Kns/Kashmir Magazine/Kashmir Today
Syed Ali Shah Geelani, a relentless voice in Kashmir, the eldest and the most experienced politician in the state commands unmatched and unparallel popular support in Kashmir. He spearheaded 2008 and 2010 public uprisings in Kashmir and has been under continuous house detention for almost last 6 years. Now Geelani is spearheading the current phase of public uprising in Kashmir. Withstanding all pulls and pressures from different public quarters Geelani’s protest calendars are getting overwhelming public response for the last 6 months. Though an official delegation of parliamentarians knocked his doors this summer but he shut the doors on them with the contention that the delegation had not come to knock his door with an official mandate and a clearly defined agenda for political engagement on Kashmir issue. Presently heading the separatist alliance spearheading the current phase of public uprising Geelani commands the support and cooperation of even the tallest separatist leaders including the likes of Mirwaiz Molvi Umar Farooq, Muhammad Yasin Malik and Shabir Ahmad Shah.
Q: Patience level of the people has come to a full circle and growing tendency of the people to resume normal activities are visible on the streets and markets in Srinagar and other parts of Kashmir Valley. Keeping in view the present response of the people to protest calendars would there be any change in the strategy of the resistance leadership in continuing the current phase of resistance struggle?
Syed Ali Geelani: Yes, changes do take place. There were changes earlier and there will be changes in coming days as well.
Q: Civil Society groups are meeting people of cross section of society including resistance leaders, Journalists and Civil Society members. General belief about the visits of these Civil Society groups is that Government of India has started engagement under track II diplomacy in Kashmir. Resistance leaders excepting Yasin Malik have met these Civil Society groups. Why Yasin Malik refused to meet these groups. Is this kind of track II engagement acceptable to resistance leadership and what about the discussions these Civil Society groups have held with people of cross section of society so far?
Geelani: Why Yasin Sahab refused to meet, you can ask this question to Yaseen Sahab only and he is the best person to answer it. What we have talked to civil society has come already in media and what discussions they had with others only they can answer it.
Q: If Government of India declares Kashmir a dispute and extends offer of unconditional dialogue to resistance leadership would you accept such an offer of a dialogue without the involvement of Pakistan in dialogue process?
Geelani: Let government of India accept and declare it first then we will respond accordingly.
Q: In recent days some political workers have been killed. Do you thing that the current struggle is slowly and staidly shifting to eruption of yet another phase of high intensity armed struggle?
Geelani: We have always condemned innocent killings on political basis. Whether new phase of armed struggle erupts, only time will tell.
Q: Indiscipline shown by the youth to the extent of burning down private vehicles and school buildings has worried people. Though you made fervent appeals to youth not to in deluge in activities of arson resulting in huge loss to the public property but youth did not show the response which they should have shown to your appeals what is your response?
Geelani: Who where indulged in burning of the vehicles and schools it is to be ascertained first and it is the job of authorities to get to them. We have always condemned such actions and will continue doing so in future as well.
Q: Some Central ministers overseeing the current situation in Kashmir have already said that the current struggle will die down on its own as was experienced in the years 2008 and 2010. Obviously Home Minister thinks fatigue will force people to give in and normalcy will be restored. Do you think that uprisings erupt and consequently boil down on their own?
Geelani: Movements are not judged on the outcome of one phase. Freedom of nations is a long path to traverse. Different phases have different intensities. But the flame of freedom is live and will remain so.
Q: Do you see any difference in the handling of street protests between the present government headed by Mehbooba Mufti and the previous Omar Abdullah led NC-Congress coalition government?
Geelani: No, traitors and collaborators are same by conviction. They all have mortgaged their soul and mind and are only interested in power for which they can go to any extent, to get it even by trading the blood, flesh and honor of their own people.
Q: According to RBI guidelines the loans are to be recovered if borrowers fail to pay the monthly interest for three months. Four months have passed and banks have started acting against the defaulters. The business community hit by the unrest had though a meeting with JK bank chairman who assured them to restructure loan policy. However other banks have refused to offer any concession to the business community hit by unrest. What would be your response to the possible crackdown of the banks on the defaulters majority of home are running different kinds of business outlets in Valley?
Geelani: Banks, as we have already said, are on the mutual trust bond and any defaulter due to the circumstances beyond its control, should not be held responsible. If still banks force its clients to comply, it will be treated yet another mischievous act, at the behest of the aggressor to enforce the people to subjugation.