Kashmir's Joint Resistance Leadership faces rifts within as more 'disgruntled' separatists approach Dineshwar Sharma for dialogue

If New Delhi’s aim was to create cracks within the separatist leadership in Kashmir Valley by going hard against one section using National Investigation Agency (NIA) raids as an alibi and offering a carrot to another so that dialogues are held behind the curtain with the "disgruntled lot", it may have largely succeeded in doing so.

Now, the Centre’s point man on Kashmir, Dineshwar Sharma, is likely to hold dialogues with those separatists who are not part of the united front of Hurriyat Conference led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani known as Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL). Three most important leaders in Hurriyat Conference who head their own parties earlier are today united under the umbrella of Joint Resistance leadership. The leadership, which includes Geelani as well as Yasin Malik and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, has been opposing any dialogue with Delhi, arguing that the killing of Kashmiri youth and the parleys with interlocutor Sharma cannot go hand-in-hand.

During his second trip, Sharma met three mid-rung separatist leaders during the middle of the night inside a colonial shaped house on the Gupkar Road, sources have told Firstpost. Bhat himself has confirmed the meeting, saying that there’s “nothing wrong” since Hurriyat leaders have met delegations and leaders from Delhi in the past as well.

 Kashmirs Joint Resistance Leadership faces rifts within as more disgruntled separatists approach Dineshwar Sharma for dialogue

File image of separatist leaders Yasin Malik, Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. AFP

But the man who is holding the JRL together came down heavily on “those who believe it was the right time to indulge in talks with the Government of India”.

Malik, the chairman of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), who is the man behind the idea of JRL, was the first one to shun the gun after an insurgency erupted in the state. It was he who had floated the idea of combining different Hurriyat parties and bringing them under one roof, sending jitters both in Islamabad and New Delhi.

On Wednesday, he said those who believe — indirectly referring to Professor Abdul Ghani Bhat of Mirwaiz faction of Hurriyat Conference who met Sharma — that this is the right time to hold dialogue with New Delhi are “living in a delusion”.

“Who is against dialogue?” Malik asked addressing a gathering inside Farooq's residence during a conference.

“I have met everyone. Haven’t I said I have met RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) members? I have met Leftists and Indians across the board, even the prime minister,” he added.

Malik looked visibly angry as he made pointed comments towards those who are allegedly working towards holding a quiet dialogue with New Delhi.

But surprisingly, a few hours later, another middle rung leader from Mirwaiz's Hurriyat faction, Javaid Ahmad Mir — also chairman of his faction of JKLF (Haqeeqi) — sent his resignation, saying the leadership (Mirwaiz) has "lately disappointed me".

With the resignation of Mir, who once appeared on the cover of the Time magazine holding a rifle in his hand (and often referred to as the the living Che Guevara of Kashmir), there is a likelihood of more resignations of small leaders in Hurriyat Conference coming forth in coming days, according to sources.

The Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz expressed surprise over Mir’s resignation.

“Mir neither informed the forum nor the chairman (Mirwaiz) about his decision or the reasons behind it, but straightaway went to the media where he ambiguously mentioned about some so-called 'ideological differences' without elaborating what that meant,” a statement issued by the organisation said.

Mirwaiz said no one was against dialogue on Kashmir. "It should be sincere, meaningful and result-oriented dialogue. On the one hand, you start a dialogue, and (on the other) killing of youth continues. We are not allowed to pray. Geelani sahib is under house arrest for many years now and is not even allowed to offer Friday prayers. In this scenario, what is a dialogue process for?" Mirwaiz asked.

A few days back, Mir, while talking to Firstpost, had said that the Hurriyat leadership had to walk the extra mile in order to hold dialogue with Sharma because that is what people in the Valley wanted. “Sometimes if you are not able to make hard choices, why would you be called a leader,” Mir said, adding, “There is no other way except engaging people in dialogue, India, Pakistan and the leadership of the Valley."

It is this group of leaders who Sharma is likely to hold talks with initially. A list has been prepared already by Sharma's office on the logistics of how and where the talks will be held. They are likely to happen out of media glare.

But sources said that New Delhi has advised Sharma to keep engaging the youth of the state for some "fruitful outcome" and holding dialogues with the separatists will be facilitated by Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s office in Delhi.

If New Delhi manages to get the disgruntled lot from the Hurriyat Conference and starts a dialogue with them, it is for sure going to create further fissures in the separatist camp. What remains to be seen is whether or not Malik would manage to keep the JRL floating in the rough sea ahead.

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Updated Date: Dec 09, 2017 11:42:52 IST