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Unrest in the Valley: Games separatists play

The Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, could not have asked for a more rousing return to the Valley.

comment Updated: Apr 16, 2015 23:09 IST
Hindustan Times

The Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, could not have asked for a more rousing return to the Valley.

After a break of more than three months in Delhi, Geelani was welcomed by thousands of supporters, led by the younger hardline separatist Masarat Alam Bhat — who was also making his first public appearance after his release from prison last month.

People lined the two-kilometre stretch between the airport in Humhama and Hyderpora, to the Hurriyat’s headquarters.

Addressing the rally, Geelani criticised the Mufti Mohammad Sayeed-led state government of ‘befooling’ the people by talking about the Kashmir problem but maintaining the status quo.

A case was registered against Geelani and Bhat among other separatist leaders under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for ‘provocative activities and hoisting the Pakistani flag’. According to the police, some people participating in the rally threw stones at CRPF vehicles that were deployed at the rally site.

Wednesday’s rally is problematic on at least two counts. First, it can be seen as a possible prelude to a summer of unrest in the Valley since the trigger factors continue to persist.

The unrest in 2010, which saw the shooting of more than 120 youth, began after the Machil fake encounter. Likewise, there will be concerns that the recent shooting by security forces of the brother of a Hizbul Mujahideen militant at Tral and protest rallies like the one seen on Wednesday can generate an environment for more protests to follow.

Second, such rallies will further strain the PDP-BJP alliance. The coalition has been under duress from the time of its inception following Bhat’s release and the controversy over ‘composite townships’ for Kashmiri Pandits. Geelani is evidently trying to drive a wedge through the PDP-BJP coalition by organising such rallies.

Geelani and Bhat should explain how their pro-Pakistan posturing will address the problems the people in the Valley face. Separatist leaders should realise that they are merely tying the hands of a state government that may be disposed to listen to them. New Delhi must be alert to such scenarios and set about addressing Kashmir’s concerns urgently.

First Published: Apr 16, 2015 21:58 IST