The Joint Resistance Leadership on Tuesday said that arresting leaders and activists in their ranks including women and shifting them to outside prisons was actually a Delhi’s bid to push the leadership to surrender. They said arrest spree and slapping the leaders with “fictitious charges” can’t make the leaders bow before Delhi’s might and the efforts for Kashmir’s peaceful resolution will continue on all fronts.
The leaders were speaking at a seminar organised by the JRL comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik to commemorate the completion of one of resistance leaders arrested on July 24 by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
The seminar held at Abi Guzar area of Srinagar was attended by a large gathering that includes civil society activists, traders, lawyers and intellectuals. Members form the Pandit and Sikh community also addressed the day-long seminar held in a make-shift tent where pictures of Kashmiri prisoners had been put up on the walls.
On July 24, 2017, NIA and ED arrested separatist leaders and a businessman that included Shabir Ahmad Shah, Altaf Ahmad Shah, Shahid-ul-Islam, Ayaz Akbar, Peer Saif-u-ullah, Meraj-u-Din Kalwal, Farooq Ahmed Dar, Zahoor Ahmad Watali, Nayeem Ahmed Khan, Muhammad Aslam Wani and Shahid Yousuf.
In his speech over telephone, Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani, who wasn’t allowed to attend the seminar as he continues to remain under house arrest, said: “Kashmiri prisoners are our heroes. I salute their courage, bravery and resilience. They are facing threats of various natures. Recent death of a prisoner Noor Khan is an eye opener that Kashmiri prisoners aren’t safe in jails.”
Geelani said that Kashmir used to be known as a paradise on earth till mid eighties.
“But Delhi let loose a reign of terror here and this beautiful region into a hell,” the ailing leader said. “I want to tell this gathering that we can’t ever forget the contributions of our prisoners. Those who were arrested by NIA on the same day last year, were presented before the court on July 17 and the height is that their trial has been deferred till September.”
Geelani urged people to identity their weaknesses and to correct them. “Time is not far when people will once again seek votes from you. That is your test and you have to stay away from the votes which are used as a referendum by Delhi. It’s time to prove that we don’t want to vote and instead want end of oppression,” he said.
Geelani said arresting people and booking them under fake charges can’t break the resolve of people of Kashmir. “We have braved all odds and will face this too. We will succeed and for that we need to be steadfast,” he said.
Chairman Hurriyat Conference (M) Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who was placed under house arrest since Sunday evening, couldn’t make to the venue. He also spoke to the gathering over phone. “Arrests, detentions, harassments is nothing new in Kashmir. These things were taking place since 1990. The only change we saw is extension of draconian laws from time to time,” he said. “Earlier, we had POTA, TADA and gradually we saw AFSPA and PSA and who knows what else is in store.”
He said New Delhi pursued the police of repression through its agencies and started a mass crackdown on the separatist camp. “It’s been one year since the arrest of resistance leaders, who have committed no crime other than to seek the political resolution of the issue. These arrests were extended to lawyers and even businessmen and today, women too were made part of this arrest spree campaign,” he said. Mirwaiz, who is the key member of JRL, said that the basic purpose of raids and arrests by the agencies was to instill fear among the resistance camp and to force them into a submission.
“They (agencies) involved our family members to intimidate us, but didn’t succeed. Then they claimed that youth and leaders were hitting streets for monetary benefits, something they failed to prove,” he said.
Today, Mirwaiz said, voices are being raised within India about the credibility of these “very agencies.” “The fact remains that today, Kashmir’s fourth generation is involved in the ongoing movement. Our woman leaders like Asiya Andrabi and her two aides Sofi Fehmeeda and Nahida Nasreen were booked under a fake case and lodged in an outside jail, which is an irony,” he said.
Mirwaiz said that the actually Delhi has “lost its battle in Kashmir.” “Delhi has realised that its military might and iron fist policy has failed on all fronts,” he said. “The more Delhi would use its military might, more our resolve to fight it would get strengthened.”
In his address, JKLF chief Muhammad Yasin Malik said that the arrests made by the NIA were nothing “but an act of kidnapping.”
“NIA failed to produce the substantial evidence against those it arrested. The irony is that FIR into the case for which Dukhtaran-e-Milat chief Asiya Andrabi was booked stands lodged here and yet she was shifted to a prison outside the State,” he said. “Isn’t it surprising that FIR against Andrabi is here and trial is taking place in Delhi.”
Malik said that the operation all out launched the forces wasn’t not only against militants but also the ”Kashmir’s pro-freedom camp”. Later talking to reporters, Malik hinted at evolving a consensus for observing a day in memory and solidarity with the prisoners every month. “We can’t remain silent over the plight of prisoners. Leadership will sit and discuss whether a day be fixed every month in solidarity with the prisoners,” he said.
Earlier, separatist leader Shabir Ahmed Dar urged the United Nations to send its special representative to Kashmiri prisons for taking on the spot inspection of condition of prisoners. “The irony is jail manuals aren’t being followed when it comes to Kashmiri prisoners,” he said. “In Kashmir, the supreme court of India’s directions are being violated when it comes to prisoners. There are clear cut directions that under trial prisoners need to be lodged in the prisons closer to their homes.”
A Kashmiri Pandit leader Sampat Prakash while condemning the arrest of DeM chief Asiya Andrabi said: “What else can be the sacrifices of a nation where woman are lodged in jails outside their state. Asiya is similar to Jhansi Ki Rani and her contribution is supreme for us.”
A Sikh leader, Narender Singh Khalisa said that Kashmiri people have been bearing the brunt of atrocities. “Since 1947, people of Kashmir have been facing atrocities from the rulers. It’s high time for the United Nations to take stock of the situation in Kashmir,” he said and extended full support to JRL. Separatist leader Bilal Sidique had earlier, put forth a series of suggestions including observing a day in solidarity with the prisoners every month. The seminar was moderated by JKLF leader Sheikh Abdur Rashid. Others who spoke on the occasion include columnist Abdul Majeed Siraj, representatives of Dukhtarn-e-Milat, separatist leader Tariq Ahmed Dar, and many others.