Hurriyat leaders were in for a rude shock when they 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 in Nowhatta.
Twenty-one-year-old Qaiser was admitted to the Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) in Srinagar, where he succumbed to his injuries the next day.
Qaiser Ahmad Bhat was run over by a CRPF vehicle that had come under violent stone-pelting on June 1.
Back in Qaiser's house, a seemingly angry young man, Sheikh Irfan, threw a slew of awkward questions at the Hurriyat representatives, one after another.
Why didn’t you come to Qaiser’s funeral?
Why was his body kept on display in Srinagar for so long?
Who is a real role model for the Kashmiri youth— Shabir Shah’s CBSE topper daughter or others?
The last question was related to Sama Shabir, the daughter of Kashmiri separatist leader Shabir Ahmad Shah, who topped the Class 12 board exams in J&K. A student of Delhi Public School in Srinagar, she scored 489 out of 500.
Lauding Sama's efforts, Hurriyat hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani earlier said she was "a role model for the young generation".
A video of Irfan's emotional outburst has gone viral since then. While some were quick to go back to the debate over Hurriyat's relevance, others found it difficult to contain their emotions.
In the context of the long-drawn Kashmir conflict, Hurriyat has always been seen as representing the separatist sentiment on the ground. However, questions about its ideological and political stagnation keep haunting the political front from time to time. For a common Kashmiri who has been facing the brunt of the conflict on a daily basis, it is natural to have questions and complaints.
However, later while tactfully explaining his position, Irfan, called the Hurriyat his family. He said he was complaining to them "as a family". Even Hurriyat (M) chief Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, while commenting on Irfan's outburst, accepted that youngsters like him have every right to question their "leadership and vent their emotions".
Behind the mask: Syed Ali Shah Geelani. [Credit: Reuters photo]
The Hurriyat Conference came into existence in early 1990s as a conglomerate of many individual groups to present a united political front for the cause of secession of Jammu and Kashmir. However over the years, the Hurriyat has seen several cracks within the separatist leadership. While Syed Ali Shah Geelani announced its own hardline faction and continues to remain its head, the rest of the Hurriyat comes under the Mirwaiz Umar Farooq faction.
The division has had its impact on the minds of people who believed in the idea of Hurriyat. Despite everything even today most people on the ground feel this is the only platform which conveys their message. Many term this as the failure of other political fronts, particularly the mainstream parties. Truth be told, the lack of any other alternative eventually means the Hurriyat and other such groups becoming the voice of the people.
Even though the Hurriyat still enjoys considerable support, the anxiety and frustration among the people cannot be dismissed. This is perhaps why the separatist camp has of late decided to work towards internal unity, with Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar farooq and JKLF’s Yasin Malik calling themselves as the "Joint Resistance Leadership".