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Kashmir: Where leaders mislead, and people bleed – HITESH TIKOO

"Life is what happens to us while we are busy making other plans", Henry Cooke had once remarked. A year ago, something similar happened to Pakistan's most trusted asset in Kashmir. While Syed Ali Shah Geelani--who once upon a time was Pakistan's loyal servant in Kashmir--dreamt Kashmir becoming Pakistan, Indian government had other plans that made him useless to his masters across the border and in the politics of today's Kashmir. 

We don't know whether Geelani's decision to step down from the hardline faction of Hurriyat was because of his realisation of a failed movement and endless Kashmiri blood spilled in the conflict, or because he was forced to do so as he became useless to his masters, but now as he lays on his deathbed and prepares to meet his fate, there are questions Kashmiris should be asking themselves. 

What did Kashmir's most wicked monster and his ilk bring to Kashmir in all these years, and what was all the blood for? 

Geelani, who pushed Kashmir into a never ending cycle of radicalisation, terror and violence, accused the Hurriyat leadership across the border of failing to lead the people of Kashmir and called them “just a representative forum” with “no power to take any decision''. Geelani told Kashmiris to ''decide for themselves''. So, shouldn't Kashmiris be asking what took him so long to realise and say the bitter truth? And what did the Hurriyat leadership bring to Kashmir in the last 30 years? 

Kashmir's sad reality is that its leaders, like Geelani, the Muftis, the Abdullahs and others, have duped the people for decades, and misled generations after generations. And while they did so, they made sure their own families flourished by amassing wealth worth crores of rupees and their children and grandchildren settled in other parts of India and abroad, but Kashmir's youth remain indoctrinated and its men and women pushed onto the streets with stones and molotov cocktails, all in the name of a flawed resistance called Aazadi.

Mehbooba Mufti, chief of the People's Democratic Party, had last year warned the Indian government to "stop playing with fire", saying there would be no Jammu and Kashmir or India left, and not just J&K but the entire South Asia will burn if Article 370 was abrogated. However, in reality, 370 was removed and nothing that Mehbooba had said happened anywhere in South Asia, let alone in Kashmir. So, Mufti apparently tried to make sure that Kashmir's youth was ready with stones and molotov cocktails while her own daughter was living in peace with her aunt in Chennai. Her daughter studied in universities in Delhi and England, worked in Dubai, but Mufti wanted Kashmir's youth to be prepared to die in the name of Aazadi. 

Few days ago, more than a year after the abrogation of Article 370, another Kashmiri leader, Farooq Abdullah, said in an interview to ''The Wire'', that Kashmiris do not feel Indian. One should ask him which Kashmiris is he talking about? Is Dr. Abdullah referring to Kashmiri Shias? or the Buddhists and Christians of Kashmir? Or Kashmiri Sikhs? Or the Kashmiri Hindu and Muslim leaders and sarpanchs who worked for the welfare of the people but were killed because Pakistan couldn't keep them on the same tight leash? Who are these people who are not feeling Indian? Abdullah went on to say that the people of Kashmir would rather have the Chinese rule them. I wonder whether he understands what that means for the people of Kashmir. Does Abdullah want Kashmir to become a totalitarian state with concentration camps where Kashmiri Muslims would be kept like the Uyghurs in China, and where their organs are harvested and sold?

This is exactly what the leaders in Kashmir have been doing, misleading generations after generations, sending them out on the streets with stones and petrol bombs, inciting terror and violence just to make their own political ends meet. 

Earlier this week, Babar Qadri, a Srinagar based lawyer, had posted a Facebook video in which he accused the Hurriyat leader Mian Abdul Qayoom of misleading Kashmir's youth in the name of Aazadi while his own children were far far away from the resistance. Qadri also claimed that Mian Qayoom believed that the stone pelters were Kashmir's Islamic commandos. Indeed, Qadri rattled the snake pit. Two days after he posted the video, Qadri was shot dead outside his Srinagar home. Hardline Kashmiri leaders are masters in fomenting Islamist fervour. They are not told to achieve peace, instead, history suggests that their only job is to annoy the Indian state and make sure Kashmir's leaders (many kept on a tight leash by Pakistan) always conform with Pakistan's agenda which is nothing but to destroy Kashmir and take control over it. Those who dare to defy are killed in cold blood. 

Leaders like Geelani and their ilk have blood on their hands. From Baramulla to Banihal, they owe an apology. It is them who are responsible for the cold blooded murders of Abdul Ghani Lone, Shujaat Bukhari, Ishrat Muneer, Babar Qadri and thousands others who dared to speak for actual peace. Behind their righteous talks of justice, aazadi and martyrdom, these leaders on Pakistan's leash serve a wickedly monstrous agenda to let Kashmir bleed until Jhelum turns blood red. 

In the post-370 era, Kashmiris have to decide that do they really want to trust these leaders who have mastered the art of subterfuge, misled people and achieved nothing over the years? Leaders who care for nothing but their own personal interests? And leaders who glorify violence and make this flawed Aazadi resistance look sexy? Do Kashmir's leaders really represent the wishes and sentiments of the people? And what if it was a totally peaceful resistance without the stone pelting mob, OGW's and Kalashiknovs? Would that have accomplished anything meaningful?

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