Is this man the biggest roadblock to peace in Kashmir valley?
Continuing the series on Jammu & Kashmir, today, a little bit about Syed Ali Geelani – in my view, the single biggest road-block to any lasting peace in Kashmir valley.
First, some background. This excerpt is from a news-report dated 2008. I had filed this under “stories that don’t make it as a lead-item”. From Praveen Swami’s An Islamist’s resurrection in Kashmir (emphasis added):
In his pronouncements in recent weeks, the Islamist patriarch himself has left the world in little doubt of his ideological agenda. Speaking to the New Delhi-based journalist Aasha Khosa, Geelani called for the creation of an Islamic nizamiat, or state, in which the “creed of socialism and secularism should not touch our lives and we must be totally governed by the Koran and the Sunnat [precedents from Prophet Muhammad’s life].”
For long, Geelani has argued that Hinduism and Islam are locked in an irreducible civilisational opposition. At an October 26, 2007 rally in Srinagar, he demanded that “the people of the State should, as their religious duty, raise their voice against India’s aggression.”
I doubt if Geelani was mis-understood – or misquoted. The soon-to-be-81 year is the prime force behind the “separatist” movement and has, for years, successfully walked the fine line between open rebellion and “protests” against the state – almost turning it into an art.
Image courtesy: Wikipedia
Unsurprisingly, he evokes strong feelings.
On Thursday last week (Sept 2nd), BJP Rajya Sabha MP and senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani called him a mortal enemy of Kashmir. Jethmalani said:
He is an intentional abettor of murder. The state and central government must pick up courage and arrest Geelani and incarcerate him in some jail far away from Srinagar
The next day Farooq Abdullah, responding to Geelani’s challenge to him to repeat the speech he made in Parliament at Lal Chowk in Srinagar. said:
Why should I react to Geelani’s challenge? What’s his locus-standi and who is he?”
Although Geelani is widely believed to have received assistance from ISI and other arms of the Pakistani government over the years, we have been reduced to “taking great satisfaction” in the fact that he has previously described himself as a “senior citizen of India” (in an application form to avail himself of travel concessions).
But who is the real Geelani?
Is he the one who asks his “supporters” to make non-violence their strategy while maintaining that “Jihad” is an option to resolve the dispute in Jammu & Kashmir?
Is he the one who claims to be a Pakistani but gets himself certified as an Indian citizen to avail of benefits?
Is the real Geelani someone who can be trusted?
Now, instead of thinking hard about these questions, guess what does our Government do? It goes out of its way to court him. A cursory web search reveals that successive governments have been trying since 2001 to have a “dialogue” with Geelani – with no apparent success.
The present one continues down the same path. Instead of saying bluntly “No dialogue as long as you speak the language of Azaadi”, it bends..and keeps on bending. Instead of exploiting his apparently dwindling support base, it continues to lend him credibility by offering to talk to him. Lacking the moral courage to tackle the crisis in Kashmir and lacking the political will to call a spade, a spade, it continues to reach out to him, adding further to his “stature” amongst the stone-pelting “youth” of Kashmir valley…ignoring the fact that the “Azaadi” Geelani claims to be fighting for is not really about freedom in the true sense of the word…It is – as fellow blogger Sandeep said – the freedom to make Kashmir an Islamic state.
Make no mistake. The core issue for Hurriyat is not greater autonomy or development or peace or AFSPA or alleged “human rights” violations. The focal point of Geelani and his followers’ agenda is to somehow trigger the break-up of Jammu & Kashmir and form an Islamic state in the valley.
Let us make sure our people are made aware of this…let us make sure that the powers that be are not lulled into a false sense of security by Geelani’s calls for non-violence. Let us make sure that this man is taken out of any and all equations regarding Jammu & Kashmir. Let us make sure that he is tried for sedition under IPC Section 124A. The more we acknowledge his “hold” on the people, the more strident his stand becomes…the more we hail the “shifts in his stand“, the more intractable the problem becomes.
Sadly, none of this is likely to happen… So we’ll just have to wait – wait for a stroke of good luck – or a slow realisation of sense…or for the tide to turn….which it might just be. From a news-report last week:
Exasperated with repeated shutdowns, curfews and violent deaths, Kashmiris defied hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani‘s strike call and went about their business as usual.
I wish the residents of Kashmir valley continue with their “business as usual”. And on the off-chance that Sh Geelani is reading this, my sincere request to you Sir is: “Please realise that Azaadi will always be a non-starter in any attempt at resolving the situation in Jammu & Kashmir. It is time you step aside and give up chasing the dream. Jai Hind, Jai Bharat!”
Comments and thoughts welcome as always.
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