The Blind Horsemen

Last week has been full of very interesting political statements from the Hurriyat as well as Dr. Farooq Abdullah. 

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The “Calendar Movement,” launched by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik, immediately after the killing of Hizbul Commander Burhan Wani, has literally stopped to have an effect on life in Kashmir, and for some people it has even become reason enough to pour ridicule on the separatist leadership for continuing to call for shutdown week after week.
The protest calendars have heaped misery and suffering on the common man, who has been hit hard during last five months now. Over 90 precious lives were lost across Kashmir, almost the same number of youth including young girls lost their sight, several thousand protestors, who took to streets on the call of the leadership, were injured, many suffering permanent disabilities and an even number of youth have been languishing in jails and prison centres, thanks to the visionless leadership that happens to be bereft of any meaningful and positive strategy.
The manner in which the leadership is taking decisions has come for sharp criticism from common people for failing to take into account views of the people who have taken a direct hit from the endless shutdown. In fact, the five month long so called “Resistance Movement” has caused more damage to the interests of Kashmir and its people that it has suffered during last fifty years. Barring a few main markets in civil lines areas, life if back to normal in other parts of the valley. Shops are open and it is business as usual, public transport services that were the worst hit by the protest calendars is back on the roads, even though there have been instances when some of the vehicles have been pelted with stones.
Notwithstanding the claims made by some separatist leaders about the so called gains of the ‘movement’, it can be termed as a “collective defeat” of the leadership which owes responsibility for the heavy losses that Kashmir has suffered in last five months.
It seems, as some say, with a sense of guilt and admission of failure that the “Tri Murti” (Three separatist leaders leading the movement jointly) has started making a tactical retreat and of late there have been some major modifications in the protest calendars. Last few weeks saw some significant relaxations in the otherwise indefinite strike calls, allowing full-day working hours to business community and transporters.
That the protest calendars have added to the miseries and suffering of the people, already hit by the economic crunch, was admitted by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq when he said that “the separatist leadership was preparing for a long-term plan which would not hurt the livelihood of people, the functioning of schools and trade.” Addressing the Friday congregation at the historic Jamia Masjid, first time in the last five months, Mirwaiz was reported as saying that: “time has come when a transition from a short-term agitation to long-term initiatives, programmes and sustainable modes of protest has to be made.”
Meanwhile, in a surprise move, another desperate attempt to shield its otherwise bruised image, the three leaders asked tourists and pilgrims from across the country to “visit Kashmir and enjoy its beauty”. However, barely within 24 hours of the issuance of this appeal, the trio again came up with its protest calendar, making many to question its wisdom and perception.
Someone aptly remarked that Hurriyat should change its name to Hospitality and from now on it should be called as All Party ‘Hospitality” Conference, in view of its open invitation to the tourists and (Hindu) yatris to the valley.
In a related development, National Conference supremo and former chief minister Farooq Abdullah last week threw a bombshell by openly extending his full support to the Hurriyat and its movement for ‘azadi’. Asking Huriyat leaders to stand united for taking the ‘ongoing struggle’ forward, Farooq said his National Conference supported them.
“I want to tell Hurriyat leaders not to separate but be united, and we are standing with them. Don’t consider us your enemies. As long as you (separatists) won’t follow the wrong path, we will support you in this cause.”
“From this ‘sacred place’ (Hazratbal shrine), I want to tell you that you (Hurriyat) move forward, we are with you. Give right direction to the nation. Otherwise, miseries will befall. The issue is not whether or not I am with Hurriyat. In this agitation for demanding rights of the people of Kashmir, NC is with them till they talk about people's rights.”
“If we won’t remain united, they (India) will buy us. “It is very important that we remain united like a fist. Until then, I tell you, we will not succeed.”
Farooq’s latest remarks might have surprised few but for the students of Kashmir’s political history, post-1931, Farooq Abdullah has only followed the path shown by his late father. The latter recited the holy Quran in his impressive voice to mesmerise Kashmiri folk, when needed for political purposes. Also the departed leader changed his political ideology many a time only to be at the right side of popular politics. From Muslim Conference to National Conference, to Plebiscite Front and then back to National Conference, Shiekh made many somersaults for which Kashmiris are still paying heavily.
Following in the footsteps of his father, Farooq, after his party has been out of power and there being no indication of its early return, has now joined the azadiwallas to keep his flock together. Like his father, Farooq in the past has also changed many colours.
A keen separatist who took an oath of allegiance with the late Maqbool Butt to remain loyal to the ideology of an independent Kashmir as espoused by the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, Farooq later chose the green pastures of Indian politics. It was during his tenure as the chief minister, that Black Warrant was signed in his office chambers in the Legislative Assembly in Jammu, in 1984, ensuring the hanging of his erstwhile political mentor, Maqbool Butt.
A loyal darling of Nehru-Indira coterie Farooq rebelled against Mrs Gandhi in 1984 when he was shown the door by his estranged brother in law G M Shah and hosted an All India Opposition Conclave in Iqbal Park here. But on receiving a bait from Rajiv Gandhi, it did not take Farooq days to switch over his loyalty back to Congress that helped him in occupying the chief minister’s chair, once again. Besides, Farooq has quality and courage both, of changing to any situation when it comes to him. He does deliver religious sermons quoting Holy Scriptures and at the same time he has the art of singing bhajans and shaloks in praise of Hindu gods.
When the trouble started in early July and spread like wildfire, there were reports of the direct involvement of NC cadres and now Farooq Abdullah’s utterances have proved it beyond any doubt that these reports were not unfounded. NC leadership thought that Mufti’s government would be shown the door for the largescale bloodshed and fresh elections in Jammu and Kashmir could not be far away. With the PDP having lost its mass support for its alliance with the BJP, NC was dreaming to make a comeback. However that did not happen and in total desperation the NC leaderships has decided to sing the old song of azadi to remain in limelight.

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