Hurriyat and challenges ahead

Hurriyat may have out lived its sell by date in the present form. We may be driven by reasons and local compulsions to give it a benefit of doubt, but Government of India, Government of Pakistan and the international community have their own measures to critically appreciate the composite capabilities of Hurriyat in a non-involved manner. If Hurriyat is serious for a role to play it has to revisit the intervening period of 1990-2015, for its own credible survival and for the sake of the people of Kashmir. It may have made serious mistakes within the borders of the State and caused unbelievable (avoidable) loss to the character of the Kashmir case outside Kashmir as well. Writing Hurriyat off or waiting to see it disintegrate and disappear from the scene at this point would not help the Kashmir case. It needs to survive and repair its house.

There are rigorous efforts going on and constituents from one group or the other are readying themselves to join one or the other group, most probably the Hurriyat Geelani group. These constituents have their own explanations and one thing remains a fact that political migration from one group to the other has remained common in the past as well. So a migration for the sake of a migration would neither help the Geelani Hurriyat nor would these constituents and the common people again feel cheated if they are subjected to a game of political musical chairs.

We need to feel concerned on the workings of Hurriyat because every group of Hurriyat in Srinagar is fully resourced on behalf of the people of Jammu and Kashmir by the political, moral and diplomatic support of the government of Pakistan, enjoys the good will of the people living in PaK, GB and the vocal Kashmiri diaspora. All that Hurriyat has to work for is that it remains a “symbol” of Kashmiri sentiment and it can’t do so unless the senior leadership trains the constituents on the objects declared in the Constitution adopted on 31 July 1993 and the jurisprudence of Kashmir case, envisaged in the UN Security Council Resolutions and UNCIP Resolutions.

People of Jammu and Kashmir inside and outside the state are struggling hard to adjust with the divisions in the Hurriyat. We have friends in Hurriyat (G), Hurriyat (M), JK Hurriyat and outside Hurriyat (JKLF) as well. In addition to all this we see them all fully accountable and transparent in all aspects of their work. The division as a start drives each group to run into a non-productive debate to explain itself at the cost of the other. No matter how much convincing the argument may be, it embeds an amount of ridicule and censure for the other. The situation does not help the Kashmir case at all.

Hurriyat (G) carries a moral edge that it owns the Constitution of 31 July 1993, continues to express its faith in the jurisprudence of UN Mechanism on Kashmir and at one important point in the history said a categorical no to Musharraf’s four-point formula. The author has continued to oppose the Musharraf’s four point formula and became a persona non grata for those who lunged out of Kashmiri line and volunteered to sell Musharraf formula in the State and at the international forums. Fate as it may be stands witness, that those Kashmiris who volunteered to betray the jurisprudence of Kashmir case and decided to sell Musharraf’s four-point formula (as he asked them in his book), have all been proven wrong and discredited.

With the disappearance of Musharraf, all Kashmir Centres in Brussels, London and Washington have closed down and their appointed chiefs had no conviction to face the challenge. They rushed for a comfortable retreat. It is clear that it the perseverance and commitment that endures the day. I and my institution may have encountered difficulties over the years, but there has been no change in the kind of our work that we have been doing at the United Nations and at other forums.

JKCHR documentation continues to be adopted as UN General Assembly Documents on Kashmir and remains a continuous credible guide. At one point the establishment in Pakistan was so annoyed with me, as it was with Syed Ali Geelani, that in 2009, I was asked in Mirpur, whether I had a visa to be there. It did not deter me to maintain an equitous and good relationship with Hurriyat groups in Srinagar. The shadow Hurriyat in Islamabad (Pakistan) could be excused for adjusting the compass of its relations according to local temperature.

Hurriyat (G) has very rightly set up a committee to grant admission to those constituents who have left Hurriyat (M) and has sought their unequivocal pledge to the Constitution adopted in July 1993. We hope that these groups have left Hurriyat (M) for some real and substantive reasons in regard to Hurriyat performance and non-adherence to the Constitution. However, their leaving the Hurriyat (M) alone does not make them pious and pro-People. They may need to make up for the time that they have spent in defending Hurriyat (M) and opposing Hurriyat (G) for a sufficient time. These groups have to convince us that this migration from one group to the other is for the Kashmir cause and not for any other private reason. Hurriyat (G) and Hurriyat (M) should also ensure that ‘letterhead’ one man groups are not encouraged to be in driving seat of Kashmir politics.

Hurriyat and others outside Hurriyat have many challenges ahead. It is important that Hurriyat is quick enough to fall back on its Constitution to successfully challenge the Indian establishment and its support base in Kashmir. Without prejudice to the style of politics conducted by Masarat Alam, Hurriyat has to examine the charge-sheet framed against him by the police and the observation made by the Chief Judicial Magistrate Budgam while rejecting his bail.

The court has said that “the offence under section 121 RPC carries the punishment of death or life sentence and that section 497 (1) CrPC puts legal restraint on the Court for bailing out the accused (Alam).” The bail was rejected. Hurriyat has to consider that RPC sections 121(waging war against country), 124A (sedition), an offence punishable with life imprisonment or death slapped in the charge sheet are a serious matter. At the outset it has to be understood that Masarat Alam was raising Pakistani flags and raising pro Pakistan slogans in Srinagar, which is summer capital of the Government of Jammu and Kashmir, under caution of UN SC Resolutions. It is a disputed State. If the Chief Judicial Magistrate in a reference to “waging war against country” means India, the understanding does not have a merit. J & K High Court in the case of Hajra Vs State and others in 1983 has held that the hoisting of the national Pakistani flag in Kashmir was not unlawful. In addition to this Section 18 of IPC reads that, “India means the territory of India excluding the State of Jammu and Kashmir”.

Masarat Alam case has interesting legal and political connotations. The disputed nature of the State and the on-going political unrest, in one or the other manner, brings every Kashmiri Muslim within the range of Section 121 of RPC today or tomorrow. Therefore, Hurriyat has to rehabilitate its faith in the Constitution adopted on 31 July 1993. It was the jurisprudence of this Constitution that Kashmiris were able to open their first embassy in Delhi (Kashmir Awareness Bureau) in 1995, which was later closed down in February 2003. As long as Hurriyat continues to express its faith in UN Resolutions on Kashmir, J & K Government continues to suffer under the caution of UN Security Council Resolution of 30 March 1951. Section 121 of RPC has no merit and could be easily challenged at all levels.

Using the UN jurisprudence of Kashmir case, is the only and best way to oppose the coercion imposed through the use of Security Forces and State Police in the Valley in particular. Even Government of Pakistan has matured to admit that any deviation from UN mechanism on Kashmir is unhelpful and full of risks. Pakistan made its position clear at the sixty-ninth session of UN General Assembly in September 2014 and the foreign office of Pakistan has ever since rejuvenated its stand in unequivocally subscribing to UN Resolutions on Kashmir.

If Hurriyat wishes to survive, play a role, wishes to benefit from the political, moral and diplomatic support of Pakistan and the good will of Kashmiri people living in all the three administrations and Kashmiri diaspora, it has to repair its mistakes as soon as possible. The first most important step would be an unequivocal return to the Constitution adopted on 31 July 1993.