The arrest of a range of Hurriyat leaders on Monday signals a hardening of the Centre's stance. It appears that a decision has been taken at the highest level to show no quarter in the face of an extremely ominous triad of challenges, which includes China, Pakistan, and Kashmiri separatists.
Those arrested are mainly from the Geelani camp, including his son-in-law Altaf Ahmad Fantoosh. The most prominent of those arrested is Naeem Khan, whose revelations in a sting operation set the stage for the NIA’s investigations.
The other two prominent figures in the trio of 'separatist leaders’ have not been spared. Shahid-ul Islam, a very close aide of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, was arrested too. So was Farooq Dar, alias Bitta Karate, who has been a prominent member of the JKLF, which is led by Yasin Malik. The screws are thus being tightened on all the factions of the main separatist conglomerate. It is possible that the independent MLA from Langate, (engineer) Rashid Ahmed might also be in the sights of investigators.
Those who conducted the sting interviews of Naeem, Bitta Karate and another minor separatist had also interviewed Rashid. The legislator evaded their trap by telling the interviewers that he did not need their money.
Rashid has upped the ante recently. In a statement issued over the weekend, he explicitly called for a plebiscite and for third party intervention by countries such as the US and China. The statement, which targets Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and the Centre with strong rhetoric, went viral and was extremely popular in Kashmir.
Crucial pressure points
It appears that the pressure which the Government of India exerted through the NIA investigations were used to ensure that the GST Act was implemented in the state. A statement from Geelani helped to smooth the way for that. For weeks, his associates had not been interrogated by the NIA since they were detained by the J&K Police.
The investigations also contributed to ensuring that the first anniversary of militant commander Burhan Wani’s killing on 8 July 2016 passed off relatively calmly. Many had feared that it would become the trigger for another period of mass unrest such as followed for four months after Burhan was killed. Some analysts might have hoped that the Centre would use the pressure exerted through the investigations to bring the 'separatist leaders’ in line.
Now that they have been carried out, the arrests show that the government has decided to push forward its hard line. Sources say that Union home minister Rajnath Singh had told the chief minister when she met him about ten days ago that the government would not go easy on the separatists.
A range of leaders in the Kashmir valley had nevertheless got the impression that the stage was being set for talks between India and Pakistan on one hand and between New Delhi and a range of Kashmiri leader on the other. They appeared confident that the Government of India would turn flexible in the face of the obvious Chinese threat.
A range of Kashmiri `leaders’ seemed to be hopeful that talks would ensue, even though Pakistan had made it clear early this month that it was unwilling to engage with India unless Kashmiri separatists too participated in the talks, a scenario India was very unlikely to accept.
This hope-filled environment regarding talks was a major reason why there have been few dramatic militant encounters since the attack on Amarnath yatris. Some prominent separatist figures indicated that not only the trio of Hurriyat leaders but militant groups too were on board, which could only indicate that Pakistan had given them all the thumbs up.
Updated Date: Jul 25, 2017 07:13:49 IST