From militancy to azadi, this man is disillusioned with Pak
5 October 2002
The Times of India
SRINAGAR: At the time when militancy was at its height, he dispatched 20,000 boys to terrorist training camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). Today, the 55-year-old founder member of the separatist movement in Kashmir, Mohammad Azam Inquilabi is a mellowed man. A man who could be the crucial link between the government and the separatists in hammering out a solution to the Kashmir problem. A close associate of Maqbool Butt, father of the separatist movement, Inquilabi was the chief commander of Operation Balakot. The first chief of the United Jehadi Council (UJC), he propounds a much toned down vision of azadi today. When the UJC split in 1991, one of Inquilabi disciples, Syed Salahuddin, emerged as the leader of the stronger faction with 10 militant groups under its umbrella. Inquilabi was left with five. After Inquilabi officially distanced himself from militancy, the factions realigned under Salahuddin. What lead him to denounce militancy in 1994? The attitude of Pakistani Army generals and ISI officials. Their domination was humiliating. Besides, I realised you can never win with violence. Pakistan interest in continuing subversion in India became obvious to me during my two-year stay in London. In 1994, I returned to Srinagar to announce that I was distancing myself from militancy, says Inquilabi, who now heads an organisation called Mahajeh Azaadi. There is no role for pro- independence people in UJC, says Inquilabi. Pakistan is not interested in independence for Kashmiris. It supports militancy only to create problems for India, says Inquilabi. In 1997, Inquilabi convinced Jamait-e-Islami chief Ghulam Mohammad Butt to distance himself from militancy. It was at his behest that the latter officially disassociated himself from the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen. The separatist ideologue spends his time these days reading Nehru autobiography. In Gandhi I find a vision, says the former school teacher-cum-scholar, who has read the Bhagvad Gita, the Bible and Swami Vivekananda. Inquilabi prescription for the Kashmir imbroglio Self-rule for 15 years, during which Kashmir should have its own institutions like courts, local government etc, but defence, foreign affairs and communication should remain with the Government of India. We could have three flags Kashmir own flanked by Indian and Pakistani flags, says Inquilabi. After 15 years of self-rule, the political atmosphere would calm down. That, feels Inquilabi, would be the right time to hold a referendum. The options should be independence; joining India; or Pakistan. Inquilabi favours including Shabir Ahmed Shah and Hurriyat leaders in talks between India and Pakistan. His differences with the Hurriyat today is because of their links with Pakistan.