Mirwaiz gets massive reception on return from Pakistan
1 February 2007
The Daily Excelsior
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
Srinagar: In his new-found Jihad against the 'vested interests thriving on the blood of the Kashmiris', moderate separatist leader and Chairman of a faction of the Hurriyat Conference, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, today resolved to carry forward his efforts of seeking a solution to the vexed Kashmir problem in the Hurriyat's separate dialogue process with New Delhi and Islamabad. Mirwaiz and another Hurriyat stalwart, Bilal Gani Lone, arranged a massive reception of their supporters for themselves when they reached back home after a 10-day-long visit to Pakistan. In an obvious attempt of cutting their arch rival and head of the hardline faction of the Hurriyat Conference, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, to size, Mirwaiz and Lone appeared to have mobilised their supporters and party activists to form an impressive reception. While the officials maintained that they did not take a count, a spokesman of Mirwaiz Umar's own Awami Action Committee (AAC) claimed that 828 buses, minibuses and motorcycles were in the rally. Independent circles put the number of such vehicles at over 400 and estimated that 8,000 to 12,000 people's participated in the reception. The AAC spokesman claimed that the number of participants was 'well over 30,000'. Most of the participants had been drawn from the Mirwaiz stronghold of downtown Srinagar as also from the People's Conference (PC) bastion of Handwara-Kupwara. Informed sources revealed that while staying in New Delhi for two days, Bilal Gani Lone had mobilised not only his PC votebank in Kupwara district but also a fair chunk of his supporters in Anantnag and Ganderbal. Reports said that over 200 buses came from Kupwara and Handwara alone. Some slogans in the rally indicated that brother Sajjad Lone had also provided a helping hand by silently pushing his supporters from Handwara and Anantnag. Third leader of the Hurriyat delegation, Prof Abdul Gani Bhat, has stayed back in Pakistan for a few weeks. Mirwaiz and Lone reached here at 1300 hours by a Kingfisher flight. As they emerged out of Srinagar Airport premises, thousands of their followers, who had reached here in a large number of vehicles, began shouting slogans in favour of the Hurriyat duo, Gen Musharraf and Pakistan. As they accorded a tumultuous welcome to the separatist leaders and followed them all the way to the traditional Mirwaiz seat of Rajourikadal, many groups were heard shouting slogans against Geelani and other 'enemies of the peace process'. The Hurriyat leaders' carriage accelerated its speed while passing through Hyderpora residence of Mr Geelani but their followers were seen gesticulating and shouting 'boodhi siasat nahi chalegi'. Cliché of the Kashmiri separatist slogans like 'ham kya chahte aazadi' and 'jeevay jeevay Pakistan' were punctuated with support to Mirwaiz-Musharraf efforts of finding a solution to the 60-year-old political crisis. Even as many of the Mirwaiz supporters were seen carrying the green colour AAC flags, some of the participants waved Pakistani national flags. A number of former militants of Al-Umar Mujahideen carried portraits of the outfit's founder-commander Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar alias Mushtaq Latram, presently in Pakistan. However, Lone's followers, who carried only their party's blue colour flags with emblazoned stars, besides of portraits of the PC founder late Abdul Gani Lone, appeared to be lukewarm to pro- Pakistan slogans. Authorities had made elaborate security arrangements to protect the rally against the possible attempts of sabotage in the wake of last night's grenade attack on the Mirwaiz Hurriyat headquarters at Rajbagh. IGP Kashmir, S M Sahai, and other senior Police officials were personally monitoring their armaments all along the route from Srinagar Airport to Mirwaiz Manzil. Most of the vehicles from rural areas did beat a retreat at Jehangir Chowk in uptown. Mirwaiz, who is expected to speak in detail about his Pakistan visit and related developments at Friday afternoon prayers at Jamia Masjid tomorrow, addressed his rally briefly at Jehangir Chowk and later at the final destination of Mirwaiz Manzil in Rajourikadal. In his identical speeches at Jehangir Chowk and Mirwaiz Manzil, Umar Farooq claimed that most of the people in Kashmir fully supportive of the Hurriyat's dialogue process going on separately with India and Pakistan. He asserted that today's 'grand reception' was an answer to the elements who, according to him, had used threats and violence to enforce a shutdown in the Valley against the Hurriyat's Pakistan visit on January 17th. Without mentioning the names of his estranged separatist colleague Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz said that 'some elements' were feeling threatened that the resolution of the Kashmir problem would shut their shops at home and abroad. 'From Kashmir to Europe and America, from Arab to Ajam, vested interests have been thriving on the blood of the Kashmiris. Police and military forces have developed their own vested interests and the custodial murder in Sumbal is the latest example', Mirwaiz said. He resolved to carry forward the Hurriyat's efforts of seeking a solution to the Kashmir problem in a dialogue process with New Delhi and Islamabad. 'Today's grand show of solidarity has boosted our morale and the Kashmiris have identified themselves with their genuine leadership. It's perhaps a reply to those who attempted to terrorise the people with a grenade blast done in the dead of (last) night', Mirwaiz said. Later Mirwaiz told the EXCELSIOR that his delegation's talks with the political and militant leadership in Pakistan were enough to make him confidant that the peace process would reach a breakthrough in the next six months. He said even the radical leaders like Maulana Fazal- ur-Rehman assurred the Hurriyat total support to its 'triangular dialogue' currently underway with New Delhi and Islamabad. He said that he would generate more support to his efforts after a weeklong stay in New Delhi where his mother would be under treatment after a surgery on Tuesday.