Kashmiri Separatists Caught In Webs Of Their Own Making

Kashmiri Separatists Caught In Webs Of Their Own Making

21 November 2013
Business Standard
Sheikh Qayoom

Srinagar: Are the separatist leaders of the moderate Hurriyat group headed by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq already talking to the central government on the Track-II level while publicly refusing any engagement at the formal level? After hectic discussions earlier this week, Mirwaiz Umer told reporters there are only two solutions to the Kashmir problem: implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions on Kashmir or a trilateral dialogue 'between India, Pakistan and the people of Kashmir'. The Mirwaiz, however, added the moderate Hurriyat group is willing to associate with any mechanism devised by New Delhi and Islamabad as long as it is aimed at a resolution of the Kashmir problem. He also said the separatist conglomerate had already spelt out its conditions for a dialogue with the Indian government, which included revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), the Public Safety Act (PSA) and removal of bunkers and watch towers from various parts of the Valley, besides release of separatist leaders from jails. The Mirwaiz also warned that house arrest restrictions on separatist leaders could result in consequences for which the government alone would be responsible. Before the Hurriyat executive met Monday at its uptown Rahbagh headquarters in Srinagar, the local media had run front-page stories that fuelled intense speculation that the separatist conglomerate would announce a dialogue with Delhi. An earlier meeting of the separatist leaders with the Pakistani prime minister's security advisor, Sartaj Aziz, in New Delhi made many Kashmiris believe the Hurriyat leaders had been asked to start speaking to New Delhi so that the halted peace process between the two countries would get the impetus to move forward. Immediately after meeting Aziz, Hurriyat spokesman and former chairman Abdul Gani Bhat said it was ready to resolve the Kashmir problem at any cost. Senior hardline separatist leader and chairman of his own Hurriyat group, Syed Ali Geelani, is standing his ground that there can be no dialogue with the federal government as past experiences of separatists had proved these lead nowhere. Interestingly, when asked whether the moderate leaders including himself had met former RAW chief A.S. Daulat and some other important people who are votaries of a Track-II dialogue, Mirwaiz Umer said: 'So many people come and meet us. What is the harm in that?' In the past too, perceived emissaries of the central government have been meeting the separatist leaders during their visits to Kashmir although both the moderate and the hardline Hurriyat groups had declined to meet the three central interlocutors, Dileep Padgoankar, Radha Kumar and M.M. Ansari, after their appointment following the 2008 Amarnath Shrine land row agitation. The separatist leaders are caught in straitjackets of their own making as they seem to believe both New Delhi and Islamabad have little to offer them - at least till there is a new government in power at the centre next May. To talk or not to talk remains the dilemma that will continue to fox the separatist camp in Kashmir as the mainstream political parties are readying their gloves for the Lok Sabha elections.