Driven by the desire of reunifying Hurriyat Conefrence and have a domineering position of ‘sincere’ and ‘active’ leaders in the decision making apparatus, the Freedom Party Supremo Shabir Ahmad Shah discussed with me a couple of years ago that for achieving that goal he joined Mirwaiz Umer-led Hurriyat faction in January 2008. That he said he did to reassert his belief that ‘nothing but freedom matters to him’. He made his declaration at the martyr’s ground Srinagar. Shah naively thought his entrance will clear all the impediments and pave way for re-union. He said at the Mazar-e- Shuhda: ‘Geelani Sahab need not put conditions. Now the Constitution of Hurriyat (enacted in1993) stands restored. Geelani Sahab exactly wanted this. Now there is no scope for harping on pre-53 or self-rule, nor for any indirect participation for elections. Now no talks will be held under the ambit of Indian constitution. The battle is over, so Geelani Sahab should join us (Kashmir Uzma, 15 January 2008).
Conglomerate head Umar Farooq hailed the Shah’s joining with ‘welcome home’ hospitality. Buoyed by Shah’s stepping in the grouping, the Hurriyat (M) leader asked Jamat and Liberation Front to follow suit. The appeal was more aimed to isolate Geelani than to streamline the umbrella grouping of leaders of conflicting ambitions and consolidate his grip on the political landscape of Kashmir.
Soon Shabir Shah began to feel the thorns of restlessness. At each and every step he realized that far from carrying his unification agenda, the Hurriyat (M) is leveraging its conglomerate weight to break in submission any dissenting voice. He and other leaders like Nayeem Khan tried their best to restructure the Hurriyat (M) and make it strong at grassroots level. They wanted to democratize the Hurriyat, make it broad-based and ensure more participation of the constituent units at the decision making level.
In this restructuring endeavor a faction of fatigued and inert leaders in executive council sniffed the end of their political career and privileges and they never let Mirwaiz to walk off the trap they ensnared him in, perhaps the greatest blunder of this young leader from whom we expected much to deliver. As the demand leading the Hurriyat (M) in synch with the aspirations of people grew louder, the Mirwaiz sailed with the tide of ‘change’ advocated by his close associates .
As the days rolled on (Hurriyat M) virtually drifted along two diametrically opposite directions. The ‘home’ become threateningly inhospitable for Shah so much that he had to survive a bid on his life last year. The assailants were point marked with known faces.
Professor Gani’s unwarranted statement, where he declared UN security Council resolutions ‘redundant’ and ‘impracticable’, deepened the fissures within the amalgam to an unbridgeable hiatus. First he endorsed tacit recognition to the shocking comment but as deluge of criticism from media and the more vocal group of his Hurriyat called for disciplinary action against the Professor, Mirwaiz did practically nothing. That forced the dissenting leaders to boycott Hurriyat meetings and safeguard their pro-resistance constituency. The letter to the head of Azad Kashmir chapter of Hurriyat (M) asking him not to entertain the representatives of the dissenting group proved a last straw for the camel, heralding a second split of the once unified resistance platform.
The split does not come a surprise (at least to me), rather taking so much time in parting ways was a surprise. There was no bonhomie left once Hurriyat (M) managed to get Shah and others to its fold. Mirwaiz found his position more secure in the company of those who suffered heavily in trust deficit for their doubtful credentials. That positioning of the leaders gave a free-leeway to his comrades who felt emboldened to play with the Hurriyat constitution and aspirations of the people. The supine breed of defeatist mentality tried to erase Kashmir dispute of its international status and arrest the tempo of resistance. Whatever they did, whatever they said, seemed a gyration already fixed to please the masters.
At a time when many people here were pleading for Hurriyat (G) and Hurriyat (M) to forge unity and lead from the front, the split to many is not a good news. But to me it is better to pull out the moment you feel suffocated and plagued. Emancipated minds won’t reconcile corrosion of minds and soul for ever. At one time or the other they have to surrender to the call of conscience. So if, as it seems, Shah, Nayeem, Azam and Naqash were lead by their conscience to float what they call a ‘Real Hurriyat’ so as to serve the cause in a re-energized better way, there is nothing to feel so sad and worried at yet another split. Rather the development might serve a harbinger for the new faction to join hands with those they see their ideological moorings strike same resonance. The minimum, one can expect now from Hurriyat ( R ) is to get aligned with Hurriyat (G) for developing a strategy for leading resistance struggle from a common platform, even though its conglomerate identity remains intact.