Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters Arunoday Prakash
Omar Abdullah’s rule has been the worst of all, has proved to be Nero of Kashmir, says Kashmir separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani in this exclusive interview.
Under house arrest in his Rawalpora residence in Srinagar, the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat chairman, Geelani has made it clear that his outfit will boycott the upcoming elections in Jammu and Kashmir. Geelani also claimed Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh were working towards creating a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ in India and added that J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is a puppet in the hands of the Indian home ministry.
Excerpts from an exclusive interview with Arunoday Prakash of The Political Indian
Jammu and Kashmir is going for elections soon, is there any possibility of your party joining the electoral process?
Never. Under no circumstances can we participate in the upcoming elections. Our stand on Kashmir is that it is a matter of dispute and therefore our demand is that the only electoral option available is a referendum. Local elections under the shadow of the 7.5 lakh Indian soldiers can be never be free and a substitute to the referendum.
Given the fact that elections will take place, people will vote and elect representatives, who (party/person) do you see as the best to govern the state?
There is no difference between any of the local pro-India political parties or politicians as they are all only proxies. The real ruler is the Indian home ministry, with the local rulers only as puppets.
'Omar Abdullah has proved to be the Nero of Kashmir'
Photographs: Mukesh Gupta/Reuters
So you will once again be calling for a boycott of the elections?
Yes, we will again call for a boycott of the elections as we believe that elections are used by India to exploit the people of J&K and used as a propaganda tool globally to strengthen and give a justification to the military occupation of the state.
There are some who say that you do not wield as much influence over the Kashmiri youth as earlier.
This is an assumption and a part of the vicious propaganda unleashed by the Indian intelligence agencies to create a wedge between the Hurriyat and the youth of Kashmir. The youth of Kashmir are with us, connected by their heart and soul and therefore no false propaganda can take them away from us.
How do you rate the Omar Abdullah's regime?
Kashmiris have been exploited and their rights consistently trampled during last 67 years of Indian rule and it is continuing even under the rule of the puppet, Omar Abdullah, who has proved to be the Nero of Kashmir. His rule has been the worst of all. He has proved to be an incompetent person.
How do you rate the Narendra Modi government? Any fears?
It does not matter who is ruling India, the policy of the government of India remains the same -- of political stubbornness and hegemony. But besides these facts, the new government of India headed by Modi is based on the RSS ideology and agenda and is working towards creating a ‘Hindu Rashtra’.
'Our demand is the right of self-determination'
Photographs: Daish Ismail/Reuters
What is your reaction to Modi’s stand and his minister Jitendra Singh’s statement on Article 370? Is it the portrayal of the government’s policy?
There is great disconnect between the stated position and the real intent of the government of India on this. The stated policy may be of “no abrogation” but in reality the government of India is working covertly to destroy it (Article 370) but it is not openly ready to acknowledge it due to fears of reprisals. The position is deceitful.
Do you still think that Pakistan can be an alternative for the Kashmiris, when that country has so much internal strife?
Our demand is the right of self-determination for the people of J&K. We want respect for our rights and demands and believe people of the state of Jammu and Kashmir are politically mature and capable enough to make a decision, when given a chance to choose.
What future do you see for your outfit -- Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, given the fact that there have been splits?
All separatists have a common goal vis-a-vis the independence of Jammu and Kashmir. Our paths may appear to be separate but the goal remains same and we are all working towards this common goal.
'All rulers of India have proved to be spineless and indecisive'
Photographs: Fayaz Kabli/Reuters
Why is there a trust deficit in the Kashmiris when it comes to the government of India?
The government of India and the political leadership is responsible for this trust deficit as it is the Indian leadership that has backtracked on the promises made to the people of Jammu and Kashmir time and again. Right from 1947, India has not fulfilled even a single promise made to the people of Kashmir.
Who do you think was the best PM of India vis-à-vis Kashmir in the last 30-40 years? Why?
When it comes to the Kashmir dispute, all the rulers of India have proved to be spineless and indecisive. No Indian prime minister has been able to take a bold initiative to resolve this long pending dispute. Instead they have used the sufferings of the people of J&K for personal political gains, to strengthen their authority and position -- both within the political parties they represent and within the governments they have headed or are heading.
What is your take on the government of India’s response over the Gaza crisis?
The Indian stand on this issue can be termed as criminal as it tacitly sided with the Israeli terrorist actions on the people of Palestine. The silence is not befitting for a country claiming to be the world’s largest democracy.
What future do you see for Kashmir in the next 10 years?
I feel that the youth of Kashmir hold the key and I see that the youth here is full of valour and their hearts are filled with the passion for azadi (freedom). And this passion is what will lead us and be decisive in our demand and goal for freedom in the next 10 years. Insha Allah!
The interview was first published and is reproduced courtesy of The Political Indian (www.thepoliticalindian.com).