Mirwaiz Umar must dump Hurriyat and join national mainstream to move ahead


New Delhi : A Kashmiri separatist conglomerate, which calls itself as ‘All Parties Hurriyat Conference’ (APHC), has said on Monday that its Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq completed “40 months of arbitrary and extra-judicial house detention” on 5 August 2022.

“Mirwaiz was put under detention on August 4th, 2019 at his residence and since then continues to be incarcerated. All his rights stand suspended. He is not allowed to come out of his house nor can visitors meet him. Police and paramilitary troops are permanently stationed outside his residence,” said the APHC or the Hurriyat statement.

Quoting Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India, which the Hurriyat does not accept, the amalgam says that Mirwaiz Umar’s “extra-judicial incarceration” is a gross violation of the UN charter of human rights of which India is a signatory. “Yet for the last 40 consecutive months despite appeals for his release from all quarters, being the religious head of the state also, he continues to be incarcerated,” it added.

The statement praises Mirwaiz “for standing firm on his principled political stand with regard to the resolution of the Kashmir dispute and peace in subcontinent”. “APHC emphasised that policies based on oppression and coercion are short lived and cannot alter the facts of history. Problems and disputes have to be resolved sooner or later and peaceful negotiations provide the best option,” it added further.

With reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s article on the occasion of India taking over Presidency of G-20, the Hurriyat has called for resolution of the world issues, including Kashmir, through “healing, harmony and hope”. “APHC said that it once again reiterates the call for unconditional release of all political prisoners, activists, journalists and youth including its chairman, which will lead to creating a favourable environment for reconciliation and resolution of issues”.

Government has maintained that Mirwaiz Umar’s detention, alongside the house arrest and detention of a number of the mainstream as well as the separatist leaders, was warranted by abrogation of Article 370. It has repeatedly said that such detentions, which lasted for three to fourteen months, were necessary not only for maintenance of peace but also to ensure safety and security of these politicians. Those detained on 4 August 2019 also included three former Chief Ministers — Dr Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti.

While Farooq and Omar were released respectively on 13 March 2020 and 24 March 2020, Mehbooba was the last of the mainstream detainees who was set free on 13 October 2020.

Politicians of both the genres — mainstream as well as separatist — have been proved wrong with regard to their apprehensions over the consequences of the erstwhile State’s total assimilation in the Indian Union. They continued to warn that revocation of the State’s special status would trigger a ‘bloodbath’ in Kashmir as “thousands”, according to them, would die in clashes, protests and demonstrations.

As in 2020-22 the mainstream politicians in Kashmir realised that nobody was going to die, they began to reconcile to the new reality that had dawned over the region. Changing their positions from restoration of Article 370 and 35-A, most of them began demanding “restoration of Statehood” which, in fact, was Prime Minister Modi’s and the Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s own commitment on the floor of the Parliament.

Farooq Abdullah, who for three years asserted that he wouldn’t contest any elections in the UT, is now eagerly waiting to jump into the fray.

Political analysts insist that all other post-2019 hardliners — including Omar, Mehbooba and NC’s Aga Ruhullah — would take cue from Farooq.

“They will all campaign and contest the UT’s first Assembly election whenever held,” said one of them.

Three particular developments have changed the political history in 2019: The killing of 40 CRPF men in a terror strike in February; the BJP’s second consecutive victory in the Lok Sabha elections in May; and, reorganisation of the erstwhile State in August. The following three years witnessed a total reversal of the 30-year-long turbulent situation across the valley.

According to very reliable reports, at least two senior Hurriyat leaders — both in Mirwaiz Umar’s APHC — are preparing their children, relatives and party workers to contest the Assembly elections. The hardest of them, Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Ashraf Sehrai, have died in 2021. Others are facing serious charges of indulgence in terrorism and terror funding and there is hardly any chance of their release for the next 5-10 years. This was, in fact, an opportune time for ‘moderates’ like Mirwaiz to come out and participate in the Indian democratic processes without a refrain of the Pakistani narrative which they sustained for a long time.

It’s no secret that Mirwaiz is a victim of a conflict within. Nobody knows better than him as to who killed his father Mirwaiz Mohammad Farooq and uncle Maulvi Mushtaq and who set ablaze his Islamia High School. Some claim that the killer of his father lies buried just five tombs away from his.

On the other hand, paradoxically, none other than the young cleric-politician has to take upon himself the slur of the entire stone pelting and terrorism in Srinagar downtown. The deadliest incidents of stone pelting in 2010-19 occurred in the areas of Mirwaiz Umar’s influence. Mushtaq Zargar’s ‘Al-Umar Mujahideen’ is still alleged as the guerrilla arm of Mirwaiz Umar’s Awami Action Committee.

Deputy SP Ayub Pandit was mercilessly lynched to death outside Jamia Masjid, Mirwaiz dynasty’s traditional seat of power.

When the UT Government decided to allow the congregational prayers after a 30-week-long pause of the post-August 2019 restrictions and Covid on 4 March 2022, the saboteurs didn’t stay silent. On just the third Friday, a group of them grabbed the lead area while shouting slogans for ‘Azadi’ and the militants.

“Since there’s no assurance from the Mirwaiz-led management that the mosque would not be misused for secessionist programmes and promotion of terror and turbulence, there is no possibility of the young cleric regaining his seat of influence. Nobody is worried whether he stays in house arrest for 40 months or 80 months,” said a senior official.

He claimed that the cleric’s “detention in safety” was the result of a “mutual understanding”.

The Mirwaiz dynasty has never contested the elections directly or taken Ministerial berths.

However, Mirwaiz Farooq with his AAC was part of a larger political alliance that campaigned and contested the 1977 Assembly elections under the leadership of Prime Minister Morarji Desai. Desai proudly visited Mirwaiz Manzil amid welcome songs from the Mirwaiz followers. Later, BJP was born out of Desai’s Janata Party.

In 1986-87, Mirwaiz Farooq joined the alliance of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and the NC chief Farooq Abdullah. He got a share of two seats in the Assembly elections of 1987 in downtown Srinagar who contested as Independent candidates with no opposition from the NC and the Congress.

This is for none other than Mirwaiz Umar to take a call whether to chase the mirage of azadi or prepare himself for the new political order. — IANS


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