Separatist leaders look for consensus on the way forward
With the shutdown set to complete 100 days on Sunday, the separatist camp is struggling for ideas on the future strategy and most of the groups and other stakeholders are yet to respond to the letter shot to them by Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani seeking suggestions as to how to go ahead.
Geelani had written letters to Hurriyat (M), JKLF, Dukhtaran-e-Millat and a few civil society groups and sought ideas and suggestions on the ways and means to be adopted by the separatist leadership for carrying forward the ongoing struggle.
The Hurriyat (G) chairman had sought suggestions as to how to continue the ongoing agitation, which was triggered by the killing of 21-year-old Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8.
At least 91 people have been killed in the ongoing unrest. Over 12,000 civilians have been injured in the forces firing in last over three months.
Kashmir has been witnessing curfew, restrictions and shutdown since July 9. The shutdown will complete 100 days on Sunday.
Sources in Hurriyat (M) told Kashmir Post that the amalgam held a meeting in the office of one of its constituents Muslim Conference (MC) on October 8 to discuss Geelani’s letter.
The meeting was presided over by MC president and former Hurriyat chairman, Prof Abdul Gani Bhat.
Sources said during the meeting, it was decided that the letter, which was also addressed to Mirwaiz, would not be responded to immediately. “The letter has been sent to the incarcerated leader of the conglomerate, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq for ‘necessary action’.”
“Everybody in the meeting was aghast over seeking of suggestions from them after three months,” a Hurriyat (M) member said.
According to him, there was consensus in the meeting that it was Mirwaiz, who had forged unity with Syed Ali Geelani and Muhammad Yasin Malik and the leaders were issuing the joint statements without consulting them. “So, he (Mirwaiz) is the best person to respond to Geelani’s letter.”
There was nobody from JKLF to answer whether the party has responded to Geelani’s letter or not.
The High Court Bar Association had also not responded to Geelani’s letter till Friday.
Sources in Bar said the lawyers’ body was discussing ways and means regarding the future course of action.
Bar General Secretary, Bashir Sadiq told Kashmir Post that its executive body would take a decision soon.
Civil society member, Zarif Ahmad Zarif told Kashmir Post that every member has already submitted suggestions sought by Geelani.
He, however, refused to share any details.
The women’s separatist group Dukhtaran-e-Millat (DeM) has also responded to Geelani’s letter.
“I cannot share the suggestions given by us with media,” said Nahida Nasreen, DeM General Secretary.
A senior separatist activist, who is evading arrest, told Kashmir Post that because of the negative attitude of many, the recent protest calendar issued by the leadership did not announce any full day relaxation in shutdown.
The separatists have extended the strike upto October 20 but announced daily relaxation from 5 pm to 7 am barring Friday.
None of the traders’ bodies or separatist groups has opposed the protest programs issued by the united separatist leadership so far.
But a senior separatist activist said differences have started surfacing only as “whispers.”
He, however, said most of the written responses received by Geelani so far supported continuation of “protest resistance” in whatever form joint leadership deems suitable.
“Geelani saheb had sought suggestions from all stakeholders but unfortunately some are trying to save their skin,” he said.
Another separatist activist said some separatist leaders and parties have suggested an all party meeting to discuss the issue while others have demanded formation of a committee, which will meet different stakeholders and submit a report how to go ahead
“The responses, however, did not outrightly oppose the ongoing shutdown,” he said.
Geelani along with Mirwaiz and Malik are spearheading the over three month long agitation in the Valley.
The separatist leadership is issuing weekly “protest calendars” since July 9.
Authorities have launched crackdown against separatists and most of the top and second rung separatist leadership has been detained.
While Geelani is under house arrest, other leaders including Mirwaiz, Yasin Malik, Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai, Shabir Ahmad Shah, Masarat Alam, Asiya Andrabi, Altaf Ahmad Shah, Pir Saifullah, Ayaz Abkar and Zaffar Akbar Bhat have been arrested and lodged in different jails and prisons.
“How can separatist leaders leading the current uprising reach to a conclusion when all of them have been put behind bars,” a senior lawyer of Bar Association said.
He said it seems the government is itself interested in continuous shutdown and is not allowing the separatists to sit together and chalk out future strategy.