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Yasin Malik’s conviction may end separatist politics

Rashtriya Bajrang Dal activists distribute sweets after a special NIA court convicted JKLF chairman Yasin Malik in a terror funding case in Jammu on May 19, 2022.

Rashtriya Bajrang Dal activists distribute sweets after a special NIA court convicted JKLF chairman Yasin Malik in a terror funding case in Jammu on May 19, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

The conviction and likely imprisonment of banned Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chief Yasin Malik, 56, in a terror funding case, will not only keep him off-the-scene but also completes the dislodgement of the main faces of the separatist spectrum in the Kashmir Valley.

The past 30 years of Kashmir's separatist politics was dominated by three names:  Tehreek-e-Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and JKLF chief Yasin Malik. 

Hard-liner Geelani died in 2021 at the age of 91 and his parent organisation Jamaat-e-Islami, the socio-religious group believed to be his ideological springboard, was banned in 2019 and is in a complete disarray. 

Similarly, the Mirwaiz has been kept out-of-scene too since the BJP-led central government put an end to J&K's special constitutional position in August 2019. The Mirwaiz remains under house arrest at his residence in Srinagar's Nigeen area and is even barred from his religious obligations as Valley's chief priest. His second-rung leadership and vocal cadre members remain behind bars. 

The Mirwaiz, a moderate face who advocates dialogue on Kashmir, has mostly worked with Geelani and Malik to spearhead agitational politics to push for a resolution to the Kashmir problem in the past. With both Geelani and Malik out of the scene now, the ability of the Mirwaiz, even if released, to galvanise street support has been enervated completely. 

With Mr. Malik, who advocated complete independence of J&K, arrested, his organisation banned and pro-Pakistan Geelani dead, this brings an end to the 29-year-old politics of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, a joint amalgam set up in 2003, to provide a political face to the armed rebellion in Kashmir.

End of negotiations

The flip side is that dislodging the complete spectrum of separatists has also squeezed the space of negotiations. Then JKLF 'commander', Mr. Malik in 1993 was among the first to open the doors of negotiations by engaging with American diplomats, like Robin Lynn Raphel, and informal interlocutors from New Delhi to end his four-year long militancy and decided to formally announce first-ever ceasefire. With Delhi opening up to Mr. Malik and allowed to travel to different parts of the country, Mr. Malik took a very contrasting path of the Gandhian-approach of non-violence to achieve his political goal, even though over 100 of his cadres died after the ceasefire. In fact, Mr. Malik's was a unilateral ceasefire that brought down the violence significantly in the Valley.

However, Malik earned the distinction among the separatists for his engagement directly or indirectly with all the regimes in New Delhi, including the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), to set a stage for a final settlement through the institution of dialogue. The U.S. is presumed to have played a role in organising a meeting between Mr. Malik and then Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) chief S.D. Sahay in 2000 when the NDA was ruling the country.

Though his role during the 'quiet diplomacy', a phrase coined by then Home minister P. Chidambaram, was acknowledged by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Mr. Malik was allowed to travel to Pakistan in 2005 in a bid to help and prevail over Hafiz Sayed and the Jamaat-ud-Dawa to give the dialogue between Delhi and Srinagar a chance in 2005, when both Islamabad and Delhi were preparing the ground for the four-point formula.

In fact, former National Security Adviser (NSA) M.K Narayanan engaged directly with Mr. Malik during the Singh rule.        With the separatist leadership, who would engage with New Delhi, fast fading from the scene and the militancy on the rise, the situation is back to 1992 where it was a gun versus a gun in Kashmir.    


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Printable version | May 20, 2022 1:05:16 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/maliks-conviction-likely-to-end-29-yr-long-chapter-of-hurriyat-politics-in-kashmir/article65430908.ece