Niloofar Qureshi

Ideological Obligations versus Individual Rights

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Having been an ex-MLA, Hurriyat (G) General Secretary Ghulam Nabi Sumji is well within his rights to ask the state administration to revise his pension and release arrears due to him. However by saying “We are at war with India against its military presence here. But pension and arrears are my right and why should I leave it,” Sumji has created confusion by pitching ideological and moral values against materialistic lucre. And even though he has proclaimed being “at war with India,” Sumji still has no hesitation in approaching those whom he himself considers his ‘enemy’ with a prayer for revising his pension.

By saying that “my ideology and political affiliation cannot bar me from seeking my rights” Sumji has tried to give this issue the appearance of a routine demand being made for release of legitimate entitlements. However, his plea would definitely remind the world that Sumji too had once sworn allegiance to the constitution of India and was part of the political establishment that New Delhi used to run its writ in Kashmir! Thus, while the Hurriyat (G) General Secretary may claim his MLA pension as a matter of right, but to some this could be seen as ‘blood money’ Sumiji was receiving for being part of the dummy government in the state that oppressed the people of Kashmir at the behest of the center!

One would have expected that a person of Sumji’s standing would have the moral courage to defend his decision and not fire the pension request gun from the shoulders deceased Hurriyat leader Abdul Gani Lone’s wife and one more “senior Hurriyat leader” who are drawing pension. And this also shows how selective some of our leaders are when it comes to defending their questionable actions. While Sumji did drop names of some personalities who had links with the Hurriyat and were drawing government pension, what he did not mention was that despite being a former MLA and entitled to a pension, Geelani sahib doesn’t draw the same as a matter of principles. Was this just an inadvertent oversight or a deliberate omission is for the reader to decide.

As per media reports Sumiji is one of the richest Hurriyat leaders but despite this rather than following the example of his leader and take high moral ground by refusing to accept pension from those who he openly accuses of brutalising Kashmiris, Sumji considers his personal rights to be more important than his “ideological and political affiliation.” And by saying that MLA pension and arrears are his right and flatly refusing to forego it (like Geelani sahib has done), Sumiji has exposed how some separatist leaders ask the common Kashmiri to make sacrifices while they themselves have no reservations in doing everything under the sun in order to better their own lot.

Duplicity is what hurts the common Kashmiri most and in a recent video Srinagar resident Sheikh Irfan can be seen bringing up this issue in his emotional outburst against the separatist conglomerate during the condolence meeting of Qaisar Amin Bhat who was run over by a CRPF vehicle. And what’s important is that instead of rejecting Irfan’s allegations, Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farook has instead said that the people “have every right to question their leadership and vent their emotions.” This clearly indicates that the joint resistance leadership (JRL) is well aware that while they do enjoy immense popularity, some of their actions and decisions that give an impression of duplicitous behaviour don’t go down very well with the masses. And Sumji asking the government to revise his pension is one such thing that many in Kashmir are not likely to accept!

Tailpiece: Two years ago Sumji and Tehreek-e-Insaaf chairman GA Gulzar issued a joint statement asking residents of Anantnag to boycott the forthcoming by-polls. This joint statement read, “Mainstream political parties have always exploited the sentiments of the people for the sake of power and are responsible for strengthening New Delhi’s control over JK. We urge people to stay away from the polls to send a clear message to such parties that they cannot hoodwink the Kashmiris anymore.”

And today when he says that “government agencies want to derail GoI’s talk offer by raking up my pension issue” all one can do is to admire Sumji for retaining his ability to exploit public sentiments and hoodwink Kashmiris even three decades after quitting mainstream politics!

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