Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik has declared that his opening of office in downtown Srinagar on Sunday was part of his plans to "motivate youth for resistance through politics rather than guns."
He says his inspiration in enrolling the youth of Kashmir for political resistance developing for our cause was Edward Said, a Palestinian–American literary theorist and an outspoken advocate of Palestinian cause. Said was a strong champion of the cause of Palestinians.
Yasin Malik’s opening of office in densely populated Bohri Kadal in downtown Srinagar, regarded as a stronghold of the Mirwaiz family, triggered violent protests.
"JKLF is not a banned group. It has ceased to be a terrorist group. Now we are a political movement and the opening of office should be read in the context of our larger mission,” Malik told Hindustan Times over phone after having spent the night in his new office in Bohri Kadal.
Yasin Malik, who was among the first group of terrorists to launch secessionist violence in Kashmir in late 1980s, had renounced violence and use of guns in May 1994.
Since then he claims to be following the Gandhian ways. Regarding Sunday's clashes, he said that "some elements frustrated by the response our rally received, resorted to mischief of disrupting it, which people foiled."
Though Yasin Malik did not identify the "frustrated elements”, the target figure was clear: All Parties Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.
Mirwaiz whose family has had complete sway over the residents in the area, however, denied that his supporters clashed with the JKLF activists. He laughed away over the charge of "frustration", as if dismissing the allegation as inconsequential.
“Why should we object to anyone opening any office anywhere. What I am told is that people were furious over certain things, they protested or clashed,” he told HT over phone.
Yasin Malik said that JKLF always had a base in the area. He referred to the history of “Sher-Bakra” feud of the times when National Conference founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah was alive, and also during the times of Farooq Abdullah. NC activists were known as Sher or lion and that of the Mirwaiz family as bakra or goat.
He said there were 70 per cent of NC supporters and rest of 30 per cent were “bakra”. When terrorism started, the “NC supporters joined JKLF”. “So we have always been there in a huge majority,” JKLF chairman claimed.
This claim was again laughed away. A colleague of Mirwaiz said that “Yasin is putting the strength other way round. We were 70 per cent, NC 30 per cent.”
This “Sher-Bakra feud” was brought to an end on the eve of the 1983 Assembly elections after Farooq Abdullah and Mirwaiz Moulvi Mohammad Farooq (APHC chairman’s father) entered into an alliance for the sake of “Muslim unity”. Their accord came to be known as “Double Farooq” accord.
Yasin Malik, when asked whether his rally and entering what is known as “pro-Pakistan bastion in Srinagar” were his rebuff to hardline leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, as some keen political analysts have noted, he said, “all the surveys done so far, whether by BBC, AFP, Reuters and two reputed Indian magazines - India Today and Outlook, and Pakistani magazine Newsline - all have said one thing: 85 per cent of people of Kashmiris support independence.”
“If we are talking about wishes of the people, why should we shy away from admitting the reality,” Malik said.