'Message from Kashmir is clear. We want freedom'
The fragile peace in Kashmir valley came to a violent end on June 11, when 17-year-old Tufail Matooo was killed by a teargas shell fired by security forces.
Since then, the valley has been in the throes of an endless cycle of violent protests, death of protestors in firing by security forces, shutdown by separatists, curfews by authorities and rhetoric by politicians.
The violent protests, which have shaken up New Delhi, are allegedly being spearheaded by separatists like Hurriyat leaders Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Syed Ali Shah Geelani.
Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, chairman of the moderate faction of the All Party Hurriyat Conference, had an exclusive chat with the readers of rediff.com on Wednesday, September 22, where he spoke about the rationale behind the separatists' renewed war cry for azaadi.
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Image: Mirwaiz Umer Farooq
'Kashmir is not like any other state of India'
TheHindu asked, Why not allow Kashimirs to settle anywhere in India and any Indian to settle in Kashmir? Kashmir is just our another state.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq answers, You have to get your facts right. Kashmir is an international dispute recognised by India and Pakistan... It was India who took the issue to the UN and promised the people of Kashmir their right to self-determination. Kashmir is not like any other state of India; it continues to be a dispute unless its people decide what they want.
As asked, Dear Mirwaiz, if you are given azaadi from India what would happen to the Pakistan Occupied Kasmir and China Occupied Kashmir. Will you try to bring azaadi in those countries as well?
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq answers, Kashmir means the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir as it existed on 14th august 1947, when we say the right it includes Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh, Azad Kashmir and northern areas
'It is time that the people of India are told the truth'
Zuber asked, Mirwaiz Ji will you take revenge of 110 innocent Kashmiri civilians died in the CRPF and Indian Army firing. If yes how?
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq answers, we are fighting a just struggle, it is time that the people of India are told the truth about Kashmir.
Our fight is not against people of India but the Indian state and its policies of suppression and oppression. Our aspirations are not different from the aspirations of united India when it was fighting the british raj
indian army asked, What will you consider yourself as ? 1) Kashmiri, 2) Indian 3) Pakistani
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq answers, Kashmiri
'I am not an Indian nor a Pakistani'
kamal jeet asked, Hi suppose security forces are removed from residential area will u still protest?
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq answers, it will help to bring normalcy on the ground but removal of AFSPA and demilitarization are just CBMs, the real issue is the resolution of the Kashmir issue.
It has to be in accordance with the wishes and aspirations of its people. The message from Kashmir is loud and clear that we want freedom
arpit asked, Mr Mirwaiz... Do you proud be in Indian or anti-Indian (Pakistani)...
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq answers, you have to understand if we ask for a peaceful solution to Kashmir. You should not get offended. Kashmir is about its people not only the land. I belong to the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir. I am not an Indian nor a Pakistani
lmk asked, tell me one thing what you and your people want?
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq answers, the right to decide our future
'It is time India keeps Nehru's promise'
trivenn asked, It's all fault of Nehru. Instead of pushing back the occupiers and free Kashmir, he made a virtual borderline called LoC.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq answers, It was Nehru who promised our people at the historical Lal Chowk that people of Kashmir will be given their right. It is time India keeps its promise
Jan asked, Why u not follow Mr Geelani points
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq answers, Geelani saab is now asking for the same points which we have given to the Govt of India 5 years back... it is good that the entire leadership is now asking for the same thing
hamid asked, you have given 4-point suggestions to the GOI to improve the ground situation in Kashmir. But the government has not taken any of the suggestions seriously. Don't u feel if the suggestions were heeded the situation would have improved considerably.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq answers, yes I believe that if our suggestions are accepted a situation will arise when all the parties to the issue India, Pakistan and people of Kashmir can start a process of dialogue. But unless the killings stop and India acts on our suggestions our peaceful protest will continue
'The other side of Kashmir is a part of us'
Suman asked, Is it true that the UN resolution talks of either being with India or Pakistan? There is no freedom option in it?
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq answers, it is true but if you talk about the UN charter it gives the people of Kashmir an open choice? That is why the Hurriyat believes that it is either the implementation of UN resolutions or tripartite talks which can take us towards a solution
karmiripeople asked, Hello Farooq, Could you tell me your educational background?
