Shams Irfan

Funeral of Khalid Wani.

There is something seriously wrong with separatists. The way they have been handling themselves since Mufti Muhammad Sayeed took over the reins of Kashmir, is quite interesting. First they tactically played down the entire election process that they have been vehemently opposing since last 25 years. Then, after the elections, when Mufti joined hands with ultra rightist Hindu nationalist party BJP to rule Kashmir, separatists preferred to watch from the stands. They only reacted when Mufti literally ‘exposed’ them by thanking separatists in providing suitable atmosphere for ‘safe conduct’ of elections. It sort of vindicated many conspiracy theorists who have been crying at top of their voices that a certain section of separatists actually helped Mufti get to the top slot. Their target included a socio-religious organization that once adhered to separatist ideology and contested the legality of elections in Kashmir. But then critics believe that the same cadre based organization was lured into voting by Mufti. They argued Mufti had promised them their participation will ensure that communal forces like BJP will be kept out of Kashmir’s pious soil.

However, as Mufti hugged Modi on stage during his swearing-in ceremony there were many heart-breaks across Kashmir. Critics believe it was ripe time for separatists to clear their position by coming out openly against such a sell-out. But they merely brushed it off by terming the government formation as none of their concern!

“We are against the occupation. Whoever comes to power and forms government in J&K, we have nothing to do with that,” said Hurriyat (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani while delivering presidential address at a seminar titled “UN Resolutions – Basis for Kashmir Resolution”, organized by his faction at his office-cum-residence at Hyderpora on January 5, 2015.

Then the process of governance started with Mufti promising separatists’ space for expressing their dissent but “within the framework of Indian constitution”.

Given the stand that separatists have been maintaining since long, people were sure that Mufti’s offer will find no takers. At least none from the hard-line faction of Hurriyat! But they were proved wrong. There was visible excitement among weary separatists to get back in to centre stage after a lull of almost six-years. They grabbed the offer without even looking at the bargain or reading between the lines that were tailor-made for them by Mufti’s masters in New Delhi.

The next master stroke that Mufti played took everybody by surprise. He got Masarat Alam, the so-called architect of 2010 anti-India campaign, released after serving 5 years in jails across Kashmir. The move surprised even Mufti’s coalition partner and put them in a situation that they had not prepared themselves for, yet.

With Masarat Alam out of jail, Mufti was successful in keeping his promise of providing separatist the space to voice their “dissent” in a tight frame. But Alam’s release did not go unnoticed as Indian media went into literal frenzy branding everyone supportive of the move as ‘anti-national’.

Again, Mufti was having the last laugh as his critics hailed him for getting Kashmir back in media focus viz-a-viz Alam’s release.

As Mufti was gaining fans, he started treading into separatist turf by become the ‘saviour’ of Kashmiris.

But Kashmir is full of surprises. And the ‘magic’ spell of Mufti was broken when a civilian named Khalid Muzaffar Wani was killed in Tral by army. The killing sparked widespread condemnation as the slain happened to be the non-combative civilian brother of Hizb commander Burhan Wani.

Once again people started looking toward their dear leaders hoping to find a voice among separatists against what they saw as cold-blooded murder of a youngster. But then separatists were caught off-guard. They called for a shutdown in Tral and its adjoining areas to protest the civilian killing. It triggered a reaction from people who have been following them (separatists), religiously. Reason? How can leaders make mourning area specific, they wondered! Wasn’t Khalid a Kashmiri first, then a native of Tral?

Sensing public mood, Geelani’s Hurriyat called people to march towards Tral on Friday following the incident.

But then something happened in between; and Khalid’s death and the anger against it got shadowed. Geelani was coming home after spending months in pleasant Delhi atmosphere. The road show that Geelani held on his homecoming snowballed into controversy landing Alam back in jail and Geelani and others under house arrest.

And then , people feel, came the ‘U-turn’. There was absolute denial from Geelani’s faction that any such call for Tral march was ever given. Instead, Geelani and his faction have gone into apologetic and clarification mode by saying that their rally was peaceful and not against the establishment!

There were times when Geelani was known for his hard-line stand. But then age and government change can mellow people!

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Kashmir Life’s editorial policy.


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