Three days after a Kashmiri teenager was killed allegedly by a teargas shell fired by the police, four masked men addressed the local press at Srinagar’s Nowhatta locality, a stronghold of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, the chairman of the moderate faction of the Hurriyat Conference, on February 3.
They ridiculed the Hurriyat for calling a day’s shutdown to protest the death of 13-year-old Wamiq Farooq and called the separatist group’s leaders “Indian agents’’. As the Kashmir cauldron boils again, men spearheading the separatist cause are finding it difficult to keep a lid on the situation — and admit their credibility is at stake.
“For long we have tried our best to keep things peaceful —don’t know how long can it happen (the situation remain manageable),’’ the Mirwaiz said.
The Hurriyat is a conglomerate of groups espousing the separatist cause.
The Mirwaiz accuses the Centre of pushing the situation back to the volatile Nineties, when violence and strong counter-measures by security forces took place almost every day. In recent years, except for the Amarnath flare-up in 2008, signs of normalcy were evident. In 2010, the normalcy feels like a good dream that is over.
“With restrictions, police excesses and daily deaths, the situation has changed,” the Mirwaiz said. “Delhi has to understand that the youths are being pushed to the wall.”
Changing his stance, the Mirwaiz has refused to participate in any dialogue with the Centre unless it has “something concrete’’ to offer, because “we can’t lose our credibility”.
The credibility crisis was apparently triggered by the killing of Wamiq Farooq and Zahid Farooq (16), allegedly shot at point-blank range by the Border Security Force on February 5.
A few months ago, the Mirwaiz, despite dissent from other separatist quarters, had insisted on a political solution for the troubled Valley.
The language is different now. “Indo-Pak dialogue has not taken place. We had made it clear through back-channels that it is not a Srinagar-Delhi pact,” he said. “It has to be (a) Srinagar-Delhi-Islamabad (pact).”
He said the “anger and anguish” of the youngsters were justified and “we are with the stone-pelters”.
Political analyst Gul Wani said the absence of talks between India and Pakistan had made Kashmiri youngsters helpless. “Besides, the quiet diplomacy also failed to make any headway,” Wani said. “Talks have been going on since March 1952, but what has happened?” Hurriyat hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani asked HT.
Leaders from the Opposition People’s Democratic Party admit their space for political manoeuvring has shrunk. “The mistrust among people has taken away the space we had tried to carve out for mainstream political parties,’’ said PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti, who used to visit families “where innocent killing happened’’. This time she did not visit the dead teenagers’ families. “I didn’t know how people would react,’’ she said.