Srinagar: Reacting to the “hints of dialogue offer” given out by the Government of India, Hurriyat Conference (M) chairperson Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Friday said that the change in attitude of New Delhi was due to persistence and commitment of the people of Kashmir, particularly of the youth, to secure their Right to Self-Determination.
Addressing a mammoth Jummat-ul-Vida congregation at the historic Jamia Masjid in Srinagar, the Mirwaiz said that the blood and sacrifice of the youth of Kashmir, their courage to stand up to the might of the second-largest military power in the world, and their fearlessness in the face of extreme repression has forced New Delhi and even its army to talk of dialogue.
Mirwaiz said that killings, tortures and massacres have been the hallmark of successive governments in Jammu & Kashmir during the past 30 years. He said the situation has worsened during the 4 years of the PDP-BJP government.
“Youths are being targeted, the leadership has been targeted; this has been the hallmark of the current regime,” he said. “When BJP took over the reins of government in New Delhi, we were hopeful that they will adopt the policies of the veteran BJP stalwart Atal Behari Vajpayee. He talked with both Pakistan and Kashmiris. I remember, when he visited Kashmir for the last time during his tenure as Prime Minister of India, he said that economic packages cannot resolve the issue of Kashmir.”
The Mirwaiz said that Vajpayee had also initially announced economic packages. “But he soon realized the reality and accepted that the issue of Kashmir is about the wishes, aspirations and sentiments of the people of Kashmir.”
Kashmir’s chief cleric said that the current regime is against the Hurriyat, against Kashmiris, and against Pakistan. “They have stopped the dialogue process, scuttled the foreign secretary-level talks, and there are restrictions on ground, mass arrests and extreme coercion.”
Mirwaiz said that New Delhi launched an all-out assault on the people of Kashmir: legally, economically and militarily. “Article 370, 35A challenged in Indian courts, GST implemented in defiance of special status and laws of the state, separate settlements for certain communities along Israeli pattern of settlements, vicious and negative propaganda on Kashmir to cripple economy by dissuading outsiders to come here, was all part of a plan,” the Mirwaiz said.
“Regular arrests and detention of leadership and the NIA harassment and witch hunt… On the military front, an all out-offensive in which hundreds of civilians were also killed… It was actually operation “Wipe Out “of Kashmir’s young generation,” he said.
The Mirwaiz said that all this was pursued after due accord of Delhi’s local collaborators, who provided a buffer for these polices and helped carry them out.
Mirwaiz said that New Delhi has suddenly taken a U-turn. “They want to talk now. It seems they have realized that the iron-fist policies and coercion is not going to resolve the Kashmir problem.”
“What we are observing is not so much a change of heart but rather a change of strategy forced upon the rulers by the change in circumstances,” he said.
Mirwaiz said it is the victory of people’s perseverance and their faith that despite killings, repression, humiliation, harassment, and intimidation, New Delhi has failed in subduing Kashmiris or dissuading them from their path. “In fact, repression has added to the anger and alienation, forcing many among the youth, mostly educated and well-settled boys like Riyaz, to sadly take up the gun. Every youth in Kashmir has shown resilience to occupation and rejection to subjugation in some way or other. Their deep connect with the struggle for self-determination is visible everywhere –whether protesting on streets or in their educational institutions, or participating in funerals of martyrs or on social media.”
This, he said, had made New Delhi realize that despite its huge military apparatus and all resources at its disposal, it has failed to crush the people of Kashmir and their sentiment.
“We are happy that for whatever reason, if good sense has prevailed upon New Delhi and they have realised the futility of using force on people,” he said.
Mirwaiz said the pro-freedom leadership was in no hurry to respond to Delhi’s talk of having a dialogue. They will discuss the matter in the coming days and will respond after due deliberations, he said.
Commenting on the government’s claims of development, he said nobody is against development. “We also want development for our people,” he said, but added, “I ask those who give us sermons on peace and development: where in the world fo people not want development? But development without peace is of no value.”
Mirwaiz said if the situation changes in Kashmir, their circumstances will automatically change. “If New Delhi really cares for our children as it claims, we welcome it as a human gesture. We also want that our children be nurtured properly and believe this is possible once they are brought out of the uncertainty that surrounds them. It entails resolution of the Kashmir dispute, above their (Delhi’s) stated position, by looking at Jammu & Kashmir in the wider context of humanity and justice,” the Mirwaiz said.