“Jama’at wants to see both Hurriyats united”

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With a change of guard taking place at one of the most prominent religious organisations in Kashmir, the outgoing Amir of Jama’at-i-Islami, Sheikh Mohammad Hassan, tells JUNAID NABI BAZAZ that he has no regret that Geelani could not became JI president

KL: With a new Amir taking over, your tenure is complete. You were elected to the Jama’at’s presidency after being recalled from retirement. What are the chief contributions that you have made?

SMH: My biggest contribution was amalgamation of different religious parties under one umbrella – Majlis-e-Ithehad-e-Milat. It brought Sunni and Shia organisations together. With the help of Allah, we have been successful to a large extent. Also, during my tenure, the cadre of Jama’at was consolidated and, in fact, increased.

KL: Leaders from Jama’at have all along maintained that militancy consumed the party. What have you done to undo that “loss”?

Sheikh Muhammad Hassan

Sheikh Muhammad Hassan

SMH:  Those who were martyred sacrificed their lives for our primary objective, Iqamat-e-Deen (Establishing Islamic System). For such an achievement, Allah at times puts his believers to test. God choose them to be martyrs and even if we have to do so, we will accept it wholeheartedly. But will never compromise on our stand. More importantly, we have no regret over what has happened.

KL: For the last more than 20 years, the tensions within different sects and schools of thought did not exist. All of a sudden Kashmir is hotting up. Why has it happened? How will this new trend impact Jama’at in near future?

SMH:   It occurred because of misconceptions created by vested interests but it will not impact Jama’at in the least. Initially, there was some crisis but with the help of other organisations, we have unified people under one banner and have defeated the sectarian ideology.

KL: What does Sendbal murder suggest for Jama’at?

SMH:  In my opinion, the murder of Shabir was an isolated incident committed by some inconsiderate people but it will not occur again. It is not the subplot of a bigger conspiracy against Jama’at.

KL: Jama’at doesn’t seem to have changed its stand on larger Kashmir question. But is there any shift in the policy to see Kashmir issue resolved?

SMH:  No. Our stand on all the regions of Kashmir whether they are occupied by India or Pakistan is the same; that it is a disputed territory. According to JI, it can either be resolved through a plebiscite or tripartite talks between India, Pakistan and credible leadership of Kashmir.

KL: Geelani has been the most popular Jama’at leader but he is yet to become president of the party. Why do you think it happened?

SMH:  It is not only Geelani but several other leaders who were more popular than him like Qari Saif-u-Din, Ghulam Mohammad Hakim and Maulana Ahrar sahib. They were higher in rank and stature than Geelani sahib. The JI president is chosen by members in a democratic way. Geelani sahib was once nominated as the president by the members of Majlis-e-Shuara and not by Arkan members. But on the day he was appointed, he was arrested. Thus Geelani sahib never acted as the president even for a single day.

KL: Kashmir has two Hurriyats of which Jama’at is part of Hurriyat (G), why?

SMH:  From a long time, we have not attended the meetings of Hurriyat (G). We want to see both Hurriyats united. In the past, we have put our efforts to make it possible and we will continue it.

KL. Why did you allow Syed Ali Geelani and Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai to cast a vote when it is mentioned in Jama’at’s constitution that no one can be a part of Jama’at if they are associated with another organisations?

SMH:  It was the decision of JI under an agreement with Geelani sahib to constitute Tehreek Hurriyat (TH) separately.

KL. What are the differences between Jamaat and Geelani sahib?

SMH:  JI primary objective is Iqamat-e-Deen, which includes all facets of life and Kashmir cause is one of them. Geelani sahib primarily focuses on Kashmir issue and not on other facets. This is the difference.

KL: When Hurriyat was united, its leadership told Jama’at to replace Geelani sahib. But instead of supporting him, Jama’at threw him out of the organisation.

SMH:  JI never expelled Geelani sahib. Instead, he has been our most preferred candidate for Hurriyat in all times.

KL:  Was 2008 and 2010 unrest a leadership failure?

SMH:  We do not consider it as a leadership failure. But we believe that for resolving Kashmir issue, such hurdles would come. The unrest in 2008 and 2010 was an example of that.

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A journalist with seven years of working experience in Kashmir.

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