Syed Ali Shah Geelani is considered as the key leader in the separatist camp in Jammu and Kashmir who is viewed as one of the most tough to negotiate with, among all the separatist leaders. The ‘hardcore’ separatist leader as many would call him, is however, not averse to talks- albeit- his conditions are accepted. He has recently steped down as Chairman of the Tehreeek e Hurriyat, a constituent party of Hurriyat Conference (G), of which he is the founder. The Kashmir Magazine team last week dropped at his Hyderpora residence where he has remained under house detention for most of the time during last eight years. We spoke at length with the octogenarian leader about the contours of the separatist movement he has been leading for last more than two and a half decades.
Here are the excerpts of the full interview.
Q.1: How do you see present situation, especially after government said that pro freedom leadership is “free to carry out their political and social activities?
Announcement by DG police Mr. SP Vaid that “pro-freedom leaders are free to carry out their political and social activities” is in itself an ample proof of Jammu and Kashmir being a police and army state run by the barrel of gun. Political puppets are nothing but to nod their head in support of their armed masters. Had there been even an iota of a democratic setup or the slightest traces of the so-called elected government, these statements should have come from the political mouth pieces. But as we rightly believe that the decisions regarding Jammu and Kashmir are taken by the men in uniform be it army or police, seen only through the prism of so-called national security.
Now the “freedom” police chief has announced and the chest thumbing by the local stooges have not stood its ground even for a fortnight. All the pro-freedom camp continues to be either under house arrest or in jails. Indian leaders and their local pawns have always made tall claims and soothing press statements, but they have never kept their word. This is real and basic tragedy we are facing. Had they honoured their own words and promises made to us, this paradise on earth would not have turned into a hell, it is today.
Blunt lies, false and unrealistic rhetoric has been the hallmark of Indian political class whether in power or not and their egoistic approach has led to the numberless killing fields in Jammu and Kashmir and has put the whole sub-continent at the brink of Nuclear collusion.
Q.2: Situation in Valley has been volatile following civilian deaths and subsequent protests. Can mere Hartals do in such circumstances?
Present situation in Jammu and Kashmir is not only volatile but alarming as well. Our peaceful protests are crushed and dealt with iron hand of the police and army. They kill us ruthlessly, injure and disable peaceful protesters, blind and arrest innocents. We are not even allowed to mourn the death of our youth or offer condolences to the bereaved families. ‘Puppet-government’ is scared of the public outrage as they have already lost the moral and ethical ground to hold the chair. It is true that mere hartals are not enough. As I repeatedly say that main reason and the giant and monstrous culprits responsible for dance of death and destruction is this pro-Indian political class. Delhi grooms, pampers and nourishes them to suck our blood like leeches. They shamefully and arrogantly thrive on our blood and flesh for decades together just for their personal perks, privileges and packages. We as a nation have to confront these collaborators, local faces of oppressor, anywhere and everywhere. We need to question their authority and claim to rule us. We should remind them the deceitful and lustful role they are playing to safeguard their own interests. We need to convey these traitors that “partners in crime” can, in no way, be our saviors and their hollow slogans of “healing touch”, “battle of ideas” and “autonomy parroting” has, long back, lost its sheen for us.
They should feel the pulse and heat of the betrayal they continue to do with our people for the last 70 years.
Q.3: GOI and the state government are looking to have softened their stand viz a viz holding negotiations. Is Hurriyat ready for talks?
I don’t know where from you feel the softness of the iron-fist of Government of India. Our stand is more than clear as recently during Iqbal Day seminar at Hyderpora, I once again clarified that if GoI accepts the disputed nature of Jammu and Kashmir and show sincerity to resolve this long pending issue, they will always find the pro-freedom camp a step ahead. But as of now there seems no change in the barbaric and military approach of Delhi rulers. We are not shying away from negotiations, but butchering our youth on daily basis, maiming and blinding innocents and incarcerating the entire pro-freedom camp, forcing them to submission in the name of dialogue, is never going to yield anything positive.
Q.4: Army Chief has recently said that nothing can be achieved through force. How do you look at the statement?
We have been saying same for the last 7 decades that force and oppressive measures have never subjugated any nation for ever and if today Indian army chief has realized this hard fact, it should be seen practically on the streets of the state. Otherwise mere media hype of personalities without any concrete action is only to hoodwink the populace. We wish this message should be conveyed to the hyper-nationalist political class of Delhi and they should be made to realize the clear and unambiguous writing on the wall.
We are subjugated to the worst treatment by Indian ruling class, for repeatedly demanding to end this forced occupation and concentrate on peaceful resolution of the issue. Their local henchmen have always played “more loyal than the king” role in torturing and forcing the whole nation into subjugation. But highest Indian military authority has proved, beyond doubt, our narrative right.
Q.5: Focus has shifted from Civilian and militant killings to Kathua rape case. Do you think the Day to day protests in Colleges, Schools despite govt. Claiming to have done enough to ensure justice to the victim are justified?
Kathua rape and murder has exposed the communal mindset of the accused and their supporters. The heinous crime and its gravity has crossed all limits and even words fail to describe this soul-crushing and unfortunate incident. Protests by the youth especially students is only to get justice, which this poor and innocent kid and its family deserve. Past history and similar shameful incidents in length and breadth of the state have all been hushed up. Be it Kunan Poshpora, Asia Neelofar or others, not a single culprit has been brought to book. Despite repeated assurances from the ruling class, victims still struggle for justice. GoI has always used these incidents as war weapons and to satisfy their majority population, rape and molestation have always been seen through the prism of nationalism and every crime against us especially by the “Worshipers of Sita” is justified and culprits instead of punishment get the bravery rewards.
