August 2017 News
Modi Government Must Keep Its Promise And Break Hurriyat10 August 2017
Mumbai: The Hurriyat has been given a long rope by successive governments in Jammu & Kashmir. That rope is about to become a noose. Hurriyat separatists are Pakistan's Trojan Horse in the Valley. They perform three tasks for their handlers in the Pakistani army and ISI. One, to subvert and indoctrinate Kashmiri youth in jihad against India. Two, to serve as financial conduits for terrorists infiltrating across the Line of Control (LoC) from Pakistan. Three, to engage with Indian civil society and journalists to alter the narrative of terrorists in the Valley as homegrown freedom fighters, absolving Pakistan of complicity. Kid gloves For years the UPA and NDA governments have treated Hurriyat separatists with kid gloves. They were given Z+ security, covert payments to moderate their rhetoric, and even government jobs to mollify their family members. In this self-defeating exercise, every state government has been complicit. The Omar Abdullah-led National Conference presided over one of the most violent summers in 2010 as a result of its dilatory approach to the Hurriyat. The PDP-BJP alliance government hasn't been much better. Chief minister Mehbooba Mufti is as much of a closet separatist sympathiser as Abdullah. The BJP has played the role of junior partner in the J&K government with inexplicable timidity. It took a major policy change by the Centre to end soft-pedalling the Hurriyat. Since the crackdown on separatists by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), several Hurriyat leaders are in jail. The NIA estimates that the family of the head of the Hurriyat's hardline faction, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, owns 14 properties in Kashmir and Delhi valued at over Rs 150 crore. These include a prime seven-acre land in Sopore, Baramulla. The Geelani family has done well out of terror financing through hawala and benami transactions from Pakistan. The properties owned by the Geelanis include an educational institution, residences and agricultural land in Kashmir and flats in Delhi. These are allegedly owned by Geelani, his two sons, Naseem and Nayeem, and four daughters (from two marriages) Anisha, Farhat, Zamshida and Chamshida. The NIA's crackdown on the Hurriyat caught the terrorist-enablers by surprise. The arrested Hurriyat foot soldiers (six from Srinagar, one from Delhi) include Altaf Ahmad Shah, Funtoosh Geelani, Ayaz Akbar Khandey, Raja Mehrajuddin Kalwal, Peer Saifullah, Aftab Hilali Shah (alias Shahid-ul-Islam), Nayeem Khan and Farooq Ahmad Dar (alias Bitta Karate). Does this mean the end of the Hurriyat in the Valley? Clearly not. The 'leaders' arrested are mid-level operators. Terror financing carries on as before. Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq continue to flit between house arrest and medical treatment at Delhi's best hospitals. They retain India's tax-paid security, albeit downgraded. India remains a soft state, Kashmir its soft underbelly. In chief minister Mehbooba the Hurriyat has a long-standing champion. She has opposed the NIA's jurisdiction in J&K. She also opposes a central government proposal to block cross-LoC trade. Valued at over Rs 2,200 crore, the 'trade' is rife with corruption. Elements in the Border Security Force at border crossings are alleged to have struck deals with Pakistan's Rangers. Some of the money and goods smuggled across the border are used by the Hurriyat's operatives to foment unrest in the Valley. mufti-modi-copy_081017094443.jpg Charade If the NDA government wants to end this debilitating charade, it must follow up the NIA arrests with three sets of concrete actions. First, make sure the arrested Hurriyat members stay in jail. The Hurriyat has already hired top Indian lawyers (always available to the highest bidder) to defend them in court. Meanwhile, strip all senior Hurriyat leaders of security, perks and government jobs for family members. Second, continue the high-intensity campaign by the security forces (the army, CRPF and J&K police) to eliminate terrorists Pakistan infiltrates into the Valley. The Hurriyat supports them with paid stone-pelters to distract the security forces whenever an encounter takes place. There are around 250 active terrorists currently in the Valley. An estimated 124 have been killed since January 2017. There must be no let-up by the security forces either in the Valley or at the LoC. Terrorism Third, focus on development in the Valley. Only five major districts in Kashmir are hotbeds of terrorism. The rest of the Valley has not yet been Wahhabised. Unlike in Syria and Iraq, stones, not bombs, are Kashmir's weapons of choice. It is now vitally important that the full funds promised by the NDA government for flood relief and all-round infrastructure development are released quickly. Kashmiri youth want the same things other Indian youths seek: education, jobs, family, and peace. The PDP-BJP alliance government will complete 18 months under Mehbooba's leadership in October 2017. It has not been a successful partnership of two opposite ideological poles. The options though are limited. Governor's rule would imply the battle against terror in the Valley is not being won. Dissolving the PDP-BJP alliance and calling for fresh elections three years before they are due (in December 2020) would be another admission of failure. The campaign to neutralise Pakistani terrorists like Abu Dujana must be intensified. As summer fades into autumn next month, the security forces will have an advantage. The long winter months ahead will give them the opportunity to finish the job. Meanwhile, the Narendra Modi government must seize the moment to deliver on its promise of development and remove the Hurriyat permanently as a factor in the Valley.