Jammu Kashmir Democratic Freedom party chairman, Shabir Ahmad Shah, tells JUNAID NABI BAZAZ that Mirwaiz Umar Farooq is not living up to the expectation of the people of Kashmir.
KL: Tell us something about your controversies with Hurriyat (M) led by MIrwaiz Umar Farooq?
SAS: There are two issues. One was about the statement of Prof Abdul Gani Bhat that UN resolutions have become rotten and we should join the pro-India leadership on common minimum program. Since both these statements are against Hurriyat’s constitution, I asked them how a pro freedom leader could make such assertions in presence of Hurriyat chairman. Instead of taking action against Bhat sahib, a showcase notice was issued to those who asked for action against the violators of Hurriyat’s constitution. This is unreasonable.
Second was against the modus operandi of Hurriyat (M). Since it was not working at par with the people’s expectations, my stand was that this void should be filled. From the day I joined Hurriyat, my stand was the amalgam should get institutionalized at the ground level. It can’t happen by forming committees. There is also a two-tier system in Hurriyat; General and Executive Council. There are members who do not deserve to be in Executive Council but still they are there and vice versa. Our demand was that either there should be only one council or even if there are two, the members should be elected on the basis of merit. But none of them were accepted.
KL: Are these controversies affecting Kashmir issue?
SAS: Yes, to some extent. They have created lacunas in our leadership as we have not been able to unite the people. We are losing them. And for few years, because of controversies, we have not been able to deliver what the people expect from us.
KL: How do you see the stand of Hurriyat by issuing show cause notices against Azam Inqalabi and Nayeem Ahmad Khan when the notice should have been issued to Professor Abdul Gani Bhat?
SAS: It was not the right decision. The notices issued to Nayeem Khan and Azam Inqalabi was unreasonable since they had not done anything wrong. They had sought action against Professor Abdul Gani Bhat as he violated the preamble of Hurriyat.
KL: After that controversy, you separated from Hurriyat (M) and said that you will make separate amalgam. What happened to that idea?
SAS: Hmm. Neither I have said that nor have I any plan to create a separate amalgam. I have always been a strong advocate of unity.
KL: After you were attacked outside Dastegeer Sahib shrine, you said those responsible were followers of a particular pro freedom leader and you will soon expose them. Who were they?
SAS: That all was an organized attack. The agencies wanted to kill me and those who did it are government funded people. I said that they are our own people. By that, I mean they are Kashmiris and not from any particular pro freedom camp. They will be exposed very soon.
KL: Why is it only you and Syed Ali Shah Geelani who are arrested most of the time as compared to other pro-freedom leaders?
SAS: Maybe the government fears us more than other pro-freedom leaders.
KL: When you were released after the long detention, you said “I have come out with thread and needle” suggesting bringing unity among pro-freedom leadership? How far have you been successful?
SAS: Honestly I must tell you that I have not been very successful. From one side, I try to knit it but from other, the enemies cut it with blade. But I am also hopeful that likeminded people have to get united and they will.
KL: Do you feel Mirwaiz’s four point formula is viable for the resolution of the Kashmir cause?
SAS: There is no out of box solution acceptable to Jammu and Kashmir. We believe Kashmir issue can either be resolved through tripartite talks or through plebiscite. We vehemently rejected it that time and my stand will continue be the same.
KL: Do you believe the armed struggle has contributed to Kashmir cause in any way?
SAS: Armed struggle took Kashmir issue to the new horizon and highlighted it at the international arena. It made world aware about the injustice being perpetuated by India on the people of Kashmir which had never happened before. And those who sacrificed their lives are in itself a big contribution to the movement.
KL: If some day, the people of Jammu and Kashmir are given the right of self determination, which country would you like to be with?
SAS: I will prefer Jammu and Kashmir to be a part of Pakistan but only after signing agreements on certain issues which would be acceptable to the all regions of Jammu and Kashmir.
KL: If Pakistan stops its support to Kashmir cause, do you believe it will affect the Kashmir movement?
SAS: At international level, it may. Since it is the movement of our own people, we will continue our struggle for independence on our own and we would not allow it to affect our movement in the least.
KL: What has been the contribution of Democratic Freedom Party (DFP) to those who have suffered in the conflict?
SAS: Individually, we are doing best as per our strength. But at a larger level, we cannot do much unless we get united. That is why I want Hurriyat to get institutionalized so that it could work on all fronts.
KL: During peak militancy years, you were the popular leader with a mass appeal. But that popularity has waned over the last few years. Please comment?
SAS: It is true because the government has kept pro-freedom leadership away from the people. In our absence, the government is spreading rumors against us. And if you take my example, this year alone I have been kept under house arrest for seven months and nineteen days. Under these circumstances, it is obvious that such thing will happen. But such changes are temporary and they will be defeated.
KL: In the present scenario, which party represents the real pro-freedom sentiments of Kashmir?
SAS: I am not having any bias towards any particular party. I believe everyone is representing Kashmir at their best. Each party is fighting the battle with its own methods.
KL: What is your vision of freedom?
SAS: I want to see an independent Kashmir where people would live with prosperity, peace, dignity and honor, like other independent countries.
KL: How would you like to be remembered?
SAS: A person who dedicated his life for the Kashmir cause and fought for it with dignity and determination and never gave it up before the enemy.