Kashmir is Not a Sadak-Bijli-Paani Issue: Mirwaiz Umar Farooq

Separatist leaders Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik defied house arrest on Saturday, 15 December, after they called for a march to the Army headquarters in Srinagar to protest against alleged civilian killings in Jammu and Kashmir.

The demonstration was planned after the deaths of 7 civilians in clashes with security forces in Kashmir’s Pulwama district earlier this month.

On 7 December, Farooq spoke exclusively to The Quint while he was still under house arrest.
“There is no semblance of democracy in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.”

The separatist leader accused the government of delegitimising the leadership by using National Investigative Agency (NIA) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) against them.
“Kashmir is a political problem, it’s not an administrative problem that could be solved by elections. Nor is it an economic problem that could be solved by announcing incentives and packages. It is not a ‘sadak-bijli-paani’ issue that people are dying for.”

“We are confined to our houses. Every other week, we have restrictions, we have curfews.”
Calling the protest a “peaceful sit-in”, Mirwaiz accused the government of taking away spaces on the ground and confining political activists into their houses.
“We didn’t say we need to take out rallies or marches. It was supposed to be a 10-15 minute peaceful sit-in outside a mosque or a chowk, which they didn’t allow. So I am under house arrest for the last four days since we announced the Human Rights Week. We are not allowed to hold seminars. We were holding a Hurriyat Meet, which was only a one-day delegation and an indoor meeting. I think the government is not giving us any space.”

“Modi’s jumlebaazi of ‘Kashmiriyat, Jamhooriyat, Insaaniyat’ is nothing but a sham.”
Alleging that PM Modi’s policies do not fulfil what he says, the prime minister’s ‘Kashmiriyat, Jamhooriyat, Insaaniyat’ rhetoric is nothing but empty words. He credits the former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for “breaking the ice” and engaging the Hurriyat in a dialogue.
“Atal Bihari Vajpayee came with an economic package when he came to Kashmir for the first time. But eventually he could see that Kashmir is actually a political problem. He said that humanity is bigger than the Constitution. That broke the ice because we were not ready to engage with the Indian Constitution. He promised to talk within the ambit of humanity. That’s how things started to move.”

Farooq called Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik a “disappointment” to the people as they hoped a senior politician like him would understand Kashmir’s issues.

He feels that the BJP is trying to mislead the people of India by saying that everything is being sponsored by Pakistan.

(With inputs from IANS)