Published On: Sun, Aug 19th, 2012

Unfortunate contact

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Syed Ali Shah GeelaniDr. Syed Nazir Gilani,
Secretary General – JKCHR.

Arresting an 82 year elderly leader outside his house on Jumat-Ul-Vida is very unfortunate and shameful

Every Muslim around the globe looks forward to Jumat-Ul-Vida with heightened enthusiasm. August 14 the Independence Day of Pakistan, August 15 the Independence Day of India and August 17 the Jumat-Ul-Vida provoked interest of many manners in the Valley.

The three dates are a package of political and religious importance to Muslims and others. People of the State of Jammu and Kashmir (Valley) have no issue with August 14 the Independence Day of Pakistan and August 15 the Independence Day of India and should not choose to begrudge political independence and equality as peoples, to the people of India and Pakistan. Kashmiri people engaged in a Rights Movement for equality and self-determination should graciously felicitate people in India and Pakistan on their good fortune and in their celebrations on the two independence days. There is very little merit in having any kind of issue with August 14 and August 15. Kashmiri people have stakes in good and bad of both countries.

We may and justifiably so, have issues with the policies of the Governments of India and the Pakistan because each has an interest in Kashmir and looks after its interests in the areas under their respective controls. The people of India and Pakistan may know very little about the administrative practices and character of policies followed by these two Governments in listening or suppressing the daily grievances and the 166 year old case of the people of Kashmir. One of the worrying practices of the administrative machinery looks to be a common denial to accept the man and woman in Kashmir as equal people and address their issues with due dignity. The other worrying practice is to perpetuate and execute their interests through proxies and use protraction to exhaust the enduring ability of the majority grievance.
During the last week we saw a measuring up to each other between mainstream and the separatist (if we call them separatists) leadership. Hurriyat leadership did not appreciate Omar Abdullah’s invitation to move forward and take part in ‘dialogue’ with New Delhi. He was dismissed by calling him an agent of Delhi and accorded very little importance. This approach and understanding of Hurriyat in dismissing the chief minister’s call and regarding him as an instrument of oppression needs an examination.

Dialogue is the age old instrument used by warring and dissenting parties in all civilizations. Therefore, a running away from it for long would not be in the best interests of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. It would indicate that the ‘pro-freedom’ leadership either has not prepared itself for the challenge or lacks the ability and uses the denial mode as an excuse. It would be very unfortunate if at the end of the day, we surface on the question of dialogue, in the same manner as we have exposed our abilities in the fields of politics, militancy and diplomacy. It would be equally seen as a serious negative on the part of leadership, if it continues to remain iniquitous while considering the merits of the chief minister of J&K, prime minister of AJK and chief minister of Gilgit and Baltistan.

Political statement that Omar Abdullah is an agent of New Delhi has passed its sell by date and recourse to such statements should be very cautious and very scant. It is the age of a politics of merit, transparency and comparability. We should not ignore the fact that Omar Abdullah has taken an oath under J&K constitution to serve the people of Kashmir and he has other roles under articles 4 and 48 of the constitution.  His cabinet has been voted into governance by the real people through the exercise of their free vote. The elected character of Omar Abdullah precedes the allegation that he is an agent of New Delhi.

At the same time the government headed by Omar Abdullah should not only invite the ‘separatist’ leaders for a dialogue but should offer himself (including his colleagues) as a State Subject in assisting the leaders to start preparing themselves for the dialogue. He has to work hard to bridge the trust deficit between various political opinions in Kashmir and New Delhi and amongst themselves as well. It is unconvincing that Omar Abdullah should load this responsibility on the ‘separatists’. As a matter of fact his oath and the jurisprudence of articles 4 and 48 of J&K constitution charge him and his colleagues with a duty to advocate the case of the people of Jammu and Kashmir (living in all the three administrations). Passing the buck on to the dissenting section of politicians is not fair and has no merit.

Ruling party (coalition) and the opposition have a higher burden of responsibility to promote the case of the instrument of a dialogue. Unfortunately it appears that NC, Congress and PDP provoke Hurriyat into political rhetoric and use it to cover up their own failure or unwillingness to act in accordance with duties prescribed under the oath and go easy on works required to be done under articles 4 and 48 of the J&K constitution.

The elected representatives in the J&K Legislature are agents of the interests of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and their bilateral arrangement and working relationship with New Delhi remain secondary.  It does not assist the cause of the people of Kashmir and hurts the credibility of the Hurriyat if they fail to understand the political character of Omar Abdullah (CM J&K), Choudhary Majeed (PM AJK) and Mehdi Shah (CM Gilgit and Baltistan) and address them in equity. Scapegoating Omar Abdullah for all that has gone wrong would not persuade the common sense here and abroad.

Omar Abdullah on his part would lose the political argument if he submits himself to anger and the administration resorts to ugly scenes of reactionary measures on the streets of Kashmir. One such ugly scene is the unfortunate physical contact between a police officer (servant of the State) and 82 year old elderly leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani on the door steps of the latter on Jumat-Ul-Vida August 17. The photograph published in various newspapers where one can see the fingers of a police officer sunk wildly deep into the wrist of Syed Ali Shah Geelani would hurt the sentiments of any citizen of the State. It would be regarded as a shame by civilised people in India, Pakistan and in other parts of the world.

Although the elderly leader had rationed the public visits on Saturday 18 August 2012, he was very kind to endure my visit. He was wearing a neck collar, looking very uncomfortable and had severe pain in his neck. It was so touching a situation that I had to volunteer to propose that continuing the meeting would not be wise and requested him to retire to his privacy.

Arresting an 82 year elderly leader outside his own house on Jumat-Ul-Vida in such a display of physical contact, restraining Shabir Shah and other is very unfortunate and shameful. State does not need to be angry or full of vengeance. Officers of the State should differentiate between the lawful activity of a citizen, right to take part in his religious activities, freedom to move and an anti-State activity.

The arrest scene takes one back to the days of Maharaja Hari Singh and it justifiably creates a constituency, when people start having issues with August 15 the Independence Day of India.  Government of J&K has a bilateral agreement with the world’s largest democracy and we hope that government of India and its agents (representatives) conduct themselves well in Kashmir. There should be no cause of concern.

Author is London based Secretary General of JKCHR – NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations. He can be mailed at dr-nazirgilani@jkchr.com


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