Prof. Bhat likely to get company

Srinagar: As the senior separatist leader Prof. Abdul Gani Bhat has created uproar in the pro-freedom circles by saying that engagement with any Indian shouldn’t be perceived as ‘anti-freedom movement’ , a sizeable chunk of separatists are in agreement with his views.

With the National Investigation Agency (NIA) – probing the funding of separatist activities in J&K – going all out against the middle rung separatists, the sources say they are seriously thinking about the engagement with the Kashmir interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma.

“Even though we realize it is a time buying exercise, most of the people in the resistance camp are not averse to the idea of engaging with New Delhi,” sources in the Hurriyat said.

Instead of entering into a serious dialogue, they said middle rung separatists want to deflect the New Delhi’s assault on pro-freedom camp by talking to Sharma.

“We also want to buy time till the present nationalist government led by Narendra Modi changes its mindset or engages Pakistan in a serious dialogue,” they said.

Despite, the lower rung separatists willing to talk to New Delhi, the writ of joint resistance leadership of Syed Ali Geelani, Yasin Malik and Mirwaiz Umer Farooq runs large in Kashmir.

Following the media reports of the meeting of Bhat with Sharma, the Muslim Conference (MC), a constituent of the moderate Hurriyat Conference, has split into two factions as the rebels expelled veteran separatist leader and MC president Bhat for meeting Sharma.

In a letter to Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, the chairman of the moderate Hurriyat Conference, the MC said it had appointed a new chairman, Muhammad Sultan Magray, for six months.

“As you know, Bhat’s secret meeting with Sharma has been a cause of concern for the party and the people of Kashmir. In this backdrop, a meeting of the MC leaders was held, in which it was decided that Magray would be the new president of the outfit for a period of six months,” the letter read.

The expulsion comes amidst reports that Bhat had met Sharma on the latter’s second visit to the state.

The new MC president, in the letter issued on Sunday, said the Hurriyat should contact him for any future correspondence with the outfit.

However, Bhat, on his part, expelled the representative of the MC’s Pakistan chapter, Manzoor Ahmad Bhat, at whose behest he was expelled from the Hurriyat.

In a letter addressed to Manzoor and counter-signed by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Bhat said he had expelled him as the representative for Pakistan for ‘indiscipline’.

Bhat said he didn’t meet Interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma, but instead two persons –  a Kashmiri Pandit and a non-local – visited his residence on the evening of November 27.

“We had a general discussion on Kashmir. There was not any other Hurriyat leader present as said in media reports,” Bhat said.

Bhat said he is a staunch supporter of dialogue, but the recent initiative of New Delhi “lacks methodology” as Pakistan is a prime party to Kashmir issue. “Without Pakistan, no dialogue is fruitful,” he said.

However, Bhat in a veiled attack on joint resistance leadership said, “I don’t play politics on blood and tears of masses. There is no place for dictatorship in a movement. Dictatorship can happen in politics but not in a movement which is fighting for a cause,” Bhat said.

He said the “collectiveness in leadership ended in 2003”, when the Hurriyat split into two factions.

Mirwaiz has issued a show cause notice to Bhat to clear his position on what is being reported in media about his meeting with Sharma.

However, the uproar in separatist circles seems to have disappointed Sharma.

“I wish they (separatists) were in my control but that is not the case,” he said.

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