Declare Kashmir disputed, the violence will stop - Geelani
23 February 2001
The Indian Express
BARAMULLA: Rejecting the Hurriyat Conference proposal to visit Pakistan as a means to strengthen the peace process, hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani today demanded that Parliament should formally accept the disputed status of Kashmir if Centre wanted militant violence to end. "We don"t need to go to Pakistan. If Government of India accepts the hard reality that Kashmir is a disputed territory, we will ask the mujahideen to stop their activities right from here," Geelani told a gathering after Friday prayers here. "If Vajpayee is sincere about the ceasefire, Parliament should pass a resolution accepting the disputed status of Kashmir based on its historical background, in the same manner as it resolved that Kashmir was an integral part of India." Otherwise, Geelani said, "The ceasefire is just a ploy to deceive the people." Though Geelani has always taken a hard posture, his latest stand, which came one day after the Centre extended the ceasefire for three months, has cast ashadow on the proposed visit of the five member Hurriyat delegation to Pakistan. Now that the ceasefire has been extended, it was believed that the Centre would allow the trip as a follow-up measure. By placing this new condition, Geelani seemed to be shifting from his traditional stance of demanding tripartite talks involving Pakistan and Kashmiri separatists in exchange for a halt in militant violence. He claimed that previous attempts at a ceasefire had been deliberately squandered. After the Simla agreement, the government "got 28 years to act and use this peace period to resolve this dispute, but nothing was done." He added, "We have a bitter experience of 54 years now and we are not going to be deceived again by this peace ploy." Geelani claimed that the actual aim of the ceasefire was to ensure "occupation" of Kashmiri territory. "The Government is only interested in Kashmir's land, its scenic beauty, its resorts like Gulmarg and Pahalgam, not in the people of Kashmir." Referring indirectly to the moderates in the separatist conglomerate, Geelani said it was time to reject secular politics and politicians. "We have reached a turning point. The Kashmiri nation is at a two-way junction and now the people have to decide whether they will adopt Islamic politics or secular politics," he said. Responding to Vajpayee's warning to Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad, Geelani said they were part and parcel of the separatist movement. "If India could send its troops to help break the eastern arm of Pakistan to form Bangladesh, why can"t a few Lashkar and Jaish mujahideen come to help us fight the suppression here?" he asked. After his speech at the mosque, Geelani was taken in a procession to the old town, where followers chanted pro-Pakistan slogans. However, only a few kilometres away, a few hundred men and women of the Sikh community were shouting anti-Pakistan and anti-ceasefire slogans. Gathered outside a gurdwara to mourn the killing of policeman by an unidentified gunman yesterday, the agitated crowd blocked the road by burning logs and tyres. They demanded that the Centre immediately withdraw the ceasefire. "We are not safe here anymore. It is all because of this ceasefire. Militancy has strengthened because of the ceasefire," said Manjeet Kour, the slain policeman's cousin. Sardar Janak Singh Sodhi, a Sikh leader here, said the Sikhs had remained neutral during the past ten years of militancy. "We don"t hate anybody. We are an absolute minority here. We wanted to live peacefully but now we are being targeted," he said. Many agitated youngsters were even demanding migration out of the valley.