Disconnecting Geelani from people will not help

Over the past some days,  the Kashmir Observer tried hard to contact Hurriyat G chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani for an interview on the current situation. But all access to the Azadi patriarch was denied, not by the Hurriyat, but by the government. Our correspondent was denied entry to Geelani’s besieged residence at Hyderpora. Nor was it possible to reach him by phone. We thought it was important to get the answers to some pressing questions from the leader considering the fact that it is now his word more than that of the government that determines the life in Kashmir on a day on day basis. But it was not to be. Hurriyat leader remains under a strict house arrest. He is not allowed to meet anyone. All the leaders of his Hurriyat faction, much like those of the others are in police custody, including those operating from his residence. 


This seems designed to create a gulf between Geelani and the ground situation,  forcing him to think and decide in a vacuum.  And this vacuum is only further deepened by the continuing detention of  Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik. The consequent disconnect between the leaders and the  uprising spearheaded by them has created a situation which seems to be going on regardless, without a sense of direction or tied to a tangible outcome.


It is clear that in the absence of a day on day engagement with the evolving  state of affairs, the pro-freedom leaders will not be able to exercise the control over the ongoing upsurge and rethink its direction, which is so critical  to prevent the situation from tipping into anarchy. On their part, both the state and the central government seem hardly in a position to make a redeeming difference to the situation. Their efforts have been hobbled by the unwillingness to start a dialogue with the Hurriyat or launch a political initiative.


After a feeble attempt at a political outreach in the first weeks of the unrest, New Delhi has given up all pretence of any outreach. Fidayeen attack at Uri which killed 19 soldiers and the subsequent surgical strikes have further taken the attention away from the deteriorating situation in Kashmir. Similarly, except for some half-hearted statements emanating from the United Nations, America and OIC, the world has remained untroubled by the developments in Valley. This has created a dead-end scenario. The only way the government has so far chosen to deal with the situation is through a disproportionate  use of force leading to more than 90 killings, several hundred blindings and the injury to more than 15000. But this, in no way, has ushered in normalcy even though it might have moderated the intensity of the protests. The force alone, the past three months have once again proved, will make no difference to the political underpinnings of the  current situation. Least that the government is expected to do is to let pro-freedom leaders engage with the people, now that it has no plans to politically engage them. 

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