Pakistan & LeT Flags Waved at ‘Moderate’ Hurriyat Faction Rally in Kashmir

Pakistan and LeT (Lashkar-e-Taiba) flags were raised during a rally in Kashmir organized by the so-called ‘moderate’ separatist Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. Addressing the crowd during Friday prayers, Farooq also alleged that a conspiracy was underway to ‘change the demography of Kashmir by converting its Muslim-majority into a minority’. But facts tell a different story.

As per census figures, the proportion of non-Muslims in Kashmir valley fell from 5.97% in 1971 to just 3.42% in 2011 – Hindu population in the Kashmir Valley comprises mainly adult males; and, thus, does not form a part of the society there. The drastic fall in Hindu population in the valley is mainly due to the systematic campaign of religious cleansing carried out by Islamists in 1989-90. Even in Jammu, the proportion of Muslims has increased from 30.7% in 2001 to 33.5% in 2011.

This is how media reports describe the said rally –

“Moderate separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq today held a rally in the old city here ahead of death anniversaries of two separatists in which Pakistani flags were raised. Clashes also were reported from Sarafkadal area of the old city.Following the Friday afternoon congregational prayers at historic Jamia Masjid at Nowhatta, Mirwaiz came out on road along with his supports and marched through the streets to Hawal locality.

Eyewitnesses said over 2,000 supporters of Mirwaiz carrying party, Pakistani and pro-militant flags marched to Hawal, where they dispersed peacefully. However, clashes were reported from Sarafkadal area. Mirwaiz has called for a general strike tomorrow on the death anniversary of Kashmir’s two slain leaders — Mirwaiz Moulvi Mohammad Farooq and Abdul Gani Lone. To foil the strike, the J&K government has decided to impose restrictions in five police station areas. Moulvi Farooq was murdered in cold blood on May 21, 1990, when unidentified gunmen barged into his Nigeen residence at Srinagar and assassinated him.

Lone, a moderate separatist leader, was also killed on May 21 in 2002, by unidentified assailants at a rally that had been held to mark the death anniversary of Maulvi Farooq at Eidgah ground. Lone was father of separatists Bilal and Sajjad, who is the first separatist-turned-mainstream politician and is a Cabinet minister in PDP-BJP government.

Earlier, Mirwaiz Umar in his Friday address at Jamia mosque said that attempts of “harming the religious and cultural identity of Kashmiris and changing the demography” of the region by converting Muslim-majority into a minority were being made under a well planned design.”

The Oxymoron Of ‘Moderate’ Separatism

The All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) is an alliance of 26 political, social and religious organizations formed on March 9, 1993 as a political front to raise the cause of Kashmiri ‘independence’. According to the Hurriyat Conference, Jammu and Kashmir is a disputed territory and ‘Bharat’s control’ on it is not justified. It supports the Pakistani claim that Kashmir is the ‘unfinished agenda of Partition’. The APHC perceives itself to be the sole representative of the Kashmiri people. The outfit’s primary role has been to project a negative image of counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir and to mobilise public opinion against the Bharatiya security forces. The alliance has consistently, in several documented cases, distorted facts to suit its propaganda.

In 2003, Hurriyat formally split with 12 constituents raising a banner of revolt against the then chairman Moulana Abbas Ansari for not throwing out People’s Conference led by Sajad Gani Lone over fielding of alleged proxy candidates in 2002 elections. Later, Mirwaiz led the ‘moderate’ faction of the Hurriyat while Geelani became the chairman of the ‘hardline’ faction.

While Geelani openly advocates the union of J&K with Pakistan – “We are Pakistani; Pakistan is ours” – the moderate Hurriyat faction speaks about ‘independence’ and a trilateral dialogue over the state. But beneath the surface, their real positions on most issues such as the Shri Amarnath land transfer controversy  are eerily similar. And the deep ties of both factions with the Pakistani state, especially ISI, is an open secret. During the trial of convicted ISI agent Ghulam Nabi Fai, a US attorney had said that Mirwaiz Umer Farooq is controlled by the ISI.

Both Hurriyat ‘factions’ have not uttered a single word of regret for the genocide and cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits from the valley…in fact, they are busy spreading propaganda that the state of Bharat is conspiring to change the overwhelmingly Muslim majority demography of the valley.

And underneath all the rhetoric, the actions of the so-called ‘mainstream’ valley based political parties like PDP and NC are no different from the Hurriyat in maintaining the special status of Muslims in J&K. PDP and NC make perfunctory calls for Kashmiri Pandits to return to the valley, while shouting down the only feasible solution i.e separate well-guarded townships for Pandits – and neither of them are open to any discussion on Article 370 which bars people from the rest of Bharat to settle in J&K. Kashmiri Pandit activist Sushil Pandit has rightly called these valley based parties as ‘closet-separatist parties’.

It is time the state of Bharat stops tying itself in knots dealing with these various shades of separatism in the valley – we must accept that Kashmir has been radically Islamized beyond redemption, and any steps to resolve the conflict there and stop further persecution of non-Muslims in the state of J&K must take cognizance of this immutable fact.