Plebiscite

Geelani is playing ‘fraud’ with Kashmiri youth

By J N Raina

January 2011

There is no dearth of fusspots in Kashmir. Wrinkled with age, Syed Ali Geelani, leading a hard-line faction of the Hurriyat Conference, has been treating India as a banana republic.

In an attempt to tyrannize the security forces and to befool people, Geelani continues to harp on the ‘right of self-determination’ for the people of Kashmir. The slogan is outdated. Regretfully, pliable Indian leadership has been just listening to his diatribe with rapt attention.

While Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been unveiling one fresh initiative after another to address ‘unrest’ in Kashmir, our Home Minister P Chidambaram has suggested that  ‘current unrest’ is ‘spontaneous’. Indians are flabbergasted about these overtures, coming from the highest echelons of the administration.  This is in spite of the fact that hawkish Geelani is claiming to be a ‘force’ behind the prevailing ‘unrest’. The over three-month-long violent agitation has claimed more than 100 lives so far. Mostly teenaged youth have been sacrificed. The Centre just winks at these gruesome incidents, which have brought economic ruin to the valley people. Stone-throwing youth have lost their career. Geelani has been provoking them to hold stone-throwing demonstrations, resulting in retaliation by the security forces and subsequent killings. Geelani is playing fraud with Kashmiri youth.

Multitudinous of oceans will not wash off his blood-stained hands. He is solely responsible for the current unrest—thanks to his self-confession.  Protest rallies are held in response to his call. Let there be no misunderstanding, he has himself staked claim to the ‘leadership of the current agitation’. The nation was aghast to hear a live conversation on a TV channel between two Hurriyat activists recently. They were planning how to get people killed in street violence. One of them told the interrogators that the Hurriyat has been funding and orchestrating stone-throwing. They were heard discussing on phone that ‘at least 15 people should get ‘martyred’ in a procession that day. It is mind-boggling.

Speaking the language of a ‘bluff master’, the extremist leader in a recent interview has directed India to withdraw army from Jammu and Kashmir, agree to a plebiscite and allow peace to return in the ‘besieged’ valley.

“If India agrees, then we will get Pakistan to withdraw its security forces from Azad Kashmir (PoK), Gilgit and Baltistan. The referendum should be for every citizen of the united Jammu and Kashmir. This is the basic demand of the people ……… We will accept whatever the majority decides”, he has said.

Geelani should know that according to the 1948 Security Council resolution on Kashmir, Pakistan is an ‘aggressor’. It was asked to withdraw its invading forces (tribal raiders) from the occupied part of Jammu and Kashmir, before referendum could be held. Pakistan did not comply. It has been illegally occupying PoK. The entire undivided state, including Gilgit and Baltistan, is legally and constitutionally part of India. Geelani should understand that enough of water has flowed down the Jhelum since then. The fundamentalist Muslims have changed the state’s unique demographic character. Kashmiri Hindus, who constituted over 15 per cent of the state’s population in 1947, have been driven out. Kashmiri Muslim youth have vague impression about Hindu Pandit community. They are being told tales that once upon a time Kashmiri ‘batas’ (Pandits) used to live in the valley. It is disgusting. Secularism does not mean recognizing the interests of Muslims alone. Over 50 per cent of the state’s population live outside the beleaguered valley.

Be as it may; one fails to understand what kind of autonomy Manmohan Singh has to offer. Jammu and Kashmir already enjoys autonomy under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, guaranteeing special status to the state. It has a separate flag and a separate constitution. Even otherwise, India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had once remarked in Parliament: “Article 370 is transitional, in other words, a temporary provision…..it is not a permanent part of the constitution. It is part so long as it remains.”

Even talk of greater autonomy is irksome to Geelani and others of his ilk. Barring the ruling National Conference, all political outfits and separatists have rejected the Prime Minister’s proposal to ‘discuss autonomy’ within the Indian Constitution. Geelani has rejected peace offer and employment package, saying Kashmiri youth are not on the streets for jobs, but are fighting for their rights.

Plebiscite is a dead issue. Even a former Secretary General of the UN has made it clear that plebiscite is outdated. Then Kashmir leader Sheikh Abdullah and his close associate Mirza Afzal Baig had termed plebiscite as obsolete, after the 1971 war, leading to the creation of Bangladesh. The “Plebiscite Front” was dissolved following the historic accord between the Sheikh and then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in early 1975. Geelani had no locus standi. His personality would dwarf under the towering presence of Sheikh Abdullah.

There has been a paradigm change in the situation. Even if Pakistan agrees to withdraw its forces from PoK, which is a dim reality, plebiscite cannot be held. Geelani, the flag man of Pakistan, is misleading and provoking innocent youth. They are being drugged at the behest of ISI to indulge in stone-throwing. The situation which obtained in 1947-48 cannot be retrieved. Those harbouring such wishful ideas are living in a fool’s paradise.

If Kashmir is allowed to secede, it will lead to the disintegration of not only India, but Pakistan as well, making room for neo-colonial powers to control the subcontinent. Pakistan is already on the US radar. The U S forces are prying in that country. There is no dearth of elements, either in India or Pakistan, who will not hesitate from paving way for imperialism.

Geelani admits ‘independence’ is no solution. He was discarded by former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf for being too rigid. Geelani is for Kashmir’s total merger with Pakistan. He is even against ‘soft borders’. “No internal autonomy. Not even Musharraf’s four-point formula will work”, he says.

The mandarins in New Delhi should understand that Pakistan has embarked upon a new phase of action plan to grab Kashmir. This is besides continuing infiltration from LoC. The Centre lacks strategy to deal with the grave situation created by Pakistan through its surrogates in the valley. The Centre has to change its tactics and restore peace. If the prevailing turmoil continues, there can be repercussions in other regions of Jammu and Ladakh.  According to Ajit Doval, a former Director of the IB,“ Such a wide spread, well coordinated, determined action with precision, timing and uniform action cannot be spontaneous. It is part of Pakistan’s covert and subversive offensive.”

Pakistan has failed to achieve its desired goal of annexing Kashmir by engineering proxy war. It lies buried under the debris of terrorism. Geelani and PoK-based Hizbul Mujahideen chief, Syed Salahuddin are being roped in by Pakistan to create mayhem in Kashmir. The latter has been directing Kashmiri youth to throng streets in thousand as ‘azadi is round the corner’. Pakistan should remember that it is on a wrong path. Geelani does not represent the entire mass of people. People like him were exiled by Sheikh Abdullah. Kashmiris have already decided to stay with India.

*(The author is a senior journalist based at Pune)