New Delhi, Aug 20 Even before India abrogated Article 370, many of Kashmir’s top separatists were either put under detention or house arrest. It was a smart pincer move to ensure that these rogue elements didn’t raise Cain and manufacture trouble as is their wont.
In a calibrated and systematic intelligence agencies run operation coordinated by NSA Ajit Doval in conjunction with the newly appointed Union Home Minister Amit Shah, all these malevolent separatists were locked down, cutting the head of the snake to ensure that control of ground zero remained with the Valley’s security apparatus.
Many wonder where are Syed Ali Shah Geelani and company, as Kashmir increasingly appears to embrace the changed political reality. The dragnet necessitated that the hawks were put under detention, so that they did not foment trouble and this has worked like clockwork.
S.A.S. Geelani, the senior-most Hurriyat ideologue, has been kept in the confines of his two-storey Hyderpora residence. Someone who gave many a shutdown calls before and after terrorist Burhan Wani was gunned down by security forces in 2018 is now left incommunicado at his house. Meanwhile, his son-in-law Altaf Fantoosh is lodged in Tihar jail in Delhi for his anti-India activities, a case lodged by NIA making his life miserable.
Meanwhile, another top Joint Resistance Leadership separatist leader Mirwaiz Omar Farooq, who is facing a money-laundering investigation, is in his Nigeen Lake residence. His wife Sheeba Masoodi along with his daughters are, however, safely away in the United States.
Interestingly, Mirwaiz, who is also the head of the Jamia mosque in Srinagar, didn’t spew any anti-India venom after the Friday prayers as many expected. To the contrary, he has reportedly chosen to sermonise about drug abuse, leaving many to wonder whether he too has toned down his rhetoric. But leopards don’t change their spots and the house arrest may have had a sobering effect on him.
Yasin Malik was a dreaded name at the height of militancy when he presided over ethnic cleansing of Pandits from the Valley and gunned down four Indian Air Force (IAF) personnel in cold blood. He was a part of the notorious HAJY gang comprising Hamid Sheikh, Ashfaq Wani, Javed Ahmed Mir and himself who were also election agents of Muhammad Yusuf Shah aka Syed Salahuddin who won (but was declared lost) in the infamous 1987 ‘rigged’ election.
The election was systematically rigged under the watch of the Congress and Salahuddin picked up arms. In the following years, they were instrumental in the abduction of Rubaiya Sayeed, daughter of then Home Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. The nation paid heavily to secure the release of Ms Sayeed in exchange for 13 terrorists.
Most of the HAJY gang members are dead today and Malik is lodged in a high-security cell of Tihar jail in Delhi. Malik, along with Hamid Sheikh, Ashfaq Wani and Javed Ahmad Mir, formed the core group — dubbed the “HAJY” group — of the JKLF militants in the Kashmir Valley.
The enormity of popular support received for their call for independence surprised them. Within two years, the JKLF in the Valley emerged as the “vanguard and spearhead of a popular uprising” against the Indian state.
The JKLF waged a guerrilla war with the Indian security forces, abducting Rubbaiya Sayeed, the daughter of the then Indian Home Minister, and targeting attacks on the government and security officials.
In March 1990, Ashfaq Wani was killed in a battle with Indian security forces. In August 1990, Yasin Malik was captured in a wounded condition. He was imprisoned until May 1994. Hamid Sheikh was also captured in 1992 but released by the BSF to counteract the pro-Pakistan guerrillas. By 1992, the majority of the JKLF militants were killed or captured.
Asiya Andrabi is a burqa-clad, venom spewing chief of Dukhtaran-e-Millat, an outfit that advocates jihad. She calls herself a self-described “Islamic feminist” but in reality, she heads an organisation that the Government of India has declared as a terrorist organisation. She too is in Tihar jail right now facing the music, along with two of her aides.
To give company to Malik in Tihar, there’s Shabbir Ahmed Shah, another Hurriyat leader. Having spent 31 years in jail already, Tihar may seem home to this separatist leader who in 2008 infamously took part in “Muzaffarabad Chalo” march in Pakistan occupied Kashmir.
Masarat Alam is the General Secretary of Hurriyat Conference. In 2010, he played a crucial role in stone-pelting in the Valley that injured many security personnel. At different times, he has had as many as 27 criminal cases lodged against him and the count simply doesn’t stop. Someone who had proudly said “I’m a stone thrower since childhood” is right now kept in the notorious Kot Bawal jail in Jammu under the Public Safety Act. Soon after the BJP-PDP alliance came to power, Alam was controversially released by the then Chief Minister Mufti Mohommad Sayeed blind siding the BJP.
Meanwhile, other players like Abdul Gani Bhat is kept arrested in his Wazir Bagh residence. Maulana Abbas Ansari, the Shia leader in the Sunni dominated ecosystem of Kashmir, has been a vocal anti-India voice. Right now he is in Chhattabal.
Bitta Karate or Farooq Ahmed Dar was a name that evoked strong fear in the nineties. Someone who had accepted on television interviews of killing multiple Kashmiri Pandits to enforce an ethno centrist genocide is today a prisoner in Tihar.
Nayeem Ahmed Khan, the Chairman of Jammu Kashmir National Front and provincial President of All Parties Hurriyat Conference, is another vitriolic speaking machine who is now booked under money laundering charges and giving company to his fellow jihadists in Tihar. He is the same man who was stung in an operation where he had accepted that he used to get money from Pakistan to fuel unrest in the Valley, even if that meant burning down of schools.
Kashmir has been a playground for these forces all these years. They had the audacity and wherewithal to abduct the daughter of a sitting Home Minister of the Union of India, and could unfurl a Pakistani flag on 14th August and release videos from unknown locations in the Valley espousing Islamic jihad. Today all of them are either behind bars or left cut off in their homes as Kashmir and Kashmiris welcome a new dawn of hope, opportunity and equality.