Falling Apart

With separatists running out of ideas to catch peoples’ imagination, the need to unify is felt across the different ideological camps. Everybody talks about unification but nobody is ready to take the first step argues Shah Abbas.  

Mirwaiz-Umer-Syed-Ali-Geelani-M-Yasin-MalikIn last many years, the central theme of almost all separatist functions has been the unification of different ideological camps under one banner. It has become a routine now. But nobody bothers to ask them that whom they intend to address while advising unification. Who actually needs to unify: people or the separatists?

Shabir Shah is considered as the most vocal about unification among separatists. However, he too operates independently.

Even Shabir Shah and Nayeem Ahmad Khan are not taking part in any Hurriyat (M) activities and they are practically out of the amalgam.

The Mirwaiz led faction of Hurriyat last week announced its “ShopianChallo” programme stating that Mirwaiz would lead the march from Jamia masjid, Agha Syed Hassan Al Moosvi from Badgam, Moulana Abbas Ansari from GundPattan, Prof Abdul GaniBhat from BotengooSopore, Mukhtar Ahmad Waza from Islambad, Zaffar Akbar Bhat from Chanapora, Javed Ahmad Mir from Lalchowk, Hakim Abdul Rashid fromLal Bazaar, SaleemGeelani from Ganderbal, and Syed Bashir Andrabi from Pulwama.

Hurriyat (M) however, did not mention the names of Shabir Shah, its executive member and Nayeem Khan, its one time provincial president; though neither has formally left the amalgam nor has the amalgam expelled the duo.

“Practically both Shah and Khan are not a part of the amalgam because they have chosen to operate independently,” a leader in the Hurriyat (M) pleading anonymity told Kashmir Life.

The leader added “surprisingly, both of them talk high of unification among the resistance parties and leaders.”

Shah, during his last press conference while answering a question told media persons that he has not left the Mirwaiz led faction of Hurriyat. But the fact on ground is that he is being neither invited in the Hurriyat meetings nor he operates in the name of Hurriyat.

Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai, a very senior separatist voice and a close aide of octogenarian separatist Syed Ali Geelani, last week while addressing a gathering in connection with the book release of Afzal Guru’s Last Message talked a bit tough about unification among separatists to which many speakers refer to when they speak. He even invited all those who stress upon unity for an in-camera debate on the issue.

“Everybody talks about the unity.We too have lot to talk on the issue. I invite the advocates of unification for a debate that must be strictly in-camera so that it does not create any more controversy,” Sehrai said while delivering his presidential speech during the function. He also said that Kashmiris are divided since the time of Holy Relic theft crises in 1964.

Sehrai’s invitation clearly indicates that Hurriyat Conference led by old ailing Geelani has something ‘special’in its kitty to ‘silent’ those who every now and then advocate unification.

To many commentators, separatists are divided because there are only leaders in their camp. “These leaders have got certificates of leadership from Islamabad, so who is there to follow and whom,” a political science scholar who teaches at college level told Kashmir Life.

He added that to divide Kashmiris it has been a very old aim of the policy makers in New Delhi, this aim of theirs was prioritized from last two decades and the time has now come when they can celebrate their success. However he quickly added “but the role of New Delhi in breaking the separatist camp is very little as compared to Islamabad.”

Sehrai on January 5, this year even openly alleged Pakistan ex-president, Parvez Musharraf of dividing Kashmiri separatists. “He (Musharraf) divided us, but Pakistan is not Musharraf or Benazir or her husband. Pakistani people will always rally behind Kashmir cause,” he said during a seminar in Srinagar.

However, according to Prof Gul Mohammad Wani, “In conflicts, hidden and invisible hands always remain active but the question is why we should get divided.”

Separatist camp is now divided to the extent that even the 2010 uprising and the hanging of Afzal Guru could not reunite it.

The separatists, however, tried more than once to reunite or to create some sort of coordination between them but every time they could go to a particular limit only.

Creation of MuttahidaMajlis-e-Mashawrat (MMM) in 2013 and Coordination Committee (CC) in 2008 too proved futile only because separatist leaders are ideologically divided.

The ideological divide has now reached to a level where every faction, party and leader is looking down at each other. The separate protest programmes against the Shopian killings can be cited as the latest examples.

MMM formed after the hanging of Afzal Guru was the second joint committee between the separatist groups after 2008 Amarnath land row. The then coordination committee headed by the known lawyer, Mian Abdul Qayoom, successfully spearheaded the agitation against the government’s order of shifting 400 kanals of state land to the Amarnath Shrine Board. The government later succumbed and revoked the order.

The insiders say that 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 informed Kashmir Life that there were many people within the camp who do not want to see the narrowing of the existing gap between Mirwaiz and Geelani.

The separatist leaders and parties are in fact facing differences on the ideological front 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 last long and later the coordination between Mirwaiz-led group and Liberation Front chairman, Mohammad Yasin Malik could bear nothing,” an insider said.

Shabir-Shah-and-Nayeem-KhanThe significance of the ‘joint strategy’ between the separatist groups and amalgams has increased manifold after the recent killings in Shopian and the separate protest calls from Hurriyat (G), Hurriyat (M) and JKLFand their apparent failure.

“They (separatist leaders)should have camped in Shopian but instead they issued separate calls which by and large failed. Their attitude to me was insulting for us,” said a senior citizen of Shopian.

And the larger fact on ground is that people now do not pay any heed towards the protest calls of separatist leaders. Even the security authorities do not impose any restrictions on the movement of common people whenever the separatists call for any “Challo” or protest.

JKLF chairman, Mohammad Yasin Malik called for a protest in LalChowk, he even went underground to reach to the venue but the authorities did not restrict people from walking through LalChowk. Later Malik was arrested along with his associates as he appeared in LalChowk.

Syed Ali Geelani’s “UN Challo” call also did not receive any response on the people’s front and even when Hyderpora and Sonwar was sieged people were busy in their routine affairs in other parts of the city.

Same was the case with “Shopian  Challo” call of Mirwaiz. Authorities did not bother to implement any restrictions even in the old city areas. A practice clearly shows the confidence of the security authorities.

However this was not the case in the past.Administration used to come with full security preparations whenever any such call was given. Undeclared curfew and restrictions on the people’s movement had been a definite step on their part because people then were following the calls from separatists very strictly.

“What has happened now? This is the question separatist leaders should sit together and try to find an answer,” a civil society member, pleading anonymity told Kashmir Life. He added that if the separatist leaders again failed to sit together and chalk out a new and joint strategy the day is not far when people even will ignore their shutdown calls as well which has already started happening in some rural and urban areas.

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