‘Stone pelting has defamed non-violent struggle of Kashmiris’
Senior separatist leader, Moulana Abbas Ansari took the political circles in the valley by surprise when he met the team of interlocutors. The move irked Hurriyat Conference (M) which suspended its constituent party led by Ansari- Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen only to revoke the decision later.
Unfazed by the development, Ansari says, “I am not bound by any provision which stops me from expressing my views which are based on facts.”
He strongly advocates the need for dialogue of Kashmiri leadership with New Delhi and Islamabad. Kashmiris have to look for opportunities to address the lingering Kashmir dispute, he argues. Ansari says he is ready to contest elections provided if they are not conducted under the constitutional framework of India.
In an exclusive interview with Rising Kashmir reporterMansoor Altaf, the former Hurriyat chairman talks about his controversial meeting with the interlocutors and the overall political scenario in Kashmir following the 2010 unrest.
How do you see the summer unrest of 2010 in retrospect?
The violent protests of 2010 achieved nothing for the cause of Kashmir. All the progress made in way of political settlement of Kashmir was lost due to the meaningless unrest. Our education and economy suffered. People were kept hostage to the petty hartal politics and curfews. The unrest gave us a lesson that we cannot achieve the desired fruits of struggle making use of violent means including stone pelting. Violent clashes brought us only misery, death and psychological trauma.
But as per some political pundits the stone pelting by youth proved to be more potent weapon than armed movement in attracting the attention of New Delhi towards Kashmir problem.
A. Violence in any form is unacceptable. Violent protests accompanied by stone pelting in 2010 brought all the progress made for resolving the Kashmir dispute to ground zero.
Can the process of engaging through mediators be helpful in breaking the ice between separatists and GoI?
A. The Government of India acknowledged the need of resolving the Kashmir issue with the Kashmiri leadership and also Pakistan. I stand for the meaningful dialogue and I believe that it is the only way forward. When I met interlocutors I made it clear that the dialogue on Kashmir issue has to be with the top leadership i.e. Prime Minister of India and not any employee deputed by the Indian government.
You met Interlocutors against the provisions of Hurriyat directives. Do you think your meeting them was worthwhile and helped Kashmir cause in any way?
A. There was no prior programme fixed for the meeting. The three interlocutors dropped at my residence unexpectedly. However, even if I am not in agreement with any person, and he approaches me, it is against my etiquettes to refuse meeting him. I want to make it clear that I was not meeting them in the capacity of a Hurriyat leader, but as a common host who would always welcome his guests whenever anyone visits him. It is worth as government of India has started making efforts to engage the leadership of Kashmir and also Pakistan for the resolution of Kashmir dispute.
After your meeting with Interlocutors, your party (Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen) was suspended from Hurriyat. Were you aware of the consequences?
A. I am not bound by the directives of any Hurriyat Conference which stops me from talking to anyone. I am free to express my views. I want to ask you, did chairman of Hurriyat conference (M) Mirwaiz Umer Farooq asked for anyone’s permission when has been meeting some delegations.
In the future if interlocutors will approach you. Will you meet them again?
A. Yes I can interact with the panel again provided Prime Minister be also part of the talks on Kashmir issue. I told the interlocutors that the invitation should be addressed to the Hurriyat conference and not me. Meaningful dialogue can only take place when all the three parties Jammu and Kashmir, India and Pakistan are involved. I have been reiterating that the future of Kashmir has to be decided by the people themselves. But before any dialogue can take place, government of India should make efforts to evolve an amicable atmosphere for the same.
After suspension from Hurriyat, you said ‘you got your freedom’. Now with your reinstatement in the amalgam are you again bound by the restrictions?
A. As a part of Hurriyat, before making any announcement we have to first communicate it to the party leadership. Personally, we are not bound by any restriction. I haven’t yet decided whether I should join the Hurriyat again or not.
Are you currently in touch with Hurriyat Conference?
No I am not in any sort of communication with the Hurriyat leadership.
What is your opinion about political discourse after unrest 2010 and your remarks about stone pelting?
A. Whether it was before 2010 or now, unless both India and Pakistan declare Kashmir as an international dispute, there can be no meaningful political discourse on the issue. We have to involve all the parties which are affected by the Kashmir issue. The use of violence has been decried by all leaders. Stone pelting has only defamed the non-violent struggle of Kashmiris.
How far do you think is New Delhi and the state government serious in resolving Kashmir issue and dealing with 2010 unrest?
A. Unfortunately, the political leadership at both levels hasn’t taken enough measures to reach out to the aspirations of Kashmiri people. Their lackadaisical approach is largely responsible for the unrest of 2010. However, their predecessors NDA government led by A.B. Vajpayee made serious attempts involving Pakistan as a part to the resolution of Kashmir.
Wouldn’t it be unfair to blame only the mainstream parties for the last year’s unrest?
A. From the beginning I am against continuous strikes. The overuse of Hartal politics led our state on the brink of bankruptcy. Call for Hartal should be given only when it is reasonable and necessary.