Niloofar Qureshi

‘Tit-for-Tat’ Policies can ‘Kill’ Ideological Struggles

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At a time when both Islamabad and Hurriyat are doing their best to convince the world that the ongoing militancy in Kashmir is a “legitimate struggle for the internationally acknowledged right to self-determination” and thus equating it with terrorism is wrong," reports of militants kidnapping a dozen family members of policemen isn’t good news. And HizbulMujahideen (HM) commanderRiyazNaikoo's attempt to justify these abductions by saying “Police has compelled us to follow the course of an eye for an eye and an ear for an ear policy’ will not find any takers within the international community. The fact of the matter is that whether we accept it or not, but these abductions have definitely tarnished the HM’s image.

We have been defending ‘armed struggle’ by telling the international community that our boys have been forced to pick up the gun in response to “state terrorism” being perpetuated by New Delhi in Kashmir. Our ‘freedom fighters’ may claim that their families are unnecessarily being victimised and thus they have been “compelled” to adopt a tit-for tat policy by abducting family members of policemen. However, no country or organisation will approve abduction innocent civilians to settle scores with the police and thus abductions by militants will undoubtedly be viewed as an act of terrorism by the international community. This is because no matter how acute the provocation may be, but nothing can ever justify such an act and being “compelled” by circumstances is no excuse. Rememer, two wrongs can never ever make a right!

It’s not intended to discuss the merits and demerits of the ‘armed struggle’ here. However, since our leaders have officially accepted that the gun has a definite “role” in the ‘self determination’ movement, what militants say and do cannot be dismissed as something that is irrelevant. The separatist conglomerate may not have any control over militant activities, but since the Hurriyat has accepted ‘freedom fighters’ as stakeholders in the ‘self determination’ process, our leaders are morally responsible for whatever  the militants do. And so, while the joint resistance leadership (JRL) may have a point in terming the arrest of family members of militants “pure revenge,” but how will it convince the international community that the abduction of family members of policemen isn’t the same?

It’s not that the Hurriyat leadership is unaware of how militancy if not kept under control can damage the Kashmir cause. In his autobiography ‘WularkeKinaray’, the Hurriyat (G) chairman has made a very pertinent observation on the ethical issue regarding militancy by saying that “When (the) gun lost control, militants lost the moral standing.” In an interview given to Human Rights Watch in 2004, Mirwaiz Umar Farook accepted that “The gun has played a very important role in the movement.” However, he clarified that “militancy has to play a more supportive role than the dominant role” and when correlated with his earlier remark about militancy achieving nothing but only creating “more graveyards” is a grim but very candid comment on the futility of violence. And by giving up the gun and eschewing violence, JKLF chairman Yasin Malik has endorsed the universally accepted fact that militancy can never achieve an ideological objective.

Yet, it’s really surprising that the Hurriyat leadership has still allowed militants to do as they please and maintained a stoic silence even as those they present as victims of state oppression sparked off a spate of abductions and killing of army soldiers, policemen and civilians suspected to be informers by militants. And the sad part is that both Geelani sahib and the Mirwaiz have acknowledged that they are no longer in the captain’s seat. While the former admitted during the 2016 summer unrest that “We cannot say we are in absolute control of the situation,” the latter recently accepted that “There is disconnect between the people and the Hurriyat. We are not able to control the youth who are at the forefront of this situation.” Thus, by exhibiting their complete helplessness the Hurriyat leadership has itself allowed militancy to emerge as the dominant player in the Kashmir struggle.

As long as militant groups continue calling the shots in Kashmir any talk of resolving the ‘K’ issue in accordance with UN resolutions is meaningless. To further complicate matters, militant groups have flatly rejected any ceasefire offer and instead of persuading them to give dialogue a chance, the Hurriyat is fully supporting them. On the other hand, New Delhi insists that Indo-Pak dialogue can only take place when militant violence ends in Kashmir. Though Islamabad has been complaining to the UN and international community that New Delhi keeps “coming up with frivolous pretexts” to avoid dialogue, but no one seems to support Islamabad’s point of view and thus India continues to maintain this stand. So, despite Islamabad sending out encouraging signals regarding Indo-Pak dialogue the scope of any talks on the Kashmir issue remains extremely remote.

Tailpiece: The first ever report on ‘The Situation of Human Rights in Kashmir’ recently released by the Office of the UN high Commissioner for Human Rights notes that “Between January 2016 and April 2018, civil society organisations have accused members of armed groups of numerous attacks against civilians, off-duty police personnel and army personnel on leave, including the killing of 16 to 20 civilians. Some of the alleged attacks include the killing of activists of mainstream political parties and threats against their leaders.” This observation shouldn’t come as a surprise as this is exactly what Geelani sahib warned us about in April last year when he said “Secret killings will lead us to chaos. Killing merely for political affiliations or for one’s political ideology is against the teachings of Islam.”

So, it’s time we listened to our leaders!

The writer is a Delhi based columnist and can be mailed at niloofar.qureshi@yahoo.com

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