In a major departure from his old stand, senior separatist leader Prof Abdul Ghani Bhat has said the United Nations (UN) resolutions on Kashmir are inapplicable now and the Hurriyat needs to forge a common minimum programme with mainstream political parties like the ruling National Conference (NC) and opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
"UN resolutions cannot practically be implemented… which in my opinion is complex. These resolutions may not be implemented at all. Therefore we have to explore the possibilities of finding a solution of the problem through dialogue," Prof Bhat said during a mass contact programme of the moderate Hurriyat in north Kashmir's Sopore district, 55 km away from Srinagar, on Sunday.
The statement assumes significance because moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was present on the occasion. The statement, however, has divided separatists' ranks vertically.
"The issue was never deliberated in Hurriyat councils. All Hurriyat constituents are bound by a constitution drafted in 1992 which is clear that UN resolutions form the base of the resolution," said Hurriyat constituent National Front chief Nayeem Khan on Monday.
Distancing himself from Bhat's utterances, Khan said, "Whatever he said was his personal opinion. If anyone is tired he should leave resistance politics. He has no public mandate," said Khan, while demanding dissolution of two-tier Hurriyat system. "We need one democratic United Resistance Council," he added.
Political Party chairman Hilal War, who is not a Hurriyat member, questioned the silence of the Mirwaiz over the issue. "The Hurriyat chairman was present on the occasion. Why is he maintaining silence," said War, a militant turned politician.
Several separatist groups disagreeing with Bhat's utterances held a separate press conference in Srinagar on Monday.
The Hurriyat is a conglomerate of seven separatist groups and Prof Bhat represents Muslim Conference. Bhat also took the separatist ranks by surprise when he called for "forging a political unity".
"Let all the parties recognize that we are all Kashmiris and well-wishers of Kashmir. Let us talk in one voice and follow one single political agenda. Kashmir is a dispute and seek a resolution of it…NC talks about autonomy, PDP talks about self-rule. Why should not we move together with a common minimum political agenda and push it ahead," he suggested.
Former JKLF militant commander Javeed Mir lashed at Bhat for his unity call. "The mainstream political parties killed our cadre, their hands are red with blood of Kashmir. It's their system which is unleashing suppression in the state," said Mir.
Mainstream political parties, however, has welcomed Bhat's new realization. "We are there for anything that would bring peace in Jammu and Kashmir and peaceful solution to Kashmir issue," said NC spokesman Tanvir Sadiq, while welcoming the statement.
"We have autonomy document passed by the Legislative Assembly. It is valid constitutional document. If someone has better document and better solution than what we have proposed, we would welcome it (sic)," said Sadiq.
"The party will take a decision whenever a formal meeting in this regard is sought," said PDP spokemman Naeem Akhtar.