After Jamaat-e-Islami, is Hurriyat staring at a ban under anti-terror law?
Post Pulwama, the Modi government wants to send out a message that it can’t be business as usual in Kashmir.
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The government, it seems, is going all out to ensure the ongoing cycle of violence perpetuated by forces from across the border in Kashmir is served a body blow in the wake of the Pulwama terror attack that saw 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawans killed.
After Pulwama: The government banned the Jamaat-e-Islami under the UAPA on March 1. Tough measures are needed. (Source: Reuters)
A day after the government banned the Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), reports emerged that the ban could extend to separatist outfit Hurriyat Conference very soon. Over a fortnight ago, the government had stripped 12 separatist leaders of the security cover they enjoy. Remember, even as the top leadership has enjoyed security, it has also reportedly actively pushed youths in the Valley towards stone-pelting.
In a 2018 report, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) had claimed that stone pelting was a cleverly drafted conspiracy of Hurriyat leaders, including reportedly Syed Ali Shah Geelani — as well as terrorists like Hafiz Saeed. The NIA chargesheet against Hurriyat leaders said, “Stone pelting in Kashmir has become a full-fledged industry wherein the cadres of Hurriyat and its constituent groups have organised themselves at district, tehsil, wards and mohalla level, and leaders at appropriate stages have formed an armed wing represented by masked stone-pelters, consisting mainly of youth of Kashmir Valley.”
The NIA, which is probing the role of separatists in fanning Kashmir's unrest, has also said that the top Hurriyat leadership has been receiving funds from Pakistan, which were then making their way to stone-pelters and militants.
Hurriyat’s commitment to peace in Kashmir has been such that it threatened that the NIA chargesheet could prove to be an impediment to the dialogue process.
According to highly-placed sources, the Centre is determined to crack down on Hurriyat this time — security and intelligence top brass are of the view that banning the Hurriyat will help prevent the outfit and its leaders from enjoying a free run across Kashmir, motivating youths for violence.
The Hurriyat leaders have — for far too long — been a pampered lot in Kashmir.
Every time the cycle of violence has spiralled out of control, and attempts have been made to reach out for a dialogue, the Hurriyat leaders have made it known that the onus of establishing peace in Kashmir lies apparently only with the Centre.
In November 2017, when Dineshwar Sharma was sent as an interlocutor to Kashmir, the Hurriyat leadership decided to shut its doors to Sharma. This, when Sharma had expressed his readiness to talk to anyone “willing to talk to him” — with the separatists being no exception.
While living lives of prosperity and security themselves, Hurriyat laders have done little for peace in Kashmir. (Source: PTI)
In December the same year, when Muslim Conference leader Abdul Ghani Bhat reportedly quietly met Dineshwar Sharma, the Muslim Conference expelled him.
Bhat, who led the moderate faction of the Hurriyat Conference for years, has been a vocal voice against violence — and was seen to be amenable to dialogue with the government, provided credible steps were taken to win the confidence of the people.
On the contrary, the Hurriyat leadership has always welcomed representatives from Pakistan with open arms — the Hurriyat leaders have also visited Pakistan on several occasions ‘for talks’.
A delegation of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) in September 2016 visited Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK), to meet former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, ahead of a session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). If the Hurriyat leadership has faith only in the Pakistani government, it is only logical that their outfit stands banned in India.
The Hurriyat leadership has so far refrained from openly telling the youths of Kashmir to stay away guns and stones.
The Hurriyat hypocrisy on 'peace' was in fact best exposed by a Kashmiri youth in 2018, when some leaders from the group visited the house of Qaiser Ahmad Bhat, who was run over by a CRPF vehicle that had come under violent stone-pelting on June 1, 2018, in Nowhatta.
In Qaiser’s house, a seemingly angry young man, Sheikh Irfan, threw a slew of awkward questions at the Hurriyat representatives one after another.
“Who is a real role model for the Kashmiri youth — Shabir Shah’s CBSE topper daughter or others?” Irfan asked the Hurriyat leadership that had to listen quietly.
The video went viral — exposing how the Hurriyat leaders were pushing ordinary Kashmiris towards guns, while their own children were sent to study abroad and build fine careers.
The government now wants to send out a message that it can’t be business as usual in Kashmir.
Part of the message that was meant for Pakistan has been sent through the Indian Air Force air-strikes.
But those stoking violence in Kashmir also need to be told that the Valley and its inhabitants need peace. If strong measures are required for this message to go through, so be it.