Last week the venerated father figure of the resistance camp sprung a welcome surprise. Forgetting the past and starting anew, Syed Ali Geelani appealed all pro-movement parties to forge unity to ‘defeat the Delhi’s move aimed at suppressing the Kashmir movement’.
The unity call follows a routine meeting of the Hurriyat leaders with Pakistan ambassador in Delhi. And every such occasion badly exposes the ‘me too’ delusion of grandeur of the divided leadership. The reverend knights mounting on the steed of their inflated egos avoid eye contact to preserve their imagined dukedoms. In togetherness they feel smaller, belittled in public ratings. Perhaps. Their hosts must be finding it difficult to tell them apart while people at home are left gnawing at themselves.
A unity call from a political heavy weight of Geelani’s stature gives the call a significance and relevance of its own. Timing is important. Of late there has been systematic and calibrated efforts from various quarters to disembowel Kashmir of many constitutional guarantees and demographic safeguards. The rise of BJP in Delhi and its nefarious Kashmir agenda precipitates the threat. Geelani’s feeling the throb of the advancing danger is as much laudable as his realizing the need of making a common cause to foil such attempts.
Giving the unity call a ‘practical shape’ Hurriyat(G) has formed a three- member group extending the formal invitation to the different factions. They started with meeting Shabir Shah of Hurriyat JK. In the coming days they are sure to reach other people.
How a united stand has to evolve and Geelani has drawn out the contours. There is a directive of NOs : no bilateral or triangular talks with India, no participation of elections directly or indirectly, no to 4-point formula or concept of soft border.
Hurriyat of whatever grouping it is, if it has to be loyal to its commitment and stay relevant cannot afford to sever its umbilical cord, not change the goal post. That dilution in its stand or deviation from its existential imperative to many people amounts to betrayal, a sell-out. As the last seven decade turmoil does bear witness that legendary Abdullah in Indian loop did not cement the status-quo. With him Kashmir did not sleep in grave.
However, the ‘ strategies’ talked about to achieve that goal have always to go in sync with demands of the time. They need to be polished, refined, even amended. During our struggle we followed a certain modus operandi we believed would scale us to our goal. That it didn’t change the situation should not clog our mind from other options. Just our obsession on that worn-out track cannot make our integrity doubtful, our new explorations for realization of the same goal should not make us ashamed of.
And it is precisely for that purpose we need a common platform. The basic premise of which is to dissolve one’s individuality in consensus. That very commonness puts a bar on the monopoly of opinion and working out the course action.
Hurriyat split how and on what grounds we know. Fatigue and exhaustion takes a toll of its own. Musharraf’s 4-point humiliation then came ready tonic for the tired. But the ground reality ultimately veered them to the main dominant narrative. This augurs well for narrowing the differences and washing off the ill will.
Geelani’s unity call, if materialized, is not only going to revive Hurriyat to its old days of brotherhood ties, it can also serve a prism to look through where it faulted, with the warning not to repeat the follies it committed. Except sovereignty of basics, nothing else is sacrosanct. Any single approach we need not to be hooked on. Its sell-by-date caution invites scrutiny. That hard task falls in the domain of collective analysis. Call it Majlis-e-Shoura or whatever you like, ownership of guiding the movement is its sole prerogative which cannot be vested in on one soul, not even Geelani Sahib.
Hurriyat mitotic division besides other cumulative causes has in it the dominant bullying position of its executive council. To a few party heads (some of whom have forfeited their public acceptability long ago) it kept revolving around and their choices prevailing. Even if their commitment got frayed, their rallying together made the situation woefully inhospitable for those who opposed. Earlier Geelani’s and latter Shabir’s and Nayeem’s leaving the once a unified forum and constituting their parallel groupings was affected because of this suffocation
For reconstructing the conglomerate anew restructuring of Hurriyat holds pre -eminence, where policy decisions of the Executive should be endorsed by the Working Committee and it be authorized to elect the Executive members.
Right to self determination is a long drawn struggle the dawn of which cannot be time framed. It will carry on, testing our patience and resolve. But issues like Article 370 , demography, Sharnartthes, land grab, environment, proposed settlements and power projects warrant immediate restlessness from our part. They cannot be put on hold TILL the time Kashmir is resolved. For they are tagged with our future, our survival. Our being from a Muslim Kashmir.
Tail piece: ‘It is well-known fact’, remarked Albert Camus, ‘that we always recognize our homeland when we are about to lose it’.