Tables Turn In Kashmir: Farooq And Geelani Swap Roles In J&K Politics

21 June 2014
Daily Mail Online

Srinagar: National Conference patron Farooq Abdullah and Hurriyat hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani have apparently switched roles in the politics of Jammu and Kashmir. Pushed to the margins by the Opposition PDP's win in the general elections and its pretence of espousing soft-separatism, Farooq has raised anti-New Delhi rhetoric and accused the Centre of changing the Muslim character of the state. Meanwhile, Geelani, who would settle for nothing less than the right to self-determination as solution of the Kashmir issue, has taken a leaf from former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's book while calling for a solution within the ambit of humanism. As Farooq chairs the NC meetings regularly to evolve a strategy for the upcoming Assembly polls, scheduled to be held in October-November this year, the party is trying hard to beat the PDP in pro-separatist overtures. In one such meeting early this week, Farooq asked NC leaders and workers to remain vigilant as New Delhi is changing the Muslim identity of Jammu and Kashmir. He stated NC would not allow this demographic change to happen and it would spill its blood to maintain the identity of the state. Farooq did not stop there. The former Union Minister criticised what he called 'anti-Article 370 rants' of the new government in Delhi and raised the slogan of 'Jis Kashmir ko khoon say seencha, woh Kashmir hamara hai'. The NC had fought the Lok Sabha elections on the anti-Modi plank. The party was confident of a win, but defeat at the PDP's hands in the Valley has jolted its rank and file. The PDP had contested the elections, promising a separate Kashmir Affairs Ministry and a special session of Parliament to discuss the Kashmir issue. At a time when Farooq Abdullah is giving the impression of being a 'Kashmiri nationalist' to woo voters, hardline separatist leader Geelani on Thursday shocked Kashmir observers by praising Vajpayee's vision for solution of Kashmir. In 2003, Vajpayee on his visit to the Valley as the PM had called for resolution of the Kashmir issue within the ambit of humanism. Vajpayeehad said he wished to resolve all issues through talks, guided by the principles of Insaaniyat (humanism), Jamhooriyat (democracy) and Kashmiriyat (Kashmir's legacy of amity). Echoing his words, Geelani observed Vajpayee had promised to solve the Kashmir issue on humanitarian grounds. Vajpayee, according to Geelani, was the first Indian PM who talked about resolution of the Kashmir issue within the ambit of humanity. 'But till now it was never implemented on the ground,' he added. Geelani's statement has left observers puzzled as in the past he would castigate moderate Hurriyat faction led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq for their soft approach towards Delhi.