Prof Gani Bhat's 2012 truth: compulsion or admission?

Prof Gani Bhat's 2012 truth: compulsion or admission?

14 May 2012
The Daily Excelsior


Jammu: With his first 'independent' public rally in hometown Botengo, near Sopore, senior leader of the Mirwaiz Umar Farooq-led faction of the Hurriyat Conference and former head of the separatist conglomerate, Prof Abdul Gani Bhat, has stirred a hornet's nest across the Valley's political spectrum. Cynics in the separatist camp have gone to the extent of drawing parallels between Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah's return to the mainstream political arena in 1975 and Prof Bhat's truth in 2012. Both happened on completion of 22 years of 'secessionist wilderness' of the two Kashmiri leaders. Sheikh, popularly known as Sher-e-Kashmir, was dismissed in August 1953 as the independent state's first 'Wazeer-e-Azam' (Prime Minister), arrested and tried for treason. He returned to power in 1975 and agreed, under the Indira Abdullah Accord, to work as Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir. Bhat has been spearheading the separatist movement since 1990. It is for the first time, in 2012, that he has described over sixty-year-old UN Security Council resolutions on J&K as 'not practicable' in resolution of the Kashmir problem in current circumstances. Intelligentsia from Srinagar and Jammu to New Delhi seems to be reading too much in Prof Bhat's paroxysm. Characteristic of one time teacher of the Persian language and literature in Degree Colleges of Sopore and Baramulla, high political ballooning has been remarkably witnessed from him in the last few years. In the Persian classical 'Gulistaan', Sheikh Sa'adi Sheerazi reveals that he learned all the wisdom from the unwise. He did exactly the reverse of what the unwise did, says the saint. In his recent sailing against the wind, is Prof Bhat outpouring his wisdom and thus rewriting the tenets of 'correct politics'? Time will tell. At this stage, one would have to sit fingers crossed as this academic politician has a history- much like almost all of his colleagues in the Hurriyat- of succumbing to pressures and making somersaults. Even after his Botengo balloon, when Bhat found himself lonely at the oar, he lost no time in making 'clarifications'. He thumped the tables to say it loud and clear that 'Azadi' was the goal and there were two ways of achieving it-second being the 'tripartite talks' between New Delhi, Islamabad and the Kashmiri leadership (read Rajbagh). He drove short of 'clarification' that Farooq Abdullah's National Conference and Mufti Sayeed's PDP could have a role in facilitation of the 'tripartite talks'. As he would like to call them, the 'untold truths' have been intermittently coming out of Prof Bhat. In January last year, he sprang a surprise across Valley buy admitting publicly, after 21 years of the guerrilla warfare, that 'almost everybody of our intellectuals, political and religious leaders was eliminated by our own boys'. Coming from the proverbial horse's mouth, Bhat's confession, on occasion of the assassination ceremony of the Kashmir University's Professor of Law Dr Abdul Ahad Wani, literally shut the mouth of the protagonists who shouted for decades that every single intellectual in the Valley had been eliminated by the Indian security forces and the counter-insurgents attached to them. Groups aligned to Syed Ali Shah Geelani's radical faction of the Hurriyat have raised a storm over Bhat's 'loose talk' but, significantly, Islamabad does not seem to have taken ill of his assertion. This has, to an extent, emboldened Bhat's 'moderate' colleagues in the Mirwaiz-led Hurriyat. With a marked shift on their traditional track, cleric-politicians like Mirwaiz and Aga Syed Hassan of Budgam have delivered more of their sermons on governance and development than their clich├ęd subject of Azadi and resistance in the last two weeks. Even before that, Mirwaiz hogged headlines over inaugurating a commercial complex belonging to a non-Muslim in downtown Srinagar. Interestingly, of late, Mirwaiz has shown tremendous concern over the mushroom growth of canines and the increasing numbers of humans being bitten by pariah and rabid dogs in Srinagar every day. He has been speaking about the condition of roads and the quality of air and drinking water besides rising prices, traffic jams and the 'cruel' school timings. For 22 years, Mirwaiz and his colleagues viewed such mundane issues and demands as 'gameplan of the Indian agencies to distract attention from the real issue of Azadi'. Will this reasoning, they called for massive protests and enforced boycott to Assembly and Parliamentary elections. In fact, saying something in Srinagar is more courageous than saying the same in New Delhi, Muzaffarabad or Islamabad. Even the men like JLKF Chairman, Yasin Malik, have been demonstrating that 'courage' every month. One would even refer to many of Mirwaiz Umar's 'courageous' statements delivered outside Kashmir. When, nearly a decade ago, Jihadist guerrillas took exception to Mirwaiz Umar's purported remarks in his interview to Time magazine [in which he blamed militants of looting the Kashmir Azadi funds] and they wanted him bend, he crawled with a 'clarification' at Jamia Masjid. He 'clarified' that 'renegades and Ikhwanis' had been 'looting the Kashmir Azadi funds'! Were the renegades supported by Pakistan and holding key to the Azadi funds? Nobody dared to question. In current scenario too, Mirwaiz has exhausted his energy since last week to make it clear to Prof Bhat's critics that the Hurriyat, as a separatist umbrella, was holding the UN resolutions on Kashmir sacrosanct. Not long ago, none other than Mirwaiz, said at a conference in Karachi that the Kashmir problem could not be resolved on the basis of majority minority (read UN resolutions). As reported by then Srinagar Bureau Chief of Daily Excelsior, Ahmed Ali Fayyaz, from Karachi in March 2006, Mirwaiz made the courageous statement on a platform which had veterans like the former PoK President and 'Prime Minister' Sardar Abdul Qayoom Khan, as the key speakers. NC's veteran, Mohammad Shafi Uri, PDP stalwart and then Forest Minister, Tariq Hamid Karra, CPM leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami and political commentator Balraj Puri were also present. As reported in Excelsior and never contradicted by anybody, Mirwaiz asserted in his speech that the future of the multi-culture, multi-faith and multi-language state of Jammu and Kashmir could never be determined on the pattern of vote counting. He emphasized on the 'all inclusive' resolution and made it clear that there was no way of an exclusive resolution. Mirwaiz is not expected to repeat his own Karachi statement of March 2006 and thus second his colleague Prof Bhat, more so when the UN Secretary General Banki Moon's recognition of the Kashmir resolutions in New Delhi is still live. But, even at this stage, it is unmistakably clear that many men of consequence in Kashmir's separatist camp have afresh begun to read the writing on the wall post 9-11 (terror strikes on America that turned the world against terrorism), post-26-11 (Mumbai strikes that forced change in New Delhi's softness towards terror) and post-2010 (street violence that left over 100 dead in Valley without any achievement). All to be watched with interest is whether Prof Gani's boat would sail smooth or it would be rocked by hardliners like Geelani. In their attempt to keep themselves 'politically correct' in Srinagar, Bhat's own colleagues or the pseudo-separatist parties in the mainstream fold could also play the spoilsport.