freedom Party’s Shabir Ahmad Shah and National Front of Nayeem Ahmad Khan,” a senior office bearer in Hurriyat (M) headquarter said. Shah and Khan are presently undergoing detention in Srinagar Central Jail. Khan was arrested on February 8, while as Shah was taken into custody later in the night before Afzal Guru was hanged.

The significance of the “joint strategy” between the separatist groups and amalgams has increased manifold after the recent strike calls from Hurriyat (G) and JKLF which caused a lot of confusion among the people. Hurriyat (G) had called for a shutdown on Friday after 12 am and JKLF had asked people to observe a complete shutdown throughout the day. “We have been taken for granted by our leaders. They never think about the losses we suffer. Our leaders even insult our self respect,” said the owner of a business establishment at Residency Road.

While the rival factions are fighting over which strike call to follow and which to ignore, they seem to be far from ground realities. “If this is the joint strategy they are talking about to have joint strikes as collective punishment, then it is better they stay parallel to each other,” commented another businessman.


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