May 2017 News

Split Between Hurriyat And Militants Of Hizbul Mujahideen Was Long In The Making

12 May 2017

Srinagar: The break-up between Hurriyat and the militants of Hizbul Mujahideen has finally happened. In a video statement circulating on social media, Zakir Musa, the militant commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen, has purportedly threatened Kashmir's separatist leadership, led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, of violence if it terms Kashmir issue as political rather than religious. 'A few days back, the joint resistance leaders issued a statement saying Kashmir struggle is political and it has nothing to do with religionWe warn these Hurriyat people not to interfere in our matters and stick to their dirty politics, otherwise we will cut their heads and hang them in Lal Chowk,' Musa said in the now viral video clip. His statement has predictably caused a flutter among Kashmir's azaadi brigade. Expect in the coming days, attempts by many Kashmiris and the azaadi sympathisers to question the credibility of the video, or how it is an 'insider job' or how Doval and company are trying to divide the Kashmiris. Whatever allegations are levelled and questions raised, it is clear that this break-up was long in the making. And ironically, Hurriyat has brought it upon itself. Its seeds were sown when Geelani proclaimed then Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, after the 9-11 attacks, as the leader of the Muslim Ummah. He had repeatedly urged the Al-Qaeda to include Kashmiri Muslims' 'struggle' in its list of concerns. He had repeatedly urged the Al-Qaeda to include India in its list of enemies which at that time included United States and Israel. The Hurriyat wanted to look 'cool' and maintain its relevance as Kashmiris were getting frustrated with its history of flip-flops and mainstream politics was making a comeback. Little did the Hurriyat realise that it was playing with fire which will ultimately consume itself. Even as the Al-Qaeda was leading the global jihadist movement, a far more extremist band of terrorists was coming together, under the leadership of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq, which wanted to outdo the Al-Qaeda in brutality and the violence that it carried out. Armed with the pan-Islamic ideology and the rising social media profile, this group which now came to be known as the Islamic State quickly stole the thunder from Al-Qaeda and emerged in no time as the leader of the global jihadist movement. The youth of Kashmir who were getting frustrated with the slow or lack of political engagement and the futility of their street protests lapped it up. The radicalisation that was spawned by the Saudi-funded Wahhabi mosques mushrooming in the Valley only aided the process. Some of these youth then joined Hizbul Mujahideen, which at that time was on a decline, to quickly transform it from a group which played second fiddle to the Pakistani anti-India terrorist groups - Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad - to one which would single-handedly lead Kashmir's armed insurgency. All this is the story between 2001 and 2015, with later years witnessing a quick turn of events. Burhan Wani, who was killed last year in July, was the product of that process and Musa is merely carrying that mantle forward. Wani's killing sparked a wave of protests in south Kashmir and the Hurriyat wanted to lead those, but it was too late for it to tout its credentials. In desperation, Geelani then claimed that in his last hours, Wani had called up Geelani and reposed faith in the latter's leadership. But it failed to yield the protestors. This is the logical evolution of Hurriyat's kowtowing before the Al-Qaeda without realising that the Al-Qaeda and Islamic State's ideology is in fundamental contrast to the history of Kashmir and how Islam has flourished in the region. And the consequences are there for everyone to see. Hopefully Hurriyat realises what it has allowed to unleash and does a course correction, howsoever difficult, to accommodate with India. The more it takes time to decide its course of action, the more Kashmir will witness spilling of blood of ordinary Kashmiris, pushing the Valley in the vortex of civil war.