Hurriyat leadership failed to practice what they preached and got the ire of Kashmiris

Haven’t Hurriyat’s failures killed enough Kashmiris already? Or is their waning popularity not a good enough signal for the hardliners to stop ranting their disillusioned prophecy which has done no good other than misleading and scarring the youth of Kashmir. Hurriyat is ‘becoming insignificant in the Valley of Kashmir‘ is a fact which can no more be swept under the carpet.

Why is Hurriyat facing alienation in Kashmir?

There is no denial that for long Hurriyat enjoyed unprecedented support from the people of Kashmir. Over the years Kashmiris have made enough sacrifices to provide a platform to the Hurriyat leaders to pursue their agenda – only to be let down. Hurriyat’s hollow rhetoric, non-decisive front, dubious strategies and repeated failures created a sense of skepticism in their ability to propagate any good cause for the people. Given the disparate nature of the political ideology of its components, fierce egos, emphasis on Sufism in religious belief of the vast majority of the Kashmiris and the non – achievable goal, set for itself, the Hurriyat experiment was bound to fail. By now it was also clear that Hurriyat is akin to a mute puppet whose actions were primarily based on certain directions from across the border which is politically motivated for vested interests.

Hurriyat had long sensed its support fading away, after knowingly playing long enough with the sentiments of the people; it knew that the ‘propaganda tactics‘ is failing. The umpteen boycotts, shutdowns, long spell of bandhs in the valley slowly simmered a discontent amongst the natives who initially got swayed helplessly hoping for a brighter future. Hurriyat’s repetitive and non-definite stance got people thinking ‘if Hurriyat actually speaks for the people of the valley’ and this finally turned them away.

Are Kashmiris late in shrugging off Hurriyat?

Yes, it is when the people of Kashmir repeatedly saw that what the Hurriyat preached and what it practiced were in total contrast – a sheer case of cheating!  That is when they openly started alienating Hurriyat. Better late than never. It was high time that the people of Kashmir comfortably started shrugging Hurriyat off their sleeves to have a voice of their own. Being a popular front it was expected to negotiate on many occasions however, each time sheepishly calling for boycotts because of no decision-making capability is what cheesed off the people the most. It appears that the day-to-day problems of the Kashmiris were of no genuine concern to the Hurriyat. It failed to address any development issue and only harped on propaganda politics for own survival. The separatist leadership failed to create a ‘second rung leadership’ and the movement has always been personality driven.

It is evident that Hurriyat has been on the downswing and all attempts made by the conglomerate to resurrect its failed image have not done much good. The elevation of Jamaat-e- Islami’s Mohammed Ashraf Sehrai as Chief of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat further confirms his waning influence (he wanted his elder son to take over from him). He couldn’t negotiate a leadership position for his son-in-law Altaf Fantoosh either. The fact that his own children have enjoyed all fruits of modernity yet, he pushes for a medieval existence for those whom he professes to represent which has left the bleeding youth scorn at him. There have been in fights which have come out in the open but for the first time in decades; Geelani’s authority too came into question from the new breed of militants.

Hurriyat breathing heavily

The NIA closing in on Hurriyat coupled with the US putting pressure on Pakistan to slash funding terror and dismantle terror camps is hitting Hurriyat hard. It is now well-known that bank officials in Kashmir are under constant watch, the informal channels that reportedly fund Islamic fundamentalist organizations are also under discreet scanner. Everything including chats of stone-pelters, their locations during times of turmoil, literature, including propaganda pamphlets, coming in from across the border is closely watched for clues. This has left Hurriyat crippled.

Hurriyat leaders are charged for acting under the direction of Saeed and Salahuddin and their Pakistani handlers, suspected to be ISI operatives. NIA also claims to be in possession of hard evidence and has charge sheeted separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s son-in-law Altaf Ahmad Shah aka Funtoosh, Geelani’s personal aide, Bashir Ahmad Bhatt and businessman Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali. The investigation has established beyond doubt that the Hurriyat leaders received money from Pakistan through hawala to carry out militant activities. With the noose tightened around its neck Hurriyat leaders have lesser opportunities to exploit the Kashmiris.

Hurriyat leadership failed to practice what they preach

Time and again, Hurriyat leaders, of all hues, have been subjected to the serious criticism on their political and personal conduct. About the Hurriyat Conference, there is a general refrain “Rather than solving the vexed Kashmir problem the Hurriyat Conference has confined itself to the plush offices, seminars, and occasional selective foreign tours. That it has stuck to obsolete ideas with no attempt to look for a new adjustable blueprint.

The diminished Hurriyat influence, therefore, puts a heavy burden on Kashmiri’s and the state to sincerely address the problem in Kashmir. Singing a homogenizing narrative is not enough, actions on the ground with unflinching integrity and a vision for the state which thrives on development is what is required to keep such ‘parasites‘ at bay.

16 May 2018/Monday                                                      Written by