Geelani’s resignation and Kashmir situation
The nonagenarian will have to do lots of explaining
Senior separatist leader, Syed Ali Geelani’s quitting a forum (All Parties Hurriyat Conference) which was exclusively created and floated by him, has resulted into some buzz in the political and social circles of Kashmir. Debates, all over, are going on that whether the nonagenarian leader’s decision is some sort of ‘national tragedy’ or just a mere incident of no significance, whatsoever. These debates have been necessitated because all the sacrifices made in past three decades, the destructions that happened here, the incidents and the tragedies Kashmir faced, were all wedded to a political stance taken by Syed Ali Geelani.
One needs not to be a rocket scientist to understand that whatever Syed Ali Geelani, during these three decades, did was aimed at scratching the name of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah from the collective memory of Kashmiris. Abdullah, a national hero for Kashmiris for more than half a century, was both Sher-e-Kashmir (Lion of Kashmir) and Asia Ka Buland Sitara (the highest star of Asia) for Kashmiri populace.
Post 1990, Syed Ali Geelani launched a brand of politics to counter the love, respect and faith that Kashmiris had reposed in the person of Sheikh Abdullah. He countered his ideals of secularism, religious moderation, progressive political ideas and non-violent political strategy to achieve political goals.
To counter Abdullah’s popularity, Geelani raised the slogans of Nizam-e-Mustafa, clash between Kufr-u-Iman (faith and faithlessness), politics of merger with Pakistan and strategy of gun (Violence). By doing so, Geelani sowed the dream of “Azadi” in the eyes of Kashmiris and succeeded in being named as Rehbar-e-Inqilab (the leader of revolution) by most of his admirers. He tried to demolish and negate the past and ensured that the flag of his political ideology is raised all over.
Whatever he said, most of the people agreed to it and whatever he wanted, that happened. Mind, his political ideology was not hugged by the people because they really agreed with him but because there were some other reasons too which everyone in Kashmir knows.
Interesting aspect of his popularity was, without any doubt, his inability and incapacity of understanding the fine points of politics. He would never try to comprehend the political ground realities, geo-politics and other fine points of state craft but would exclusively bank his strategy on his “self conceived political belief” challenging India with his meager muscle and bone.
He would dare India to leave Kashmir, as if he was not an individual from (Now) Hyderpora in Srinagar but a state. He would reject any negotiation offer from Government of India. He would shut his door to the top leaders of Indian Union. Such acts won him some admirers who thought he was much greater a leader than Abdullah.
Geelani, having no understanding of real politics, missed a point. State is a State. When it decides something, individuals like Geelani, stand nowhere. Violence is bad, though Geelani always endorsed it, but those who have a scant understanding of politics know that for State’s violence is legitimate tool, only that they have to justify it.
August 05, 2019
Frustrated or disillusioned by the attitude of Kashmiri separatist leaders like Geelani, India decided to show a new face which it had not shown from 1990 till 2019. Constitutional guaranties to J&K people were withdrawn and politicians, even those who would speak about Art 370, Autonomy, Self Rule were imprisoned. And once it was done, Geelani’s politics hit a dead end and the revolution that Geelani was advocating, bereft of any political understanding, vanished in thin air.
Geelani’s politics cost Kashmiris a lot. His “Azadi for Islam” is visible nowhere. His politics reduced Kashmir to nothingness. His Pakistan love destroyed Kashmiris. Question is, now what should Kashmiris fight for.
On August, 05 2019, Geelani went into a silent mode. He didn’t utter a word. On June 30, 2020, he re-emerged and issued a statement saying his APHC is corrupt. PERIOD.
Courage and intellect have many facets. If a river is in flood and there are some who want to reach the opposing bank, one section of those would say ‘come what may, we will cross.’ They will jump into the waters and kill themselves and their poor follower. Though they would be remembered as courageous and bold, but their contribution to the people is a big ZERO. That is what Geelani did.
There are others, who would gauge and watch the waves. These are the real thinking people. They watch the river, monitor all weather forecasts and geographical relevance and don’t jump into troubled waters. Thus they save themselves and their people too. They may be described as cowards, but they are the real thinking minds.
