Srinagar: In their first reaction to the US State Department’s declaring Hizb-ul-Mujahedin chief Muhammad Yusuf Shah alias Syed Salahuddin a ‘Specially Designated Global Terrorist’ and imposing sanctions on him, an alliance of key Kashmiri separatist leaders on Wednesday said the move is “highly unjustifiable and regrettable”.
While the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), like other mainstream Kashmiri political parties, is maintaining silence over the US move for obvious reason, its coalition partner Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has welcomed it saying it should serve as an ‘eye-opener’ to separatists and gun-yielding youth of the Valley.
The separatist leaders- Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik- said that Jammu and Kashmir is a “disputed territory which was occupied by Indian illegally in 1947.”
They said, “Since the people of the State are peacefully engaged in their struggle for freedom through self-determination as promised to them by United Nations and supported by the US, the United Kingdom and the rest of the world community (sic).”
It further said, “Whereas it is incumbent upon the international community including the US to honour this commitment made to the people of J&K that they would be granted the right of self-determination to decide their future and seek the settlement of the dispute which is bleeding Kashmiris each day and has led to their genocide under brutal Indian occupation besides making J&K the world’s highest militarised zone with over eight lake Indian forces stationed here to keep the people captive”.
The alliance claimed that the people of Kashmir are “peacefully and resiliently resisting this occupation by a mighty military power and demanding their just right, despite the fact that all means and methods of resistance are barred to them by force”.
It said, “Their hope is that the international community which acknowledged and backed their legitimate right to self-determination in accordance with internationally accepted democratic norms and justice will always support their just struggle and eventually truth and justice will prevail.”
Justifying the sections of Kashmiri youth turning to the gun in 1989-90, the alliance said the same was a reaction to international inaction in resolving the dispute despite commitments and even after witnessing “unprecedented oppression against the innocent people”.
The statement said, “After feeling being pushed to the wall, some people took to arms to fight this brutal military repression and illegal occupation of their land, as a way to achieve freedom for it”.
The alliance said that the US has targeted a “veteran freedom fighter” under the Indian state influence and that same is “unfortunate and uncalled for”.
It asked, “While the US claims to espouse and stand for democratic principles of liberty and justice, how can it turn a blind eye on the brazen violations in this part of the world? What kind of double standard and opportunism is the US exhibiting especially when Washington has always acknowledged that the dispute in and on Kashmir has to resolved for peace and stability of the region and has, in fact, many times offered mediation between India and Pakistan on the same?”
The leadership said that “declaring ‘a Kashmiri freedom fighter’ as terrorist will not resolve the Kashmir dispute or bring peace. “What it can, however, do is to embolden Indian Government to further suppress Kashmiris and further increase the level of human rights violations being committed against them by Indian armed forces.”
Another prominent separatist leader Shabir Ahmed Shah said, “The US move won’t have an iota of negative effect on the Kashmir’s freedom struggle.”
He asserted, “By including Syed Salahuddin in the list of global terrorists, the US has found one more customer of its arms in India.”
He added that the “freedom movement” in Jammu and Kashmir does not need anyone’s certificate and that the Kashmiris “now realise that the US instead of eradicating the menace of terrorism and coming to the rescue of oppressed nations is backing the very people who are infamous for unleashing the state-sponsored terrorism in their occupied territories.”
He said, “Even Nelson Mandela was once upon a time declared a terrorist but later on conferred with the Nobel Peace Prize for his services.”
He added, “We’re duty bound to support the oppressed people across the world and their movements. While Indians take pride in their freedom hero Bhagat Singh, we also respect the heroes of our freedom movement. Syed Salahuddin is the hero of our Tehreek-e-Aazadi (freedom movement).”
He said it was ironic that few years ago, the US denied visa to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying he has blood of Muslims on his hands but now Washington sees a big customer of its arms in him.
Terming the “biased” mindset of the US President as ‘bad omen’ for the world peace, Shah said the people of Palestine and Kashmir have been struggling for their rights since decades but sidelining their movements and backing the governments of Israel and India tantamount to promoting the agenda of “Chengeziyat” (the traits and actions of Genghis Khan).
While the ruling PDP, is maintaining silence over the US move, its coalition partner BJP has welcomed it saying that it was long overdue.
BJP Srinagar-based spokesman Khalid Jehangir said, “Salahuddin has been responsible for motivating the Kashmiri youth to pick up the gun and tread the path of violence.”
He added, “The decision of the US should serve as an eye opener for separatists in Kashmir. If they don’t mend their ways they too can meet the same fate.”
According to the BJP spokesman, the world scenario is changing fast and there is no place for terrorists and terrorism. “Kashmiri youth who have picked up arms should realise that people like Salahuddin have ruined Kashmir and have been responsible for turning it into a graveyard,” he said adding, “It is high time for Kashmiri youth to choose life over death and give up arms.”
Pakistan had on Tuesday described as “completely unjustified” the US move and said it will continue its “political, diplomatic and moral support for the Kashmiri people”.
Earlier, Union Home Secretary, Rajiv Mehrishi, had said that Salahuddin was a “coward” who had “run away” to Pakistan. “What the US did is correct. He (Salahuddin) is a terrorist and he has now been declared so. This declaration by the US may probably help in impacting his movements and funding,” he told reporters on the sidelines of an event held in Delhi.
Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar had said in Washington that the designation was “a strong signal coming out of the administration that it is committed to ending terror in all forms”.
He said, “We should take the step for what it is. It is fixing responsibility, highlighting the problem. There is a signalling out of it, it is focusing on a particular group and particular individual. None of us can really miss that message.”...