‘Azadi’ Demand Contested By Political Parties

29 September 2008

Srinagar: The separatist leaders have given a call for October 6 for “Lal Chowk Chalo” the city’s historical and central point - to demand the right to self-determination for “azadi.” Ignoring the “ground reality” and world-wide anti-reactions on bids of independence by South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the Kashmir separatist leadership are citing their example to justify their agitation. A top officer of the Jammu and Kashmir police, however, said that the reaction of the separatist leaders on developments in South Ossetia and Abkhazia reflected their “twisted mindset.” “They are now drawing inspiration and strength from these two breakaway regions of Georgia South Ossetia and Abkhazia and are convincing themselves that a similar thing will happen here sooner or later,” he said commenting that “I can only say that they are living in a fool’s paradise.” Referring to the political upheaval in the Caucasian region, the separatist leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, has, however, described these developments as “coming into being of new nations despite subjugation and suppression.” “Independence of these two new States within Europe has reinforced the resolve of the people of Kashmir to achieve their right to self-determination for freedom,” says Geelani. And, in the opinion of Yasin Malik, chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia “is a psychological inspiration for the suppressed Kashmiris.” The People’s Conference chairman, Sajjad Gani Lone, has said that the independence movements in South Ossetia and Abkhazia proved that small countries could exist along giant nations. “Some people claim that an independent Kashmir can not survive,” says Lone, “but it is just a myth…developments in Kosovo, South Ossetia and Abkhazia have boosted ‘azadi’ sentiments in the Kashmir Valley.” However, the People’s Democratic Party General Secretary, Nizamuddin Bhat, is of the opinion that “the Kashmir situation cannot be compared with the Caucasian region as both have a different history and origin of conflict.” The National Conference president, Omar Abdullah, in a recent television interview reiterated his party’s categorical rejection of independence or merger with Pakistan as possible solution of the Kashmir dispute. The separatist leaders in the Kashmir Valley, however, take pains to tell you that Russia, while recognizing the “independence” of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, noted that “every State has the duty to refrain from any forcible action which deprives peoples of their right to self-determination.” “But these separatist leaders tend to ignore global condemnation of such a bid for independence. They also conveniently ignore that Russia has never backed their stand and has always endorsed India’s claim that Kashmir is an integral part of its territory,” a senior bureaucrat said.