Hurriyat hardline leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani answered a range of questions on the forthcoming elections, his conditions for a dialogue with New Delhi, and the lack of unity amongst the separatists in an interview with The Citizen.Excerpts:
Q: General elections are going to held this year. How do you view it?
SAS Geelani: Elections are irrelevant to Kashmir and the people of Kashmir, until India recognises the disputed nature of Kashmir. Our vote gets exploited as India took it as a support to democracy which actually it is not. So once again the Hurriyat Conference(G) appeals to the people of Kashmir to enforce the poll boycott.
This year witnessed a huge number Kashmiri youngsters joining politics, have they lost faith in freedom struggle?
There are ups and downs, people of Kashmir should understand what India is doing with us. There have been grave human rights violations by Indian forces and they have been let off with honors. Kashmir is the dark tag in the face of Indian democracy. It is a hoax. So Kashmir youngsters should understand where they are heading and whom they are supporting.
Aam Aadmi party has started its inning in Kashmir, how do you react to it?
AAP is just another Indian political party for us. Both Modi and Kejriwal are two faces of same coin. Let they come clear on the Kashmir issue.
Aam Aadmi Party maintained that they will be focussing on basic human needs in Kashmir and won’t interfere in the Kashmir issue.
It won’t help, AAP has to come clean on Kashmir and should take a stand on the Kashmir issue. This is just an election gimmick. They can’t make space in Kashmir until they clear the doubts. Kejriwal should come forward and decode their stand on Kashmir. I know it is difficult for them as any political party who supports the Kashmir cause is being called Anti-National.
Recently Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde maintained in Parliament that secret talks are going on with the Hurriyat Mirwaiz group. Have they approached you too?
No, we are not the part of secret talks. Let me make it clear today, we are not against the dialogue, but it should be result oriented and concentrate to resolve the Kashmir. For this it is mandatory for India to accept Kashmir as a disputed territory. The dialogue should involve all the parties- India, Pakistan and the genuine leadership of Kashmir. It should take into consideration the 18 resolutions drafted by United Nations who declared Kashmir as disputed territory after India took the case there in 1948. Now they are backtracking and denying the hard realities. India should respect its promises and commitments and should respect the sacrifices of the people of Kashmir. Whosoever is part of the dialogue should understand India’s stand and make it clear to the people of Kashmir. Dialogue should never be behind the curtain. It should be open and decisive.
What is your roadmap to solve Kashmir?
First it is mandatory for India to withdraw the bulk of its forces, they can keep some forces on the ground for administrative forces. The United Nations should take the whole state and organise the plebiscite. Then people will decide whether they went to merge with India or Pakistan or want to be independent. We are bound to follow that decision.
You and other Hurriyat leaders are accused of never highlighting the human rights violations in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.?
We are not silent about what is happening in Azad Kashmir and Pakistan. We are strongly condemning those violations. We have openly come out against Pakistan on these violations in Azad Kashmir.
Is there any merger on the cards between the Hurriyat leaders in Kashmir?
There is a difference in policies and their policies are not consistent. See the recent development, the secret talks between India and the other Hurriyat. It is against the policy and the constitution of APHC. So for unity, there should be no policy difference, but this is not so and so there is no question of unity.
You are talking about Kashmir only, what about Jammu and Ladakh?
We are being misunderstood always, by Kashmir I mean Jammu and Kashmir. In 2006, I had many interactions in Jammu met thousands of people over there. In 2007 when I repeated the same, I was put under house arrest in Jammu for 20 days, I was not allowed to meet the people and it has been seven years now since I am under house arrest. Even many of my Hindu friends who invited me for wedding functions called me later not to come fearing reprisal by fundamentalists.
For how long will all this go on, how many more generations will have to pay the price if India and Pakistan remain rigid?
See there is no time frame for the freedom struggle, it can be tomorrow or it can take hundreds of years. But yes there are two options either to surrender or carry on. I will go with the carry on option. We are here to win and not to loose.
( First published in The Citizen http://thecitizen.in/city/geelani-condemns-human-rights-violations-in-pok/ )