‘Unconditional dialogue acceptable’
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq the The chairman Awaami Action Committee and head of the Hurriyat Conference (M) is the top resistance leader in Jammu and Kashmir. Mirwaiz has the distinction of being the 14th Mirwaiz in 1990. Before joining Kashmir politics Mirwaiz Farooq was an alumnus of Burn Hall School Srinagar. Before joining politics he had interests in computers and wanted to become a software engineer. He holds a Ph.D degree in Islamic studies. He spoke on a wide range of issues concerning the current unrest and dialogue over Kashmir. Here are the excerpts of the interview.
Q: If central government extends offer of dialogue, what would be the broad outline of your agenda for talks with the central government?
MUF: – The engagement has to be sustained, unconditional and resolution oriented and should include Pakistan as Pakistan is a party to the dispute.
Q: You did not talk to official delegation but talked to unofficial delegation. Why so? What are the reasons?
MUF: – Before the all parties delegation came the PM of India Mr Narinder Modi decided to speak on the issue and made two important points, one J&K is an integral part of India and second talks can only be held within the ambit of the constitution. This closed the option of talking to the delegation as conditions had Already been set, so there wasn’t any room for them or us to maneuver. The delegation led by Mr sinha said they had come in individual capacity and as a good will gesture to share the pain of Kashmiri people and requested to meet us as they were very keen on understanding our perspective of the situation.
Q: JKLF Chairman Yaseen Malik refused to talk to unofficial delegation. Doesn’t it show difference of opinion over the political engagement with the ranks of resistance leadership?
MUF:- Not at all. He was simply voicing his concern, and we all share it, that delegations from India have come and gone many a times but they are not followed by any forward movement. Resistance leadership is completely united in word and deed.
Q: Pakistan declared Burhan wani a militant commander new hero of Kashmir struggle. Hasn’t this neutralised the role of political leadership in Kashmir?
MUF: – Kashmir is a political dispute and its resolution has to be through political means, which is either through a referendum or through dialogue. Burhan represented this political aspiration of the fourth generation of Kashmir’s who are continuously struggling and sacrificing since 1931 through various means, to towards the goal of justice and freedom of choice.
Q: If India continues to keep communication channels blocked with Pakistan would the resistance leadership even then agree to talk to central government without involvement of Pakistan?
MUF: – Involvement of Pakistan is imperative simply for the reason that no engagement will bear fruit until all the concerned parties to the dispute are involved in the process of finding a solution. Bilateral engagements in the past either between India and Pakistan such as Tashkent, Simla Lahore or Agra or between Delhi and Srinagar such as Indra Abdullah accord have not met with any success. For that matter even trilateral engagement between us Vajpayee and Musharraf Sb failed as it was not sustained once Vajpayee lost the elections .So it is important to have a sustained and Unconditional dialogue among the three parties.
Q: What are your views about the previous unrests witnessed in 2008 and 2010 and the current unrest?
MUF: – The magnitude of the current unrest is far too wide then the previous ones. It is not issue based but singly focused on getting Azadi. The amount of support among the masses and unity of purpose this time is very wide and deep.
Q: Hurriyat Conference headed by you was considered a moderate political group but now you are part of the broader hardline group under the leadership of Syed Ali Shah?
MUF:- Resolution of Kashmir dispute as per the wishes and aspirations of the people of J&K either through implementation of UN resolutions or through meaningful dialogue between India Pakistan and people of Kashmir was and is the position on of the Hurriyat conference led by me regarding the Kashmir dispute. This is what Mr Geelani also advocates. There is nothing hardline or moderate about it. Even if when we entered into an unconditional dialogue with both India and Pakistan this was our stated position even then and it is within the ambit of this position that we talked. As per the agreements that we were working on a referendum was to be held in Jammu and Kashmir 15 years after the implementation of the suggestions offered.
Q: Why so? Won’t it change public perception about your moderate ideology in rest of India?
MUF:- Me and my parties approach to the Kashmir dispute has and will always be based on principles of justice and a deep desire for peaceful coexistence among all the People of the subcontinent. I always want to see Kashmir as a bridge of friendship between the two great neighboring nations who share a common civilization and whose future is also closely linked, a future full of promise and prosperity for all segments of society, if only peace is given a real chance. I see this happen once justice is given to the people of Kashmir who want to exercise their right to choose their political future, a right that all other people of the subcontinent got in 1947 when the British left.
Q: Patience level of the people has come to its full circle and now people have started moving out in violation of protest calendars? What would be your next plan of action? Any possibility in relaxation of protest calendars?
MUF: – People have shown tremendous resilience and steadfastness in the face of such oppression and need to be congratulated for that. There are very few examples of such determination in the face of such a mighty adversary in modern times. People have already won a huge moral victory and made their intentions clear to India and the world. Once the leadership is set free and gets a chance to meet and deliberate we will be taking all factors into account with regard to how the the current situation is developing and the concerns of people. Further course of action will follow.
Q: You might have been knowing all about Kashmir unrest through news papers and news channels. Why Kashmir is on boil?
