In what could be seen as a bold and unconventional stand from the traditional separatist stand, the Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Liberation Party, JKDLP Chairman Hashim Qureshi said that it is incorrect and perhaps even hypocritical to call Sheikh Abdullah a traitor. Lakhs of Kashmiris welcomed Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah after he returned from Delhi after the Sheikh-Indira Accord, indicating that they were with late Abdullah. The statement is probably one of the first of its kind from a separatist politician during the ongoing movement. The Ganga hijacker turned separatist politician refused to brand late National Conference founder as ‘traitor’ and said, “If Sheikh was a traitor, then what were the lakhs of Kashmiris who followed him.” He further added that after signing the ‘infamous’ Indira-Sheikh accord, Kashmir was shut on former Pakistan Prime Minster Zulfikar Ali Bhuto’s call, but when Sheikh landed in Srinagar, 10 lakh people were there to welcome him.“ How can you call him a traitor when he was not only welcomed by so many people, but also won the next Assembly Elections with an unprecedented majority of 77 seats?” Said Qureshi. In an exclusive Interview with The Kashmir Magazine, Hashim Qureshi also took a dig on separatist leadership and said that they were befooling the people with dreams of ‘Azadi’ since past sixty years and were instead fighting for Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan. He also said that United Nations resolutions were ‘irrelevant’ for Nationalist Kashmiris who believe in an Independent State of Jammu & Kashmir. The UN resolutions where turned into a fight over land between two countries and only provide Kashmiris with a choice to vote for accession with one among the two neighboring countries. It was Pakistan who initiated an amendment in the UN, to which India did not object, which eventually turned ‘The future of the State of Jammu & Kashmir’ into the ‘Indo-Pak Question’. He blamed pro-freedom leadership for what he said, befooling Kashmiris by promising Independent Kashmir while they propagate for the implementation of the UN resolutions. The UN resolutions simply do not constitute of any option except accession to India or Pakistan.
Hashim termed perusal of UN resolution as a futile exercise and said the freedom movement has lost the track and people are betrayed by the leadership. When Leadership is demanding the right to vote in order to choose whose slaves they would like to be, how can they then claim to fight for ‘Azaadi’? I reject the UN resolutions, which only offer us Kashmiris to choose between the slavery of India and Pakistan and that is why I am called a Pakistani agent and an Indian agent at times by those who work in the national interests of India and Pakistan. Every true Nationalist who believes in a truly Independent, Secular and United Jammu & Kashmir has faced these accusations, including Maqbool Bhat.
“The movement had never a direction that would lead us to attain national independence, because the ones claiming to fight for Kashmir’s Independence are actually fighting Pakistan’s war on our soil.” Qureshi told The Kashmir Magazine. “You are running ‘Tehreek-e-Ilhaqi Pakistan’ (Movement of accession to Pakistan) not ‘Tehreek-e-Azadi’, (Movement for National Freedom) claimed Hashim. “All these separatist politicians have taken Kashmiris hostage for their own interests. They have been telling lies and are working here for the cause of Accession to Pakistan.” Alleged Qureshi, who hit the international headlines in early seventies when he along with his cousin hijacked a Jammu bound Indian airbus ‘Ganga’ and flew it to Lahore, where it was later burnt by the ISI after the passengers and crew were released. Eminent personalities like KH Khursheed (President AJK and Personal Secretary of Mohd. Ali Jinnah testified numerous times under oath in Pakistani Courts that Ganga was burned by the ISI. The hijacking was masterminded and owned by Maqbool Bhat and was carried out under the banner of his JKNLF. Maqbool Bhat was later hanged to death in India several years after the incident.
Hashim Qureshi also accused separatist camp of producing figures of casualties based on no research or documentation at all. “They talk of freedom movement, but don’t even have the record of the people who sacrificed their precious lives for the cause. They should have the list of every event which they don’t” claimed Qureshi and added that saying, more than 90,000 died during two decades has become a frequently used cliché now. He also said, “It is irony that those who were killed in militant group clashes are also in the list of those who sacrificed lives for movement.” Said Qureshi. He alleged that the separatist leadership never reached out to the families of those who laid their lives for the cause. The actual figure of casualties is perhaps even higher, as with everyone person who died, a whole family died. It produced numerous widows and orphans, who were left to the mercy of God only. The groups or ‘leaders’ who spearheaded militancy did not have any kind of scheme or plan to take care of the casualties which emerged from the casualties of ‘the movement’ itself. The widows and orphans were forced to become wanderers in search of justice while they begged for basic necessities to live a life with dignity. In movements, the families of freedom fighters are honoured, respected and taken care of whereas in Kashmir their families were exploited and turned into beggars for livelihood and justice.
