Srinagar: Unification of resistance leaders was Wednesday marked as one of the indispensables for taking forward the “ongoing freedom struggle” in Jammu and Kashmir.
Almost all speakers who addressed a seminar organized by Kashmir High Court Bar Association (KHCBA) here called upon the leadership to bury their difference for “larger public interest.”
“The unification of residence leadership is highly imperative. As long as we remain divided, we will not move forward,” Mian Abdul Qayoom, president of the lawyers’ body said while addressing the seminar titled “New Challenges to Resistance Movement”.
“Differences mark the soul of struggles, but they should not be such which take us away from our goal,” Qayoom said.
He said that 65-year time is not a long period in struggle of nations and that people should not lose heart. “Kashmiris have sacrificed their lives. India also struggled for hundreds of years. We have our own example of overcoming 100-year Dogra rule. All we need is to get united,” he said.
Speaking on the occasion, chairman of Dukhtaran-e-Millat (DeM) Asiya Andrabi proposed a 3-day workshop to the issue of unity.
“The biggest challenge to resistance movement is that India is trying to change demography of Jammu and Kashmir. The people of India, whether politicians, media persons or a commoner, are united that Kanyakumari to north is one, so that they can call for plebiscite and all our sacrifices will go waste,” Asiya said.
“In 1993, there was one Hurriyat. Then there was a split (in 2003), and now we have third Hurriyat. We are doing a wonderful job, shame on us,” she said. “I request Bar Association to take an initiative to bring together all Hurriyat-loving people for a workshop. I am talking about Hurriyat leadership, media, lawyers and civil society, and hold a three-day workshop and work out a roadmap to defeat India’s designs.”
Asiya also stressed need for “proactive freedom struggle” and termed the 2008 to 2010 mass movements as “reaction”.
“We need pro-active movement. What are we doing except for holding seminars and giving passionate speeches,” she said. “Please do not make joke of people who sacrificed their lives and are at the receiving end.”
Former KHCBA general secretary G N Shaheen said that nations have never achieved freedom by “hollow sloganeering.”
“From 1989 till today, we have remained silent on some critical issues, but better late than never,” he said, urging the leadership to unite.
“Our struggle is victim of failure of leadership. People who compromised over 2008, 2009 and 2010 mass uprisings have to be taken to task. Nation wants answers,” Shaheen said. “If they cannot unite, what is the harm in creating a new leadership? People are united, but leadership is not. They call for strike, we follow. They call for protest, we follow.”
He also stressed need for discussing ‘fast changing’ geopolitical scenario which according to him has direct relevance on Kashmir issue.
“We are on a crucial stage of our freedom struggle and we should take lessons from freedom struggle of Palestinians, Ireland and others,” Shaheen said. He said that people cannot remain silent on ensuing Assembly elections and there was a need for leadership to visualize it.
Shaheen also asked Hurriyat leaders to ponder upon and find answers why only teenagers are being targetted and kept behind bars by the state.
Referring to Asiya’s remarks, Shaheen said, “Proactive step was taken in 1990, we had 6500 (militants) then. Now police has said there are only 65 (militants) left.”
In his address, former KHCBA president, Nazir Ahmad Ronga, said the division in leadership explains why “our struggle hasn’t succeeded.”
“In India, there are diverse identities that follow different religions and languages, but when it comes to Kashmir, they are united. At one point of time we were offered a ‘Bhutan type’ status, but we did not agree at that time. The position is quite different today.”
Ronga said that upcoming Assembly election was the biggest challenge to the ‘movement’.
“We should give a final chance to pro-freedom leadership to unite, and if they fail, the Bar Association should devise its own strategy for taking the freedom struggle to its logical end,” Ronga said.
President of Doctors Association Kashmir Dr Nissar-ul-Hassan said for Kashmiris role model should be Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and not Gandhi or Nelson Mandela.
“Z-security people and those living in palaces can’t be our leaders. This freedom struggle needs blood. It needs martyrdom and we should be ready for it,” Dr Nissar said.
National Front chairman Nayeem Ahmad Khan in his address admitted that the leadership committed mistakes.
However, he said, it doesn’t mean that they have not sacrificed and that the leadership was not aware to the situation facing the ‘freedom struggle’.
Shakeel Qalander, a member of civil society, said the biggest challenge was “identity crisis”. “Wherever we go we refer to Kashmir problem and not J&K problem. We are often told as to why we are not referring to J&K problem, but we tell them that Maharaja did never say that he is Maharaja of J&K.”
He said that every year five lakh outsiders come here and they earn their livelihood at the cost of local people. “We have created social problems for local masons, carpenters, sweepers, etc. who are not now ready to opt for their services because of stigma.”
Qalander said that shawls made in Amritsar are sold as Kashmiri shawls, which has destroyed the economy of the state. “We have sufficient resources for our sustenance, but those resources are in the hands of outsiders.”
Others who spoke during the seminar included Meraj-ud-Din Kalwal (representative of Hurriyat Conference-G), Abdul Samad (chairman Islami Tanzeem Azadi), advocates Mohammad Amin, Arshid Andrabi, Syed Manzoor, Bashir Sidiq and N. A. Tabassum.