‘Graveyards are our metaphysical parliament’

‘Graveyards are our metaphysical parliament’, Veteran resistance leader, Azam Inquilabi in an interview with Tasavur Mushtaqazam 1

KASHMIR LIFE:  You were served a show cause notice by APHC(M) after Botengoo, why?

Azam Inquilabi: I have my own approach to analyse the situation. Basically, the problem lies with the amalgam as it lacks that Shurai-e-Nizam. Quran asks us to evolve a Shura system of consultation. In the light of Quran there should have been a consultative council (Majlis-i-Shura).  Instead, there is a two tier system, executive and general councils. Still the constitution emphasises that the executive has to be accountable and answerable to the general council.

First, the executive as it was in 1993 did not bother to convene meeting of general council after every one or two months. We the members of general council remained silent. I thought in my heart of hearts that if these seven people will lead the movement to its logical conclusion, we would present a flower bouquet to them. Unfortunately, the coordination between the seven members of executive lasted only ten years. In 2003 there was a split. There was particular issue which led to the internal conflict and tug of war inside the Hurriyat.

Members of general council could not help them, with the result Geelani sahib was forced to quit and form parallel Hurriyat conference with the help of general council members. When Parvez Musharraf was held in Afghanistan during the war, we thought Musharraf sahib should get psychological relief on the Kashmir front. I, including my contemporary colleagues like Sheikh Abdul Aziz sahib, Shabir Ahmad Shah, Nayeem Ahmad Khan and Agha Sahab thought it quiet convenient and expedient to join Hurriyat Mirwaiz to help him in herculean task of Kashmir affairs regarding the freedom movement. I used to address high profile press conferences those days.

I am a soldier and with these feeling I have been in field. We are not in competition with anybody. I have put in my precious forty-seven years into this movement. I was first arrested in 1965.

The development which occurred in Botengo on 6th May, 2012 when  Professor Abdul Gani  Bhat addressed the gathering  in presence of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq  and others, and talked against the relevance of UN resolutions in solving the Kashmir issue. He also talked about possibility of forming an alliance with pro-Indian political parties, to which there was strong reaction. All most all the resistance groups reacted vehemently. On May 7, we observed our raising day of Mahaz Azaadi in Ahdoos Hotel, where many leaders were present. They spoke against this tragic episode. Then it was another seminar on 20th May at Hurriyat headquarters.

Nayeem Ahmad Khan was very vocal, candid and blunt and said that whatever happened was wrong. The situation there turned hostile and later Shabir Shah addressed press conference  where he said that either Professor Bhat should be expelled or he should apologise to the people. Neither he (Prof Bhat) was expelled nor did he apologise, instead he attended many conferences where Mirwaiz sahib was also present. This continued and we thought good sense is not prevailing on them. On May 9, I wrote letter to Mirwaiz sahib which was not taken notice of.  Now what I stress over in my statements is to streamline the system and establish consultative council is not well taken by them. When for few years we were with Geelani sahib, there we also put in place the shurai-e- Nizam and I played an important role in that. We want to have same system in Hurriyat (M) but here the concept of seven executive members is still intact and they by pass the general council. When such is the situation, revolt is obvious. Pen and politics came in to action and there was revolt against this intellectual stagnation.

I have regard for them so that I don’t want to use harsh words, otherwise this is sort of megalomania. They have feeling of being supreme but they forget supremacy lies only with Allah. Instead of punishing or sidelining one person, they sent show cause notice to me, Shabir sahib and Nayeem sahib. On the day I received the notice through Maulana Syed ur Rahman Shams, I had given my elaborate statement where I decided to distance myself from Hurriyat. I deemed it as an insult to be issued show cause notice. The person inside me who travelled across mountains with bombs laden around his body was shaken.

No doubt I never killed anybody but I was with a resolve in the field. Mere andhar ka mujhahid jag utha. They have made this resistance politics as business and we will set it right. Come what may. I have not totally abandoned Hurriyat but I have distanced myself from it to keep myself free for political activities and for assertion because I am supposed  to be very vocal now while  criticising  this forum  and identifying the mistakes they have committed. We don’t want to see Hurriyat in this form. We had dream of making it as the galaxy of resistance leaders and then approach Geelani sahib for reunification. But leaders never allowed implementing this as they bank only on the publicity of Pakistan which in fact is not enough.

KL: It is believed that leaders have always failed people of Kashmir. It is happening again?

AI: Very true. See, once egotism starts asserting for the megalomania of the leader naturally a crisis develops. This is the problem. If we have a look on the history, most of the wars were fought because of ego. One King dares another by saying; here I am more powerful than you. This is the bedrock trait in politics. Ego war results in confrontation, polarisation and with the result people feel disillusioned and disenchanted.

KL: Separatist camp is divided into hard-liners and moderates. What is the difference?

AI: I don’t accept this classification. This is terminology provided by imperialistic forces and I am not buying it. Geelani sahib is emphasizing right to self-determination in as much as Mirwaiz sahib is emphasizing it. Both talk about the same thing and taking it forward in their own style.  There is no difference therefore. In approach there can be little bit modification, that is there. After all Geelani sahib is an old man and may have fiery approach but to say he is hardliner and Mirwaiz sahib is moderate is not good. We can put it in a way that Geelani sahib is playing role on the Kashmir front at various levels,  while Mirwaiz sahab has high activity at diplomatic front as he attends conferences outside Kashmir.

KL: Did you vindicate the stand taken a decade ago by Syed Ali Geelani he parted ways?

AI: When Geelani sahib formed parallel Hurriyat conference we were not happy, but that was under compulsion. Situation was such that he had no option but to launch parallel Hurriyat conference.  Then unfortunately some psychological tussle started between two factions of Hurriyat, we intervened and diffused the crisis. Now we were slowly heading towards the reunification of Hurriyat factions, but in the backdrop of present episode, we have to take a different course of action for the time being just to rectify the wrong and set the things right.

KL: Do you want to say Geelani sahib did right by parting ways?

AI: He had no option but to stand in resistance politics as a strong entity.  When his voice was sidelined, it was imperative for him to assert.

KL: You claimed that less important members backed Syed Ali Geelani. Do you want to say lack of space resulted in the division?

AI: Yes. Because members of general council were considered less important. They were never allowed to participate in the discussion of executive and their right to dissent was not recognized.

KL: When and how did you get the name ‘Inquilabi’?

AI: Basically when I introspected my nature forty years back, I found myself weak physically, but the work I used to do was very powerful. I had a resolve that my job is herculean. I used to write well and I thought to have a different name so that people understand who is writing this, so I chose Inquilabi. My original name is Muhammad Altaf Khan. My father was Abdul Rashid Khan. He was forest range officer.

KL: Your journey has been a long one. Could you tell us the story from the day you took up a gun to the day you laid it on table?

AI: I always had militant mindset and crossed the border first in 1969. I went there four times with the objective to sensitise people about the struggle. Taking Guns was a way to tell India that it cannot always strangulate Kashmir by its military might. That message got conveyed fully. Otherwise it is common knowledge that few rifles cannot dislodge the huge standing army of India.  We have around six lakh martyrs and we will not forget them. Graveyards are our metaphysical parliament. We are drawing inspiration from them. My militant thought and resolve was more important than my gun.

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