MUF: – Government of India does not want to acknowledge the situation on ground in Kashmir. Three successive governments including the present one headed by Narendra Modi have not learnt any lesson from the experiences of unrest like situations of the years 2008 and 2010. Not to talk of any kind of protest or dissent even Friday congregation prayers are not allowed by this dispensation It is hurting and humiliating that for the last 16 weeks no prayer are allowed at Jamia Masjid Srinagar. The rows over Sainik Colonies, Pandit Colonies, Controversial Industrial Policy Beef ban , settlements of west Pakistan refugees and such anti Kashmir policies being pursued by the BJP PDP Government generated lot of anger among the people in Kashmir and the anger finally Spilled onto the streets with the killing of Burhan Wani . While PDP fought elections against BJP but post election went ahead and allied with them against wishes of the people of Kashmir. People were shocked and strong resentment was natural to the level of zero tolerance against this alliance.
Q: Are you pointing a finger at Mehbooba Mufti?
MUF: – Its not about pointing fingers it’s about holding yourself accountable and taking responsibility for your people whom u claim to represent. Mehbooba Mufti and her colleagues instead of standing up for the people collaborated with their masters and let loose a reign of terror on people. With around 100 persons killed; over 15,000 injured; 780 people hit with the pellets in the eyes with many losing eyesight permanently. 9000 people arrested out of which 700 have been booked under the Public Safety Act. 5,500 youth reported wanted. Scores have gone into hiding to avoid arrest. The entire population of the Valley barricaded inside their homes. Mobile phones and internet connectivity disconnected. The Press gagged, journalists harassed and attacked on a daily basis. Essential supplies blocked. Hospitals attacked and ambulance drivers shot at with grave consequences for those needing emergency medical attention families in intense distress without information about their loved ones. Nocturnal raids being conducted all over the valley. Forces vandalizing residential places in many parts of the valley, destroying house hold goods, damaging vehicles, breaking window panes, beating up inmates and in some places burning harvested crops and destroying apple that a fellow Kashmiri can be a party to such inhumanity for staying in chair is extremely sad and unfortunate.
Q: What could be the corrective measure?
MUF: – Whether it is PDP or National Conference it hardly matters to the people as to their misfortune both these parties represent the interests of New Delhi in Kashmir and not the other way round . These parties know that the road to their chair is through New Delhi.They could have greatly helped to persuade New Delhi to address the Kashmir dispute had they put their foot down on it .But their weakness for chair far outweighs their concern for people’s relentless struggle and sacrifices for the settlement of the dispute for the past 70 years and so they keep compromising. The governments in From 1947 till now are all regimes deprived of power and authority and it is for this reason that we as the leaders of resistance struggle directly address Governments in Delhi.
Q: What about the appropriate steps needed for creating a conducive atmosphere for political dialogue?
MUF: – A political dialogue has to Be unconditional ,transparent and meaningful. The way to creating a conducive atmosphere for it is to stop the brutal oppression unleashed upon people. Stop taking revenge against people, stop killing and pelting people blinding and maiming them. Stop the night raids, arbitrary and random arrests and detention of youth under PSA and other draconian laws. Stop raiding and ransacking homes and beating up inmates. Release all prisoners .Allow people to assemble to protest peacefully This time when I am talking to you youth in Baramulla are being arrested on charges of hoisting Chinese flags. The youth are being deprived of any the right to protest. Allow the resistance leaders to walk free and meet for discussing the future strategy, otherwise no headway on dialogue in Kashmir is possible. It is for the Government of India to create a conducive atmosphere for talks.
Q: The youth are languishing in Jails. How could they take examination? Are they supposed to take examination in jails or outside in examination halls and how?
MUF: – The announcement for the conduct of examination is another ploy to force “normalcy “and show concern for children. On one hand the Government is killing students and teachers, arresting them, registering cases against them and on the other hand they are asked to take examination. The height of it is the suggestion by a minister that exams could be even taken in jails! Next they will suggest taking them in graveyards where the they are sending our children. Instead of releasing the children and youth the Government is continuing random arrests and thousands of youth have been pushed into police lockups and sub jails. Examinations can’t be conducted in such a hostile atmosphere.
Q: Do you think the Government should take some measures for the treatment of injured and rehabilitation of those blinded in the current unrest?
MUF: – It is their duty to so. Cases should be registered against those who have fired bullets and pellets on our youth, children and women. Such disproportionate use of force is barbaric .Unfortunately despite repeated appeals from all quarters against the use of pellet guns, even that has not been banned. When the government of India is not prepared to ban the use of pellets how can we expect any political initiative for dialogue over Kashmir.
Q: If Dialogue is not initiated would the resistance leadership think over non cooperation movement?
MUF: – We are already in the midst of a massive agitation. More than hundred days of relentless protests and shutdown conveys the message of our determination and commitment to the Government of India. Our struggle will continue, we will continue to raise our voices and protest in different forms till Kashmir dispute is resolved. If Government of India decides to get serious let it initiate a process of Unconditional Dialogue. They will find that resistance leadership will surely respond positively to such an offer of dialogue that comes from the Government of India for resolution of Kashmir issue.
Kns/Kashmir Magazine/Kashmir Today