The resistance leaders fighting Indian rule in Indian-administered Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) appear unanimous in criticising the ‘Agenda of Alliance’ agreed upon between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for government formation, saying that all pro-India political forces operating in the disputed Himalyan region are “stooges of Indian military occupation” and that their statements on having a dialogue with Kashmiri leadership are only “political stunts”.
Kashmir’s resistance camp said that parties like the National Conference (NC) and PDP have no mandate to resolve Kashmir’s political dispute.
Mufti Mohammad Sayeed led PDP officially forged an alliance with the BJP to form government in Jammu & Kashmir after the J&K electorate threw up a fractured verdict on December 23 (the result day) last year.
After hectic deliberations for over two months the PDP and the BJP, two ideologically divergent parties, reached a consensus to stitch up a coalition for the next six years in Jammu & Kashmir.
In the 87-member Jammu & Kashmir Assembly the PDP registered victory in 28 assembly constituencies, most from the Muslim majority Kashmir Valley, while the right-wing nationalist BJP got 25 seats from the Hindu belts of Jammu Province.
The oath-taking ceremony for the next government’s chief minister and cabinet ministers is scheduled on March 1 in Jammu.
The election results brought to fore the deep regional and religious divide that exists between the Jammu Province and Kashmir Valley.
Kashmir’s most popular octogenarian separatist leader and Chairman of a faction of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) amalgam, Syed Ali Shah Geelani said that the strategies and methods of different pro-India political parties could be different in different times, but their “ultimate aim and design remains to strengthen India’s military control over Kashmir”.
Geelani was referring to Mufti Sayeed’s recent interview in which the PDP patron had admitted that the Hurriyat represents a viewpoint in Jammu & Kashmir and that there was no harm in having a dialogue with the Hurriyat leadership.
“There is a difference between having dialogue for buying time and a credible dialogue for finding resolution to the dispute,” Geelani said told Dawn via telephone from New Delhi.
When asked about the unprecedented participation of the people of J&K in the recent assembly elections, Geelani said that by nature human beings are weak and sometimes they do “fall for temptations like governance, development, jobs, etc.” The sentiment for Kashmir’s freedom, he added, was “alive and kicking” despite such “temptations” from time to time.
More than 70 per cent of voters participated in the 2014 Assembly Elections in Jammu & Kashmir despite passionate calls for boycott from the resistance camp. However, the Kashmiris voted in large numbers partly to keep the BJP out and with an apparent aim to de-link local governance from their larger political aspiration.
Interestingly, the Chief of pro-Independence Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) Yasin Malik, in his latest press conference in Srinagar made a candid admission that the “wisdom of the Indian state has defeated us (the Azadi camp)”.
“I agree that Indian wisdom defeated us through their strategy. The high voter turnout is a defeat to the Azadi camp. I accept the defeat. But I’m a freedom fighter. Kashmir will rise again,” Malik told journalists in the summer capital Srinagar, adding that, “if India fails in Kashmir, she will not get a second chance”.
Geelani’s view was that India benefits from the “money, muscle and military power” to conceal ground facts in the Kashmir Valley.
“Kashmir is the world’s highest military zone. We are living under occupation. All political parties who support this occupation are basically different faces of the same coin. More and more educated people are realising this reality and therefore raising their voices in favour of Kashmir’s freedom from India,” Geelani, the chief of Tehreek-i-Hurriyat, said.
He also alleged that fascist Hindutva forces like the BJP and RSS have been working for decades to impose their culture on the Muslim-majority region of Kashmir, but added that Kashmir was fighting this “cultural aggression” for the past 67 years and “will continue resisting the imposed culture”.
On the other hand, the moderate faction of Hurriyat Conference (led by head priest Umar Farooq) in its press statement expressed contentment over the resumption of dialogue and diplomatic relations between India and Pakistan. Farooq urged the Indo-Pak leadership to be open for meaningful dialogue to resolve the outstanding issues between them.
“India and Pakistan should avail the golden opportunity to resolve the Kashmir dispute knowing its historical realities and sensitivities involved,” the statement said.
Reacting sharply to Mufti Sayeed’s assertion that there was no harm in having a dialogue with the Hurriyat, the JKLF chief Malik said that the pro-India politicians in Kashmir are in a process to “manufacture consent through the media”.
“Their (pro-India parties) primary job is to integrate Kashmiris fully with India."
"In Mumbai, Mufti Sayeed makes statements to appease and address Narendra Modi’s constituency and in Kashmir he makes pro-Kashmir statements. This way, he is flirting with both the constituencies simultaneously,” Malik said.
He said that during Mufti’s rule from 2002 until 200, police stations in Kashmir were turned into “torture chambers”. “This is Mufti Sahib’s understanding of restoring human dignity,” he alleged.
The PDP claims credit for its “healing touch” policy during its rule from 2002 until 2008 and creating a “peaceful atmosphere” to give people a “sense of security”.
Many independent analysts see the PDP-BJP alliance a compromise between “soft-separatists from Kashmir and ultra-nationalists from India”.
Senior journalist and political analyst Riyaz Wani has an interesting take on the PDP-BJP alliance.
“Well, at least on paper it appears that the manner in which the deal has been struck it gives a clear advantage to the PDP. Mufti Sayeed is a smart operator and a clever politician," said Wani.
"However, it remains a gamble for the PDP because a lot depends on how this coalition will function on a day-to-day basis. Whatever wrongs the BJP may commit in the rest of India, the PDP will be made accountable for that in Jammu & Kashmir.”
Other Kashmiri leaders like Nayeem Khan, Chairman of pro-Freedom National Front, demanded international intervention in Kashmir to “pressurise India for Kashmir’s final settlement”.
Khan said that the Azadi camp is involved in a struggle about the political future and fate of 13 million people and therefore not interested in local administrative matters and governance.
Responding to Mufti Saeed’s remarks about the dialogue with the Hurriyat, he said that the pro-India forces in Kashmir were on a mission to “localise the Kashmir dispute”.
“See, we can’t have any dialogue with the 'enemies of peace' and 'collaborators of Indian occupation'."
“The resistance camp is only interested in a serious and credible dialogue which is time-bound and result-oriented. We are not interested in a photo shoot event. It is incumbent upon the world community to intervene in Kashmir and use good offices so that permanent resolution of Kashmir is made possible,” he told Dawn.
Malik concluded by saying that the resistance leaders were not babies who could be lured by camouflaged offers of dialogue to have a “photo shoot with India’s celebrity Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, in New Delhi”.
“Unlike stooges like Muftis and Abdullahs, we are the stake-holders.”