On Sajad Gani Lone
Hashim Qureshi said that Sajad had repeatedly said that he was never accepted by separatist camp, but added that he does not know, whether that forced him to join mainstream or there were some other reasons. He however, that every individual has right to aspire and take decisions that suits him. According to Qureshi not only Sajad, many others from separatist camp have joined mainstream, but since he was a high profile among them so got much attention.
His own Political Ambitions
Rejecting the possibility of joining the mainstream politics, Hashim Qureshi said he has definitely no plans to do so. “I have taken a pledge in front of Shaheed Maqbool Bhat and will never forget that.” Said Qureshi. He added, “Some called me agent, some said, I have come here to contest elections, but let me tell them that I have no intention to fight Elections. Although, I am a Kashmiri State Subject, during my struggle and exile, I acquired European citizenship. For the sake of argument, even if I would want to fight elections, I cannot as legally only Indian citizens can elections from Kashmir. I still am an European citizen. ” Said Qureshi.
On Afzal Guru
Terming Afzal Guru’s hanging as a ‘political’ casualty, Qureshi said that he was sentenced by Indian court and executed, but ironically the foundation was provided by the Kashmiri leaders. He said that now when Guru is no more our politicians ‘shamelessly’ still want to cash in on his blood. “Engineer is playing theatrics; let me ask him what relief he provided to Guru’s family by voting in favor of Ghulam Nabi Azad in RS polls. Azad belongs to that Congress which hanged Guru and sending him to RS by the same man who claims to be the crusader for the rights of Guru and his family is ironic and theatrics.” Said Qureshi.
Mufti Syeed’s statement on ‘separatist’ role in Elections.
Accusing Jamat e Islami of campaigning for PDP and Engineer Rashid, Hashim Qureshi said, “ If Jamat can help Er. Rashid against Sajad Lone, why can’t others do the same. He accused New Delhi of failing to appraise the mood of the people.
“When Mufti Syeed says it, he must have ample reasons to say it. GOI gets inputs from local policemen who don’t know anything. May be Mufti was generous in acknowledging the role of separatist and militants in elections.” Said Qureshi, adding that Pakistan wanted, that PDP should not enter into an alliance with BJP, as that would have deepened the alienation which suited Pakistan.
Professor Gani’s meeting with Mufti Syed
Stating that Prof. Gani was an ‘accidental’ politician, Hashim Qureshi claimed that he (Prof.) was never a separatist by conviction.
“This is a tragedy both for him and for the movement. He landed in the camp accidently. He was on way to join congress but landed in Hurriyat due to congress’ decision of providing ticket to G.R.Kar.” alleged Hashim.
Hashim Qureshi also took serious objection of the alleged highhandedness in the Jammu and Kashmir Bank and said, the Bank has been providing hundreds of lakhs to non-state subject Industrialists on less interest rate under a well-planned conspiracy and said most of the beneficiaries later turn defaulters, whereas the local poor man is given loans on higher interest rates with his entire property keeping as mortgage. “The bank has become a money mine for non-state subject industrialists.” alleged Qureshi, adding that the role of the chairman needs to be probed. He said, “ A Kolkata based company took 7 and a half billion credit from the Bank on 11% and are reluctant to pay back, whereas locals are getting loans @ 14% interest.” Qureshi demanded that the Bank which has more than 50% state ownership should not get hijacked for personal benefits and favours.
The people in Kashmir are facing economic hardships and the recent floods have only exacerbated their struggle for a life with dignity and honour. The JK Bank should be playing a constructive role in reaching out to the people in these times of economic malaise. The Separatist camp also needs to revisit their strategy and acknowledge that mere selling unfounded dreams of Azaadi, is not the solution to the daily lives of the people. These fraudulent dreams do not cater for education, medical treatment and basic livelihood. How long will the Kashmiri people suffer and be kept hostage by unfounded dreams which have turned their lives into a nightmares?
Both countries have engaged in numerous armed clashes including three large scale wars and neither country has been able to snatch even one inch of Jammu & Kashmir from each other. It is in the interest of India, Pakistan, the Kashmiri people and the Sub-continent in general if both countries realize that the only stimulus to peace in the region and economic advancement is if the people of Jammu & Kashmir are given their basic right to Independence. The only solution to this long standing issue is an Independent, Secular and United Jammu & Kashmir.