Srinagar: There is a twist in Prof Abdul Gani Bhat’s tale. The top Hurriyat leader has denied meeting the centre’s interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma. According to Bhat’s statement, he met a Kashmiri Pandit and a non-Kashmiri at his house at around 9.30 pm on November 27. He says he had a “general discussion with them on Kashmir”.
Bhat also denies that there was any other Hurriyat leader present at the time. He also has stayed short of identifying the non-Kashmiri leader. And if he met him he ought to be knowing who he is. They must have introduced themselves to him. And if he knows him why is he hiding his identity. The statement has thus hidden more than it has revealed. It has also deepened the mystery about Bhat’s meeting with two unidentified persons at his residence. What makes him not to come clean on this?
There are no answers. And Bhat is himself responsible for creating the confusion. Here it is important to recall that for a week after the story revealing his alleged meeting with Sharma was published, Bhat chose to neither confirm nor deny it. Why? Again there are no answers. One can very well ask if he didn’t meet the interlocutor why he waited for a week to deny it.
In a sense, this attempt to create confusion is the quintessential Bhat. He has always been like this, never known to give a straight answer to any question.
Tossing off wisecracks and bon mots, Bhat in his inimitable style chooses to philosophise an everyday situation.
In regard to Sharma, he made it known that the doors of his home were open to whosoever visited him. He expressed his commitment to the institution of dialogue. He even slammed the Joint Resistance Leadership comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik for rejecting dialogue with the interlocutor.
And now following a weeklong hullabaloo about his alleged meeting with Sharma, Bhat denies that it even took place. And the meeting, on the contrary, was held with the two strangers. This is almost a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. Nobody knows what is on the Bhat’s mind. But one thing is for sure: Bhat’s refusal to go along with the JRL’s policy on talks with Sharma has exposed the deep rumblings within the separatist ranks.
This is seen as an attempt by the leaders marginalised by JRL’s ascent to separatist to assert their relevance and to snatch the limelight back from the JRL. Bhat, along with Bilal Gani Lone and some other leaders isn’t happy with the JRL becoming the sole arbiter of Kashmir’s separatist discourse. So weren’t earlier the senior leaders like Shabir Shah and Nayeem Khan – both now in NIA custody – in the Geelani camp.
Early this year, Shabir Shah had resigned as the General Secretary of the Geelani faction. But with Bhat batting for dialogue, even the one with Sharma, the discontent is out into the open. There is thus a need in the pro-freedom camp to forge a larger unity. The decisions need to be taken with consensus which as of now doesn’t seem to be the case as Bhat’s revolt seems to indicate. The need is also for the top leadership to reach out to other senior leaders and bring them back into spotlight. This alone will take care of the crisis facing the separatist camp.