Human psychology is very complex. Those who jump into rivers in flood may be regarded as heroes because generally people, in every society, love leaders who go against the tide. But actually those who decide not to commit the suicide are the real leaders.
Some people, like Geelani, love to be remembered as “hard-line leaders to counter Sheikh Abdullah.” They condemn the moderates, who have an eye on waves, weather and flow of (political) water and try to prove that they are the only answer to the troubles of Kashmiris. But they miss the point that by doing so they are actually missing the final goal.
Geelani needs to understand that his so called “hardline politics” got demolished when his APHC’s Pakistan chapter didn’t utter a word once he submitted his resignation. The wave, he wanted to conquer, drowned him mercilessly as no one, except newspapers, mentioned his resignation anywhere.
Whether we like Geelani or not, fact of the matter is that Geelani has tried “every trick in his kitty” to be seen the sole voice of Pakistan in Kashmir. For him Kashmir movement was a struggle to annex Kashmir with Pakistan. But after his resignation, this pro Pakistan voice is gone, gone for good or bad.
Politics of the region suggests that in India, Pakistan and Kashmir, the political actors will be busy to find some alternative to Geelani. There is every likelihood that Hurriyat leadership will shift to Rawalpindi (Pakistan) though we know that almost all decisions were made from there earlier too and also from New Delhi.
Whether one agrees or not, most of the mainstream political parties in Indian side of Kashmir are manufactured in New Delhi and the separatists in Pakistan. When Hurriyat Conference was decided to be launched, the decision was made in Islamabab. Though there were senior leaders like Syed Ali Geelani, A G Lone, Maulana Abbass Ansari, but the leadership was handed over to Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and all were forced to accept this Pak decision.
However, Geelani never acknowledged Mirwaiz’s leadership. His supporters in Pakistan, who were good in number, wanted him to be the sole leader. And once Hizbul Mujahidden emerged as a powerful armed group and A G Lone got assassinated, Geelani jumped to the occasion and floated his own APHC. And ensured that his grouping is referred to as APHC (G).
So, Geelani ensured a division within, what they call “freedom camp.” Now Kashmir had APHC (G) means Geelani and APHC (M) means Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. Geelani tried every trick to portray himself as a hardline political leader and used Jamaa’t Islami and Hizbul Mujahideen influence to the hilt. In the process, groups of stone pelters emerged on the scene and also of those over ground workers who would ensure to enforce Geelani’s strike programme and to denounce those who would dare to oppose it.
The then state of Jammu and Kashmir was ruled by PDP during those days. The party tried to exploit the situation to suit its political goals. Having an eye on the situation, New Delhi did the August 05, 2019 bifurcating J&K into two union territories.
And the play ends
There were no ripples. Post August 05, 2019, Geelani sealed his lips, Mirwaiz did the same, Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti did the same.
Geelani may be upset why he alone is being targeted for post-August 05 inaction. It is because he forced people, through all means, to accept him as leader of revolution (Rehbar-e-Inqilab) and therefore he has to answer to lots of questions and make lots of explaining. He made people die for Nizam-e-Mustafa and now he quits. He talked obnoxiously about demographic changes and now when domicile certificates are being issued, he resigns from APHC. Wasn’t it Geelani and his followers who would tell people of Kashmir that Azadi is “round the corner.” Where is that Azadi, Geelani has to answer.
Kashmir is facing terrible social, psychological and economical trauma. There still are some dream merchants, who had all along been dragging Kashmiris to the unachievable delusion and are now trying to sell China-India standoff in Ladakh as something that would help Kashmiris.
The people of Kashmir have to make a decision – once for all. They need a leadership, a new and energetic leadership, not the traditional mainstream or separatist. This new leadership has to be the one that has watched both mainstream and separatists failing people on all fronts. We have to change un-achievable ideologies and ideas and move ahead with pragmatism.
Those leaders who brought Kashmir to such a stage where its existence is questioned, need to be sidelined. The people who are witness to the events of post 1990 need to make a decision. No more delusions, no more illusions, the Kashmir society needs a new thought. The thought that defeats their sense of defeat post August 05, 2019.
-The author is Editor, Urdu Daily Uqab. The write-up was originally written in Urdu.