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq answers, I am just about to complete my Phd
Parveen asked, Please clear us the situation of PoK... Why there is no awaaz from u people about the freedom of PoK?
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq answers, well I explained our position on the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir. The other side of Kashmir is a part of us. Kashmir is a human problem rather than a political problem -- a line has been drawn not across the land but the hearts of Kashmiri people. It is time we are united.
'Was Gandhiji misleading people when he was asking them to fight?'
sumeet asked, Mr Mirwaiz, stop misusing innocent Kashmiri youths, behave like a civilized person and help in establishing peace.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq answers, when India was fighting for its freedom, was Gandhiji misleading the people when he was asking them to fight for their birthright
sallu asked, if given an option will u let Kashmir go to Pakistan bcoz Pakistanis openly say that Kashmir is ours?
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq answers, it does not matter what India or Pakistan say it is the people of Kashmir who will decide what they want. We just ask that let our decision be respected
p asked, Mr Mirwaiz, Kashmir is a part of India and will remain in India even after 10,000 years
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq answers, I request the educated people of India to accept that you cannot forcibly hold people against their will. Kashmiris have suffered a lot. We have lost more that 1 lakh people in the last 20 years. It is time that Kashmiri aspirations are accepted. We are seeing how the powerful US is not able to suppress the voice of Iraq or Afghanistan
'Pandits are an inseparable part of Kashmir'
raoamar asked, Who is the Kashmiri? You people or with migrant pandits or both? Where were you when over 4 lakh pandits were thrown out from J&K?
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq answers, Kashmiri pandits are an inseparable part of Kashmir. We want to live together and have always been urging for their return. We will continue to do so
vaibhavvishal asked, Dear Mr Mirwaiz, I have heard that the Kashmiris in PoK are leading a miserable life under Pakistani rule? Is this true? Why do you feel attracted towards such a state?
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq answers, If that was so why are they not rising against Pakistan? Let's us stop this propaganda. The fact is that Pakistan recognises the right of self-determination and Pakistan's support is not conditional that only then will they support Kashmir if it accedes to Pakistan. They support that let the people be given a free choice, including those people who are under their control of Kashmir
jairavi asked, What Kashmir is unrest? When all the support has been extended towards them?
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq answers, Man dies not live by bread alone if you take away our dignity and kill our 8-year-olds in broad daylight. Do you expect that we will be all praise for India? We don't want economic packages or jobs or incentives we just want our freedom
'You have to accept the will of the people'
chandu asked, Each and every state in this country is having one or the other problem, but at the end of the day we all are Indians. The major part of your problem is that you don't consider Kashmir to be a part of India
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq answers, Kashmir is not just any other state. You have more than 23 resolutions of UN calling for the right of the Kashmiri people. It is the same UN where India wants to get a permanent seat at its security council. How can they ask for that when India does not abide by its own commitment?
sallu asked, hi Mirwaiz do you feel that kashmiris have a future if they accede with Pakistan than India after assessing the current situation and the history of Pakistan and do you really feel the need for azaadi?
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq answers, Let the people of Kashmir decide. If India claims to be the world's largest democracy, how can they just use force? We have more than 7,00,000 troops in Kashmir, the world's highest concentration of military presence. We cannot solve the issue by force ...you have to accept the will of the people.
kep asked, hi Mirwaiz.. I am from Kerala. Who r u to decide Kashmir people's future? You all PDP, Farooq and fundamentalists are terrorists
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq answers, It is unfortunate that the people of India don't know the truth about Kashmir. I am sure if you come to Kashmir and see for yourself how the land of ours has been converted into a military camp. You will yourself realise who the terrorists are.
'We truly felt let down as India has just been trying to buy time'
kaffir asked, Mr Mirwaiz, I have a question for you & I dare you to answer. Why do Kashmiris pelt stones, protest & attack the police when some kashmiri is killed at the hands of an Indian jawan knowingly or unknowingly? But if the terrorists kill tens or scores of kashmiris at once, there is absolutely no protest?
