The Hurriyat continues to justify terrorism

As long as there is terrorism, India must fight it

The India prime minister’s talks with the Hurriyat left most quarters smiling. Why, Dr Manmohan Singh made good on his promise to review the cases of those booked under anti-terrorism legislation immediately after the talks. But the churlish charlatans were at it again — they expressed public displeasure at the Jammu & Kashmir’s state government’s move to arrest leaders of a virulent outfit that has been terrorising ordinary Kashmiri women. And the Hurriyat is taking up cudgels on behalf of a decidedly odious character on the Kashmiri scene reveals that for all its ‘moderation’, it remains a proxy, supporter and apologist for terrorism.

The reason that India is engaging the Hurriyat is not because it is, as it claims, a genuine representative of the Kashmiri people. It is not. The real reason why the Hurriyat is being engaged is because it is a representative of those Kashmiris that favour secession. Engaging secessionists in talks, even if they are unelected, is arguably acceptable in a democratic country. But if the ostensible representative of secessionists refuses to condemn terrorism then there is little reason for the government to treat it with any respect. During its meeting with Dr Manmohan Singh, the Hurriyat continued to equate the violence perpetrated by terrorists and the violence that results from attempts to stop them. After its meeting, it matched actions to its words by defending Asiya Andrabi and her goons, who have recently stepped up their attempts to impose Taliban-like conditions on Kashmiri women. It is quite clear that the Dukhtaran-e-Millat timed its latest campaign of thuggery to coincide with the meeting between the Hurriyat and the prime minister. By taking the bait, the Hurriyat has shown, yet again, where it stands with respect to terrorism. For good measure, they called Asiya Andrabi a ‘freedom-loving leader’.

Elected governments — whether in New Delhi or in Srinagar — will be failing in their duty if they allow terrorists and thugs to challenge the rule of law. The Hurriyat may not notice the irony of championing respect for human rights even while condoning the actions of those who see no wrong in their violation. Given its credentials, that is understandable. But it will be totally another thing for the Indian government to allow terrorism and criminality, in any form, to go unpunished. Too bad if the Hurriyat cannot accept this.

Related Links: Even as the Indian Express hails this week’s talks as achieving a breakthrough, it Praveen Swami considered note of caution provides a much better perspective.

3 thoughts on “The Hurriyat continues to justify terrorism”

  1. Nitin, just out of curiosity, are there any parties in Kashmir that you’d consider negotiating with? I mean, there’s got to be somebody–you can’t just wish the problem away, even if Pakistani interference ends magically tomorrow. I thought some Hurriyat leaders were as moderate as they came. (Of course, caling Ms. Andrabi a ‘freedom-loving leader’ is repugnant beyond measure.)

  2. raven,

    India is a democracy. So there is little reason to for its government not to have consultations and discussions with a wide variety of public opinion; even with secessionists, supporters of accession to Pakistan, religious fundamentalists of various stripes, communists or any other group of people. Indeed, these groups do not even have to swear to abide by the Indian constitution. But there is one important caveat: they must not resort to violence. There is little reason for a democratic government to negotiate with a group (or a country) simply because it threatens and conducts violence.

    Simply negotiating with a terrorist group (or its proxy) is already a concession. Conducting negotiations over political demands of those who threaten violence is not only wrong but is also counterproductive. It reduces the incentives for other groups to pursue their political ends peacefully.

    In my opinion, the most important precondition for negotiating with the Hurriyat is no so much insisting that this be conducted under the aegis of the Indian constitution, but that it be conducted only after the Hurriyat unequivocally renounce terrorism, violence and armed struggle.

    Again, in a democratic setup, power comes from the polls, not out of a loudspeaker or the barrel of a gun. Whoever desires to represent the people of Kashmir must prove that the people want them as representatives. Legitimate negotiations can only be conducted with elected representatives. The Hurriyat must prove itself at the polls before it can be a legitimate negotiating partner.

    Finally, as this editorial from the Hindu argues, there is an urgent need for India to make talks with the Kashmiri people more broad-based. The Hurriyat is by no means the sole representative of Kashmiri opinion, although it is the loudest. With its terrorist friends, it has managed to intimidate and silence other voices. There are several shades of opinion in Jammu & Kashmir, the Hurriyat is but one.

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