SRINAGAR: The Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) on Thursday held a press conference in which all the three JRL leaders, Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik, commented on the statement of Indian Army chief Bipin Rawat that Kashmiris cannot win independence from India because of its military might. Rawat’s statement, they said, “is admitting the fact that the Kashmiri people want freedom from India and the Indian state wants to crush them by its military force.”
“It is an open admission of Indian occupation in Jammu and Kashmir,” the Mirwaiz said in the joint press conference held by the trio of leaders at his Nigeen residence. “But we won’t bow before them, because the idea of freedom for us is stronger and sacred than the might of the Indian state.”
Rawat, in a Facebook Live session on Wednesday, had said that “to seek independence from a nation where we have strong armed forces, very strong democracy and very strong government…you cannot secede from India.” A day later, the JRL held a presser in which Geelani talked on phone to the media from his Hyderpora residence where he is detained for many years now. Mirwaiz and Yaseen were allowed by the government to talk to the media face-to-face.
Veteran leader Geelani said that General Rawat has tried to equate the Kashmiris’ peaceful resistance with terrorism, which has no relation with each other. He said the resistance against the state is being carried out through peaceful means because the people of JK believe that the issue can only be solved peacefully and not militarily.
“Freedom is not only our aspiration but right, too, because the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India was made by the autocratic ruler on temporary basis, which was never ratified by the people for more than seventy years. Therefore, it holds no value,” said Geelani. “We are demanding that the people be asked whether they would like to be with India or be free. This has been asked through peaceful means at all the recognised forums.”
“Now, despite this history in place, the Indian army chief has been spreading lies, misinforming his own people. We are not against the prosperity of the Indian state; instead, we want it to grow with happiness. Our only legitimate demand is that we want freedom and don’t want anything from the Indian state,” Geelani said.
On the chargesheet filed by the NIA against pro-freedom leaders on Thursday, Yasin Malik said that it is only a tactic to browbeat the leadership, which is never going to happen. He said the chargesheet carries no evidence that the 2016 uprising was instigated by Pakistan or funded by it.
“In the chargesheet, NIA, on flimsy grounds, has said that the uprising was funded by Pakistan, which is far away from the truth. It happened because the martyr Burhan Wani was killed by the Indian forces, and not by the Pakistani forces, and people gathered at his funeral and then the Indian forces fired bullets on them, killing dozens of civilians on daily basis. This was responded to by massive protests,” Malik said.
“Geelani and Mirwaiz sahab and I then spearheaded the uprising,” Malik said. “Unfortunately, the NIA has not made any of the three of us part of the chargesheet but booked many of those who were behind bars during the uprising. They have also kept the chargesheet open, which is pressure tactic. Let me tell them we are not scared, and would be proud even if we are killed.”
On the statements of the army chief, Malik said that they show that Kashmir affairs are being looked after by the military and not by the civilian government.
“This shows nothing has changed in Kashmir. It is an indication of return of Ikhwan rule in the Valley. We are determined, because azadi is our love and a kind of worship for us,” he said.
The JRL also called for observing Republic Day of India, on January 26, as a “Black Day”.