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As BJP hardens stand, separatists unite, to march together

india Updated: Jul 08, 2015 22:35 IST
Peerzada Ashiq

First time since the 2010 street agitation, the hardened position of New Delhi on Kashmir on Wednesday spurred a loose alliance among separatists in the Valley, first such effort after the separatist conglomerate Hurriyat split in 2003.

Three key players in Kashmir separatism --- factions of the moderate and hardliner Hurriyats and Jammu Kashmir Liberation
Front (JKLF) --- are planning a joint march on July 13 from Jamia Masjid to Martyrs Graveyard in the old city where civilians killed in 1931 are buried.

The state government also observes it as Martyrs Day and all mainstream parties pay floral tributes at the graves housed on the premises of the Naqsbandh Sahib shrine.

The fresh coordination between separatists, otherwise poles apart, comes in the wake of a spree of killings, including four separatist supporters, in Sopore by unidentified gunmen in May and June this year.

These killings forced moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq to organise a meeting of other separatist groups in Jamia Masjid last month.

Hardline Hurriyat's Muhammad Altaf Shah and JKLF's Noor Muhammad Kalwal met the Mirwaiz to form coordination between factions of separatists "to tackle bigger issues jointly."

"We may have differences between us and differ in our approach but have decided to lend issue-based support to each other," hardline Hurriyat spokesman Ayaz Akbar told the Hindustan Times.

Moderate Hurriyat spokesman Shahid-ul-Islam said the coordination will be a permanent feature between separatists now in the wake of changing political dynamics between Delhi and Srinagar.

"We fear incidents like Sopore may occur again. We want a joint response to such attempts. A need is felt by all separatist groups to join hands in issuing joint protest calls," said Islam.

In a first, the joint protest programme for July 13 has decided not to call for a shutdown, which was a permanent feature in the past, in view of ongoing Ramzan.

"It has been decided that the Martyr's Day would be observed jointly as Youm-e-Tajdeed (the day of resolve). There will be joint prayers at Jamia Masjid and thereafter the leaders would lead a big procession towards Naqashbandh Sahib," said the Mirwaiz, who on Tuesday shot off letters to JKLF chief Yasin Malik and hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Geelani for joint programme.

"We would reiterate our firm resolve to take the freedom struggle forward to its logical conclusion," said the Mirwaiz.

With the hopes of dialogue with the BJP-led government in the Centre dashing, the separatists seem to have decided to harden their position.

"The BJP has buried the legacy of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Except for India, both Pakistan and leadership in Kashmir support dialogue process on the Kashmir dispute," said the Mirwaiz, adding, "It's unfortunate development."