As per recent media reports, Supreme Court of India seems to has surrendered to the demand of the fascist and communal forces and have signaled to refer the case to CBI. Jammu lawyers who openly, in broad-day-light, under media glare, tried to interfere in filling charge sheet against the culprits, have also been given a clean chit. CBI, as in Asia Neelofar case and other similar cases, will surely try to burry, this case as well, under the debris of hyper-nationalism and security narrative. Otherwise the accused have been identified and they have confessed their heinous crime and there seems no need to delay the trail in the garb of further investigations. Sang Parivar’s stalwarts have said on record that filling any criminal case especially rape against armed forces in Jammu and Kashmir can demoralize them and will jeopardize their efforts to hold the Kashmir by force. This is how the rulers and men at the helm of affairs prove, beyond doubt, their sick, biased and communal mindset. Kashmiries have bitter and horrible experience of judicial onslaught and victimization by the highest courts. We have seen the verdicts, sending Kashmiries to gallows, just to satisfy their collective conscience compelling us to be skeptical when our cases are referred and heard in these judicial houses.
Q.6: Working under a joint forum JRL has removed the misconception and differences in the separatist camp. Don’t you see it as an opportunity to gear up for a decisive strategy for holding negotiations with centre?
Every pro-freedom party or individual including JRL have always supported any realistic move. As we are in dire need of peace, we will never shy-away from any meaningful and purposeful dialogue aimed solely for resolving this long pending issue. As already said the only peaceful democratic and credible way to solve this problem is asking the people to decide their future through an impartial plebiscite or a meaningful and focused dialogue between all the three parties to the dispute i.e. India, Pakistan and Kashmiries.
Q.7: You had recently claimed that an IB officer had approached you for talks. Could you please elaborate and do you think that this was an attempt by GOI to engage Hurriyat in negotiations?
An IB officer had come to meet me at my residence, the details of which have already been made public through media and there is nothing more than that.
Q.8: More and more youth are joining militancy. Do you consider it an alarming trend?
Youth especially highly educated and professionals are joining armed struggle. If you analyze and dig deep into this issue majority of these young boys have said that they can’t sustain the humiliation and ill treatment by the men in uniform. Nocturnal raids, third degree torture in custody, daily attendances in police stations and harassment of their families have forced them to wage a war against this barbarism and injustice. Young blood is always energetic and explosive and when they lose patience and hope in the system, they often take an extreme step.
Another Important and basic reason is the continuous denial of the ground realities, turning a deaf ear to the genuine and fundamental demands of the people, choking the voice of young generation and deceitfully labeling the outrage as the outcome of unemployment and economic deprivation has put the youth in a tight rope to react. Some react in streets by protests, others give vent their anger on social media while others take to arms.
Q.9: You have advocating for a peaceful resolution of the issue and even given a five point formula to work upon. Do you think it would be acceptable to GOI and Pakistan?
Our five point formula makes a basic and concrete foundation for a peaceful, democratic and honourable settlement of the issue. If GoI is sincere in resolving this issue they should have no hesitation in accepting it. It needs the caliber and courage of a statesman to take bold and realistic moves. Those, who are slaves of power and slide too low to lure their vote bank, cannot be expected to address complex issues, as these politicians look for next elections, while a statesman thinks and cares for next generation. As for as Pakistan is concerned, they have always stood for peaceful and negotiated settlement of Kashmir dispute. It is only India which through its aggression and military might have always sabotaged any meaningful and result oriented engagement. They engage people only to discredit them and cement their own pawns in the state.
Q.10: You have nominated Mr. Sehraie as TEH Chairman. Could it be construed as your move to make him your successor in Hurriyat (G) also?
You are ill-informed. After I stepped down from the chairmanship of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, it is Shoora (the highest decision making body of TeH), who unanimously selected Sehraie Sahab as their interim chairman till next party elections are held.
All Parties Hurriyat Conference is a collective forum of about two dozen pro-freedom parties and it has its own electoral system, which is being followed as per its constitution. When need arises its constitution will guide them accordingly.
Q.11: Police has now confirmed that ISIS has got some sympathizers in Valley. Don’t you think this as a very dangerous development which has the potential of changing the Indigenous character of the movement?
We have time and again clarified our stand that ours is an indigenous movement based on international commitments and historical background. We demand the promises made to us by Indian rulers and resolutions passed in UN Organizations be respected, honoured and fulfilled by occupation forces. We have no global agenda and our movement is strictly confined to the contours of our freedom from the forced and armed occupation of India. After we get rid of this oppression and slavery, our sole motto will be to peacefully strive for justice and equality for every individual without any discrimination of region and religion, color and creed, gender and ethnicity. World has tried to adopt and advocate various means and ways to stabilize the shattered and fractured society but have miserably failed. We honestly, rightly and firmly believe that Islam is the only way of life which has the potential of solution of every problem mankind is facing. It is complete in every respect and stands guarantee for universal peace, harmony and brotherhood, ailing and crying humanity is craving for. We will always strive and struggle to establish and flourish this system of life.
Courtesy: Kashmir Magazine