Separatists Lie Low: Are These Signs Of Fresh Cracks?

6 February 2009
Kashmir Times

Srinagar: Have the separatists adopted the wait and watch strategy or old cracks have once again starting widening after their recent anti-election boycott call proved ineffective in most of the phases in the assembly election? The separatists have not given any programme, since the December 24 Lal Chowk Chalo call. The call was thwarted by the authorities by imposing curfew in Srinagar city and other major townships of the Kashmir valley to prevent people from participating in it. After the conclusion of the assembly elections, various separatist leaders have openly admitted that their anti election call proved ineffective, because the call was given in a hurry and they did not understand the basic problems of the people, particularly in rural areas. Some separatist leaders have asked the Kashmir Co-ordination Committee (KCC) to rethink while giving anti-election boycott calls. The separatist leaders also said that lack of strategy for highlighting the sentiment of the people at international community, after one million people participated in the pro-freedom protests, proved disastrous. Instead, they made elections as a big issue, out of non issues, which has nothing to do with the resolution of the Kashmir issue. The separatists are definitely facing the public pressure by not giving any future programme. The Hurriyat Conference (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said that they will soon come out with a comprehensive programme about their future programmes but he did not disclose it. The chairman of the other faction of the Hurriyat, Syed Ali Shah Geelani almost said that within a couple of months new programme would be announced which would lead the ongoing movement effectively to its logical end. The repetition of 1996 assembly election was also witnessed in the separatist camps when senior Hurriyat leader Ali Shah Geelani and DeT chief Syeda Aishaya Andrabi alleged that some separatist leaders have directly or indirectly supported the assembly elections. Even Andrabi said that it has become complementary to take out the “dead wood” who had confined their movement to the party offices and did not make any serious effort to ask people to remain away from voting. The leaders also accused that some separatist leaders deliberately asked police to keep them under house arrest during polling days. There is no denying this fact, state authorities used all its resources to arrest the Hurriyat leaders and arrest almost all the senior separatist leaders and put them behind bars to prevent them from organising anti-election campaign. The government was shocked to see when flood of people participated in their programmes. But the unexpected participation of people during elections not only surprised the separatist but also political observers who were expecting that there would be low voter turnout in elections. The separatist parties, trade unions, KCCI and both the factions of employees’ joint action committee (EJAC) which were talking in the same breath during land row agitation are looking like a divided house now. The EJAC which earlier agreed not to attend the polling duties resumed election duties despite the call given by the Kashmir Co-ordination Committee. The EJAC interestingly was a constituent and who had given the anti poll boycott. The political circles here believe that it would be an uphill task ahead for Kashmir Co-ordination Committee to give future programmes and to unite all constituents of the Hurriyat Conference after they once again start accusing each other of supporting the assembly elections. After 2002 assembly elections there was a major split in the Hurriyat Conference after one of the factions blamed a constituent that they had fielded proxy candidates. The Kashmir Coordination Committee succeeded to a large extent in narrowing down their differences and made it possible to bring senior separatists on a common platform, but the KCC is silent after the election and did not give any programme.