Friday''s Kashmir strike a setback to Hurriyat
23 September 2001
The Times of India
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
NEW DELHI: The complete strike on Friday called by some militant groups in the Kashmir Valley has given a new dimension to the decade-long separatist movement in Jammu and Kashmir by marginalising the Hurriyat Conference and raising a question mark on their claim of being representatives of the people. The strike call given by prominent militant groups like Lashker-e-Taiba and Harkat-ul- Mujahideen was observed throughout the Valley under the shadow of terror though Hurriyat Conference had given a call to the people not to be associated with the hartal call. Hurriyat Conference insiders said that the complete shut down of the Kashmir Valley was ''not in good taste'' as the 23-party conglomerate had decided to stay away from the strike call and express solidarity with Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf. The insiders said that it would be a long way for the amalgam to undo the damage caused by Friday''s strike by the militant groups. Dukhtaraan-e-Millat chief Asiysa Andrabi, who had also given a call in support of Friday''s bandh, has lashed out at the Hurriyat leaders and termed them as ''poor animals'' besides terming the observance of the hartal as a ''forceful slap'' on the Hurriyat Conference. Andrabi, in her statement, even castigated some fundamentalist elements within the conglomerate and said ''even those Hurriyat constituents who have been exploiting the people in the name of Islam have changed colours like a chameleon.'' She asked the Hurriyat leaders to wind up their shop and ''look for a legitimate livelihood.'' Another militant faction, Jammu and Kashmir Islamic Front (JKIf), has also threatened the Hurriyat leaders of dire consequences for not supporting the bandh call. Kashmir analysts have termed the move as the ''beginning of the end of Hurriyat Conference in the Kashmir Valley'' besides bestowing legitimacy on the perception of Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah that the amalgam was only an extension of Pakistan''s high commission. The second rung leadership of the Hurriyat Conference also agrees with the fact that the conglomerate would have to face rough weather in future. Meanwhile, Hurriyat Conference top leadership has decided to stay out of the limelight with a few, including its chairman Abdul Ghani Bhat, who is now facing death threat from JKIF, choosing to remain away from Srinagar for sometime now.