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Hurriyat re-structuring: Contending views
Exploring the subject & contemporary political scenario with Shabir Shah & Prof. Bhat
Dr. Javid Iqbal
A meeting with Shabir Shah was overdue, with rumblings of dissent heard in Hurriyat [M] for quite sometime. I met him on a day; he was free of house arrest. At shade over sixty, Shabir is in thick of politics for over four decades. I remember teenaged Shabir demonstrating outside a liquor bar, the only one in his home town—Anantnag. He graduated to be called ‘Nelson Mandela of Kashmir’ so named as his jail yatras exceeded the ones of other resistance leaders. He was declared prisoner of conscience by an eminent international organization. Recent political developments, their build-up and impact was my concern, as I shared a cup of tea and had a heart to heart talk with Shah on a quiet evening.

I did ask him, whether the image is intact of being Nelson of Mandela, he was forthright in saying, “I stay in debt, a debt I owe to my people”. Unity in resistance movement remains his dream, said Shah, as I reminded him that he was once booked for attempting it in 2008. It was almost a done deal, remembered Shah; arrests of leaders involved in the process resulted in arresting the deal. Could it be revived? I asked. The answer was in affirmative, again alluding to debt the leadership owes to people. However doubt was writ large on his face, even as he said that he would not like to loose faith. Far from holistic unity of the entire spectrum of resistance leadership, even one stream of Hurriyat, led by Mirwaiz shows signs of a developing split.

Shah brought forth his take—reorganization of Hurriyat or restructuring, as he called it. Why is it being objected to? I asked. Shah said, “It is not taking the desired course”. And what is the desired course? I persisted. “Holistic restructuring, not piecemeal” replied Shah. Adding a few secretaries to the forum or amalgam would not do. The ideal, as Shah explained would be to dissolve the political parties in the forum, thus make the amalgam a united political force. Since that is not acceptable as parties have sentimental attachments, the next course adopted could be to freeze the parties for the time bring, in order to assign the role of a united political force to what is merely an amalgam at present. He did make out that meetings have been going on, some formal, some informal, however nothing concrete is happening.

Shah recalled his role in finding out what he called the mini-secretariat of amalgam in Rajbagh. He related that the transaction is in the name of Gh. Mohd. Bhat of Awami Action Committee, Dr. Hubbi of People’s conference, M. Shafi of Itehad-ul-Muslimeen, Qazi Ahadullah of Jama-e-Islami, Nayeem Khan of Peoples League, Gh. Nabi Sumje of Muslim Conference. Shah’s armoury of evidences, one after the other in highlighting his efforts for unity seemed considerable. The unity however, withstanding his stated efforts, as well as of others in resistance amalgams seems far from being realized. Shah also paraded his role in arranging the Delhi office of Hurriyat in Malviya Nagar, defunct and non-functional for long.

As I met Prof. Bhat, his version was at variance with what Shah had related. Explaining the present structuring of APHC [M] Prof. Bhat said, two tiers-- executive council and general council exist, whether the structure should continue to exist as it is or should be subjected to change was put to vote in Hurriyat [M]’s executive, as Shabir Shah proposed re-structuring.

Shah’s proposal fell as six executive members—Chairman Moulvi Omer Farooq, Bilal Ghani Lone, Moulvi Abbas Ansari, Agha Hassan, Mukhtar Ahmad Waza, and Bhat himself voted against it. Shah was left alone, with his vote the only one for the proposal. However, it was accepted, related Prof.Bhat, that members of general council be involved in day to day activities of the forum. The mechanism evolved could be committees headed by members of the same tier [read general council]. He capped up his narrative by saying that, “As a democrat, if there be any lacuna in terms of working of AHPC [M] let it be addressed in a democratic culture with no rancour against each other and mechanism evolved to accommodate right people at right places”.

I met Prof. Abdul Ghani Bhat around noon on November, the 18th—the day a statement attributed to SAS Geelani appeared in print media. Answering reporters queries at the end of Hurriyat [G] seminar on ‘Martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA) at Karbala’ SAS Geelani while ruling out union of two Hurriyats and without naming Hurriyat (M) reportedly said, “The present position of that faction is known to everyone. That house is not in order. Everyone is aware of what is happening there.” SAS Geelani was clearly alluding to divisions within All Parties Hurriyat Conference [APHC (M)].

Prof. Bhat while answering my question on Geelani’s take said, “Differences in Hurriyat [M] speak volumes of political health of the amalgam” adding “Let People not convert differences into confrontation”. Alluding to the dichotomy in the amalgam, he said, “I am chairman of Muslim Conference but I am also a member of Hurriyat [M] executive with irreducible commitment to political agenda, which is enshrined in the constitution of All Parties Hurriyat Conference [APHC (M)]”. Stressing on democratic working in the amalgam, he said, “Collective decisions either by consensus or majority being the norm, in case of a majority vote, if the decision goes against my opinion or proposal, it is still a decision to be accepted”. Prof. Bhat called it “essence of democracy, while dictator and hegemony should in principle not be accepted”.

Prof. Bhat might be true on his take of democracy and what he calls hegemony, and he might also be true on Shabir Shah’s proposal being voted out. However the essence of democracy is consensus too. Majority decision is usually followed by the minority getting eased out, and that adds to factionalism within the party or an amalgam. Going by the history of Hurriyat, vertical splits have followed factional break-ups. Shabir Shah and his reputed associates like Nayeem Khan may be in a minority in the Hurriyat [M] amalgam, as was implied in what Prof. Bhat stated, however they lead significant outfits. And were they to leave Hurriyat [M] it would lead to a diminution of the present strength of the amalgam. That is not going to do its health any good. Especially in a time phase when the amalgam has taken upon itself to go to Pakistan and find ways to resolve ‘K’ issue without a significant section of resistance camp being on board.

In the flow and flowery of language, Prof. Bhat excels. While getting a treat in nuances of oration in English language, I was reflecting on SAS Geelani’s chaste Urdu, which is almost poetic in narration punctuated by Urdu and Persian couplets fitting like a fiddle in whatever he seeks to relate. However instead of utilizing the available talent, the leadership fails to unite and present a united front for the peaceful resolution of ‘K’ issue, which is holding up the holistic effort to make South Asia, a zone of peace and prosperity, free of violence of word and action. There are visible gaps in commitment to unity, if not the cause, the cause that continues to suffer, as unity remains elusive. Nobody takes a divided house seriously. And the division, the cracks, the splits, rampant factionalism remain the marked feature of resistance camp. Merely saying that as far as the cause is concerned; we are on the same wavelength is not enough. The uniformity of opinion vis-à-vis the cause is often the plea taken, whenever public concern mounts. What is needed is to walk the talk.

Shabir Shah’s proposal of parties getting dissolved or being frozen for the time being may not have the desired number of takers in the resistance camp. It may not be practical, given the ground facts; however there is no harm in evolving a politically devised super-structure to evolve a consensus. Otherwise, the question whether the ones on negotiating table constitute the holistic set-up of a particular propagation, of the cause being represented or not will remain? And that is not going to do any good to the health of resistance camp.

Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival]

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News Updated at : Sunday, November 25, 2012
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