Did BJP leader, Narendera Midi’s representatives secretly meet with Kashmiri leaders or not, has become a major controversy. Sure we have our opinions on the controversy and acrimony the issue has generated in Kashmir. But in this case as in many such cases a more substantive and crucial message keeps getting lost in the morass of political noise. Leaving the allegations and counter allegations between the two Kashmiri camps aside, the more substantive message that gets ignored by the Indians and their appointees in Kashmir needs to be highlighted.
In India, as anywhere else in the world, politicians meet, collude and collaborate, confront and conceal all the time. That is the way it always has been and that is the way it always will be. Narendera Modi and Rahul Gandhee meet thousands of leaders to make and break deals. But, seldom do those meetings become scandalous, seldom do they become political hot potatoes, and seldom do they need to hurry up to cover their tracks. Their overt and covert meetings and dealings may engender criticism and controversy, but not stormy reaction to his alleged contacts with Kashmiri leaders. This controversy has poisoned the atmosphere based not the content of the meetings, but on allegation of mere contact between an Indian politician and a pro-freedom political entity. It should tell the world just how tenuous the relations between India and Kashmir are, and how despised any symbols of Indian occupation are.
It is not purely a matter of clash between S.A. Geelani and Umar Farooq. Even if the two leaders were to be replaced with others with pristine record of accomplishments, the sensitivity and emotiveness of the issue would not go away. It is neither Geelani Saheb nor Umar Saheb that is the nexus of the sentiment. They merely represent two competing approaches to undo the occupation. It is the pathological desire of the Indian leaders to prevail, no matter what the human cost, and a dogged desire of Kashmiri masses to rid their homeland of that pathological desire. It is this malcontent of the masses that fuels the engine of emotion and sacrifice. Both Geelani Saheb and Umar Saheb are responding to that innate, which some may call fatalistic national impulsion. Granted, each one may have differing view of how to get to the Promised Land, there, however, is no question about the burden they have to bear.
Commitment to the cause, internalization of the liberation ideology and the willingness to pay the price may be different in different leaders, but we may not doubt their sincerity to the basic idea of freedom. Call them ‘hard liners’ or call them ‘soft liners’, six decades of resistance led by good as well bad leaders , have not eliminated the desire and the will of the people to press ahead with their demands of liberation . Leaders, big and small, regional or universal have to deal with this reality. They are ultimately accountable to the Kashmiri public. That is a huge responsibility every Kashmiri leader has to bear.
Whether or not Mr. Modi’s emissaries really established any liaison with him, the mere fact that the Mirwaiz felt compelled to refute the allegation so publicly and so vigorously, speaks volumes about the toxic nature of Indo-Kashmir relations. It tells pro-freedom leaders to treat any secret liaison with Indian leaders like leprosy. It says less about the Kashmiri leaders ‘stature than the degree of mistrust in Indian leaders of all parties, not just those of Mr. Modi’s ilk.
As for the Kashmiri politicians with the dubious distinction of being Indian appointees, they belong to a different genre- a genre lacking higher human values, values of fidelity, compassion and integrity in dealing with the nation. People put nothing beneath them and have gotten used to their deceitful dealings through their successive generations. If they ever meant well for the nation, they have not shown any sympathy or empathy with the nation even as the nation suffered and agonized under Indian tyranny. That is an important distinction to make. Their track record is well known and they carry little weight in the public opinion.