Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Hurriyat (G) chairman, tells Baba Umar the State is fanning rumours of another unrest
You have proclaimed that there will be no prolonged strikes this year. Is it a strategy shift?
Hurriyat (G) was never for violent agitation. From 2008, we have been regularly saying that ours is a peaceful struggle. It was the Machhil encounter, together with killings and arrests, that provoked people’s wrath. We were forced to call for strikes because of continuous killings. This year we hope the summer passes peacefully and traders don’t lose business. Hurriyat (G) has decided not to issue protracted strikes; however, the onus lies completely on troops and police. It’s actually the government that wants to devastate Kashmir’s economy by fanning rumours of another unrest.
Does Hurriyat (G) support slogans of ‘khoon ka badla June mein lenge’ (blood for blood will be in June)?
See, whether or not Kashmir witnesses an unrest-free summer depends entirely on the troops and the police. If they continue to kill innocent civilians and arrest youth, there will be repercussions. This slogan is something our cadres and party don’t support.
Kashmir IGP SM Sahai has taken a dig at you, saying that no hartal calls were witnessed in the past three winter months.
First of all, it’s not the police’s duty to call press conferences and question why strikes were not called in winter. The police should be more concerned about maintaining law and order, stopping crime, social evils and corruption among so-called mainstream politicians. We call for strikes when they are needed. We don’t call for unnecessary strikes. People understand the government is working against them, so they observe strikes. It is appalling to see the police talking about safeguarding business but at the same time arresting youth. The IGP can say only 116 people have been arrested, but a daily exposed that over 4,294 people are under detention while 195 youth have been slapped with the draconian Public Safety Act. The police didn’t file a single FIR against the CRPF or police personnel involved in last year’s killings. These are double standards.
The police recently arrested Ghulam Hassan Mir aka Chhota Geelani and claimed he was collecting money from people to trigger another unrest. What do you say about that?
The police have arrested more than 50 Hurriyat (G) activists who are working for the people and Kashmiris’ right to selfdetermination. We don’t seek money from anyone to run the movement. It is people who donate us money happily. And why would Hurriyat (G) pay anyone to launch protests? The decades-long injustice by New Delhi and its cohorts has been enough to push youth to the streets.
The Delhi Police Special Cell recently questioned you in connection with revelations by one of the four accused in a money laundering case. What did you tell the sleuths?
Almost the same thing. The police officials claimed the money is a part of a hawala racket, which I denied. I reiterate Hurriyat (G) is paid by the common Kashmiri to run the ongoing struggle against New Delhi’s rule.
Your son Nayeem, who just returned from Pakistan, is rumoured to be your successor. Is it true?
Our party has a constitution outside which we don’t work. The leaders are selected in a democratic manner. Leadership isn’t forcibly installed, neither do we believe in references or recommendations. No one will be forced on people even if he is Geelani’s son or any other relative.
Are you happy with the interlocutors’ demand of a judicial probe into last summer’s killings?
They are hoodwinking people. There will be no probe.