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq answers, We have always condemned innocent killings. I just ask you, do you know how many innocent kashmiris have lost their lives in the last 3 months; More than 107 and how many Jawans of army or CRPF by stone pelting -- not a single.
virendrav asked, Mr Mirwaiz, how would you say Kashmir wants freedom where average 65 per cent turnout in all elections in Kashmir?
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq answers, the parties who fought elections are today themselves saying that they never fought elections to resolve the Kashmir issue, but only to provide basic amenities like bijli, sadak, paani (power, road and water) to the people. The Hurriyat has always maintained that elections can never be a substitute for the right of self-determination.
pratham asked, You went for talks but all they did was undermine your credibility among the people of Kashmir. Do u feel betrayed by the GoI?
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq answers, yes, we truly felt let down as India has just been trying to buy time
'I am a sufferer as are the common Kashmiris today'
javeed asked, Umar you think that whatever you are doing is good and I am telling you by talking about 1 crore Muslims you have forgotten that there are 25 crore Muslims in India. Your deeds have affected our day-to-day life
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq answers, It is not a question of Hindu or Muslim, the Muslims of India got a chance to decide their future in 1947 and they chose to be with India. We want them to live with honour and dignity as Indians. But we were denied that right. Every Indian whether Hindu or Muslim should support us in this just struggle
Niraj asked, what about our children.... why do you put them on street to join the stone pelters?
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq answers, All those who are fighting for the cause of freedom are my children
W asked, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq ... Where were your son and daughter and brother, sisters I am sure your son will be in UK doing MBA your daughter must be married well settled in Canada.. your sister must be in Dubai, Sharjah having big business.. your brother must be in south Africa having his big business please confirm
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq answers, It is sad to know that you don't even know the basis of the Kashmir problem, it is not about the leadership, it is about the people. I was 16-year-old when my father was killed when the Indian troops fired on a funeral procession, killing more than 70 people. I am a sufferer as are the common kashmiris today
'If India and Pakistan can get their freedom, why not the people of Kashmir?'
FoolishHawk asked, Freedom of Kashmir is a Fools Dictat. Why do you keep chanting such Pakistani tunes?
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq answers, Freedom is our birthright. If India and Pakistan can get their freedom why not the people of Kashmir?
surendar asked, do you feel that fighting in the name of jihad in all parts of the world is spoiling the name of your religion and your god?
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq answers, Kashmir is not a religious problem, it is a political dispute and unless the people are given their right our just struggle will continue
BillGates asked, Mr Farooq, please tell me one good reason why you want to have freedom from India? Are you not getting the same benefits as any other normal citizen of this country? In fact, you are getting more than normal individual in India? Why is a need for freedom? I believe Kashmir was, is and will be part of INDIA ...all the best though
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq answers, if I give you all the benefits of this world, but put you in a cage will you take that?
farhaan asked, When people are dying and protesting for azaadi, the government of India says that give peace a chance but when there is so called peace they say that everything is fine and there is no issue in Kashmir. Don't you feel that the government is trying to have the cake and eat it too?
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq answers, yes I agree with u
'Kashmir can survive being independent'
pakis asked, Do you think the "AZAADI" is practical for Kashmir? Can Kashmir survive being independent?
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq answers, why not? Kashmir is bigger in area than 67 countries of the world. Today we have natural resources, tourism etc
FoolishHawk asked, Freedom of Kashmir is a Fools Dictat. Why do you keep chanting such Pakistani tunes?
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq answers, For god's sake, don't always view Kashmir from a Pakistani prism. It is not about what Pakistan wants, it is the fight of the people of Kashmir. How many Pakistanis have been killed in the last 3 months? Not one, but we have lost our children and our youth to state terrorism
Niraj asked, What about your children.... Why don't you put them on street to join the Stone Pelters?
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq answers, all those who are fighting for the cause of freedom are my children
chints asked, Never saw u in crowd with other youngsters. Why don't u be brave and lead them from front not behind? Why don't you come in front and face the army. You want the young people to help you to reach to Pakistan and encourage terrorism
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq answers, On Eid, lakhs of Kashmiris gathered at the historic Lal Chowk on my call; I was leading them. Since the past 3 months, I have been kept under house arrest, but whenever I get a chance, I am always with my people.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq says, Try to view the Kashmir issue as a human being and not as an Indian or a Pakistani. Allah bless you all.