By Bashir Assad
Srinagar: Blaming some ‘invisible hands’ within and outside separatist camp behind failure of Hurriyat Conference re-unification, senior Hurriyat (M) leader and chairman Democratic Freedom Party, Shabir Ahmad Shah, Sunday said that reunification was his dream.
Talking to this correspondent Shah said, “On June 19, 2008 when we had a meeting at the residence of hard-line separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, unification process had almost been finalized and only modalities were left. But then most of us were arrested and the process got derailed.”
Shah blamed some invisible hands within and outside the separatist camp for derailing the process. “Some people didn’t want unification and were not in favor of it,” he said without elaborating.
Asked to identify those elements, he said, “Time will expose them.”
However, when insisted he blamed Indian agencies for derailing the process. “I was detained under Public Safety Act eight times in the last three years. And the reasons of my detention in the PSA dossiers were that I was making efforts for Hurriyat unification. Re-unification of Hurriyat wasn’t in the interests of Indian agencies as it would have made Hurriyat a vibrant forum,” he claimed.
On Hurriyat (M) restructuring process, Shah said, “We had started the process and all the parties had been asked to suspend there activities and carry forward activities in the name of Hurriyat only. But then I was in jail and the process was stopped.”
Asked who was responsible for stopping the process, he said, “There were some internal and external hands to stop the process. Some people didn’t like restructuring process which I had started in 2008.”
“We won’t succeed till we will not take people at grass roots level into confidence and there is no better way than,” hesaid
Asked why he has restricted his activities in Hurriyat after being released last year, Shah said, “After my release I had again made an attempt for restructuring. I attended one or two meetings of the Hurriyat. Hurriyat isn’t anybody’s personal property. Hurriyat is asset of the nation.”
Asked whether some people within Hurriyat (M) didn’t want to see restructuring and unification, Shah said, “I can’t rule out it?
The DFP chairman said that anything can be changed in Hurriyat, ‘but for right to self-determination.’
“Within the frame work of possibilities anything can be changed in Hurriyat, but right to self-determination condition can’t be changed,” he asserted.
Asked whether Hurriyat will contest election to prove its representative character, he said, “There is no question of contesting elections under Indian constitution. Why George Bush (senior) and Robin Cook met me? It was because I represented sentiment of Kashmiris. When 11 lakh people came on streets on the call of Hurriyat in 2008, it was referendum.”
However, he said that if elections were held under UN or under the supervision of civil society members from India and Pakistan, ‘we are ready to participate.’
“If India claims that people of Jammu and Kashmir aren’t with freedom movement let them hold referendum and see what people want,” he added. Supporting Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s strike politics, Shah said, “To achieve something, you have to sacrifice something. When you don’t have any other option what will you do. I agree people suffer. But to achieve freedom, you have to make sacrifices.”
On allegations that separatist leaders made lot of money in the name of freedom movement, he said, “Money is important to run any movement. Everybody is a human first. But if isn’t true that we have done something wrong. We are accountable before Allah.”
Asked if New Delhi invites Hurriyat leaders for talks, he said, “We are always ready for talks. We aren’t against talks between India and Pakistan, but it should be meaningful and purposeful.”
[Bashir Assad is a senior Journalist based in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir. He is now Bureau Chief (J&K) of IndianMuslimObserver.com. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org]