A statement issued by Syed Ali Geelani last week has evoked a severe reaction from Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. People, by and large, have started accepting the fact that unity between various factions of the Hurriyat Conference is not necessary. But at the same time they have made clear that making their differences public is totally uncalled for. A politician has to talk because it is talking that can lead to a solution. But the talking has necessarily to be open and transparent. The masses, reposing trust in the leadership, need to know what happens when the leadership meets people from outside behind closed doors.
The mistrust of the people viz-a-viz secret talks is not totally unfounded. The government of India talked to the Sher-e-Kashmir’s deputy, Mirza Muhammad Afzal Beg, for several years. Both the Sher-e-Kashmir and Beg concealed material facts from the public because they were not sincere. Their only goal was power which they ultimately got, but after keeping the Kashmiri people hostage. This acted to the detriment of the movement.
There is no denying the fact that the leadership has committed mistakes at times, but it is goes without saying that they (leaders) command respect and make millions of hearts beat in this beleaguered nation. People trust them, private and public criticism notwithstanding. This casts a duty on the leadership to stay prudent. There is no scope for secret diplomacy in revolutionary politics. Nobody has opposed the meetings of the leaders with politicians in Delhi or intelligence officers. But the people have a right to know what happens behind closed doors. These meetings, the leaders must bear in mind, remain secret only as long as New Delhi wishes. Finally, a time comes when it decides to go public on the issue and the leaders are caught on the wrong foot. This problem can be addressed by coming clean. It will ensure transparency and mass involvement in the decision-making process on the one hand, add to the credibility of the leaders on the other. There is absolutely no need of hiding material facts from the public.
Further New Delhi has to prove its sincerity. The government of India betrayed the Sher-e-Kashmir. Even the individual used to dethrone him in 1953 was treated like scrap. They stabbed Dr Farooq Abdullah in the back, but he failed to learn the lesson. The state constitution was vandalized in the name of so-called integration. Article 370 of the Indian constitution guaranteeing special status to Jammu and Kashmir was eroded over the past five decades. Kashmiris, therefore, have no reason to trust the government of India, and their concerns need to be appreciated.