In their first reaction to a death threat issued by militant commander Zakir Rashid Bhat, Kashmir’s separatist leaders on Sunday evening warned that any disunity in the “freedom camp” will give the Indian government a chance to sabotage the movement.
In a joint statement, separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik asked all political and militant organisations to fight for freedom with “vision and wisdom”. The grouping – consisting of both moderate and hardline leaders – said it was important that the factions remain united and adopt the “spirit of persistence” in pursuit of their cherished goal.
“The freedom movement is in a crucial stage. We need to be careful because our enemy may gain an advantage from prevailing crises,” they said without directly naming any person or militant outfit.
Militant commander Zakir Rashid Bhat alias Zakir Musa severed ties with the Hizbul Mujahideen on Saturday, hours after the outfit’s leadership in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir trashed his threat to behead Hurriyat leaders.
The rift in the outfit came about after Musa referred to the leaders of the Hurriyat Conference as “hypocrites, infidels and followers of evil”, and threatened to chop off their heads “if they create any hurdles in the path of turning Kashmir into an Islamic state”. He was ticked off by a May 8 statement by the separatists that the “freedom struggle in Kashmir has nothing to do with ISIS and al-Qaeda”.
The separatists said they continue to stand by their previous statement.
“In the nineties, the situation was more awful and complex. We paid a lot in terms of precious lives and kind. We got swayed by our emotions, instead of following logic. Disunity and political differences have proved disastrous in the past,” the joint statement read.
Claiming that they were facing a “shrewd enemy”, the leaders said: “They hatch conspiracies on one hand, and employ all their repressive measures and military might to sabotage the movement on the other. However, all political and militant factions have decided to remain united against them. We won’t allow India to create a rift in the resistance camp.”
The separatists said they have succeeded in shrugging off their “hardline and moderate” tags, uniting on a one-point programme of attaining “freedom from forced occupation”. Geelani, Mirwaiz and Malik forged a pact based on issue-based unity at the start of 2016, and have been issuing joint protest calendars ever since.
“India stands frustrated by this unity,” the joint statement said. “We ought to remain cautious, and refrain from taking any step that would help its forces play foul with the freedom movement. Our history of unparalleled sacrifices has enabled us to stand against such grim situations. We all need to work together to achieve our mission.”