-Prof. Rasal Singh

The reality of the All Party Hurriyat Conference, a pro-Pakistan separatist organization operating in Jammu and Kashmir for the last three decades, has come to the fore. For a long time, Hurriyat Conference has been involved in anti-India activities at the behest of Pakistan. It has been a major source of funding to terrorist organizations. Their modus operandi involves raising funds in the country and from abroad through various illegal means and channels, including hawala, for separatist and terrorist activities in J&K. Recently, some other shocking details of their murky dealings have also surfaced. A probe into the granting of MBBS seats to Kashmiri students by institutions in Pakistan indicates that the money collected from aspirants by some organizations/persons were found to be the part of the Hurriyat Conference conglomerate.

The quota of Hurriyat Conference was fixed in various educational institutions of Pakistan and professional courses like medical-engineering. On the ‘recommendation’ of Hurriyat leaders, students from Kashmir were admitted to these institutes and courses in Pakistan. Hurriyat leaders used to collect huge amounts by selling these seats allotted to them at the rate of Rs.15-20 lakh per seat. The major portion of the money thus collected was channelized to camouflage the transactions to ultimately land in the pockets of anti-India and militancy related activities and elements in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir. It was not only utilized for financial aiding of terrorist organizations like Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hizbul Mujahideen and Dukhtaran-e-Millat operating in Jammu and Kashmir but the funds collected were also used for causing disruption in the Kashmir Valley by pelting stones on security forces, systematically burning schools, damaging public property and waging war against India as part of their criminal conspiracy. The bust of this “seat racket” is appalling. It’s just like making a hole in the plate you’re eating! This revelation has once again proven Pakistan’s involvement in terrorist incidents and creating unrest in Jammu and Kashmir.

For well off families, Rs.15-20 lakh was never a big amount. They happily used to provide the said amount for a course like MBBS. Apart from collecting the money, the Hurriyat Conference leaders intended to gradually raise a large group of educated, professional, and high-ranking people as Pakistan’s supporters in Jammu and Kashmir. They also encouraged economically weaker families to send their children to Pakistan by alluring them with a promise of cheaper and affordable education there. This facilitated infusion of religious and anti-India poison in the clean minds of these youths studying in Pakistan.

Thus, a massive conspiracy to keep Jammu and Kashmir in constant turmoil and to create an atmosphere of violence and terror was hatched. Pakistan on the other hand used this to its advantage by crying false bloodshed, atrocities and human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir in various international forums. However, the reality is that most of these incidents are Pakistan-sponsored. Further, the admission data of the last two decades clearly shows that 30-50 seats in professional courses like MBBS annually were purely on the “recommendation” of Hurriyat Conference. One cannot deny the fact that financial transactions form the basis of these recommendations. Apart from this, every year about 300 other students were also sent to Pakistan in the name of affordable education. Some youths were also sent on student visas for training in terror camps operating in Pakistan Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (Ghulam Kashmir) where they were trained to work for terrorist organizations operating in Kashmir. A “triangle” constituting Hurriyat Conference, Pakistan and terrorist organizations was active in an organized form against India. For a long time, this “triangle” has been waging an undeclared war against India.

The investigation also brought light to the fact that the prolonged turmoil in the Kashmir Valley following the killing of the dreaded terrorist Vurhan Wani at the hands of Indian security forces in July 2016, was a sponsored one. More than five crores earned from the above sources were spent on its orchestration. Wahid-ur-Rehman, the blue-eyed youth leader of PDP President and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, was the kingpin of these riots. He had a pivotal role in funding the security forces’ stone pelting, arson, sabotage, bandh-demonstration etc. His intimate links with terrorists and terrorist organizations have also been confirmed and he had been in jail for a long time. It is unfortunate that Mehbooba Mufti has not even suspended him from her party, rather is advocating his misdeeds. In this backdrop it is pertinent to point out that on the lines of Hurriyat Conference there could be many more mainstream political leaders working in connivance with terrorists’ outfits. If investigated properly another angle will be exposed and valley’s “quadrangle of terror” will be revealed sooner or later.

The Hurriyat came into existence in 1993 with 26 groups, including Jamaat-e-Islami, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, Dukhtaran-e-Millat, Jammu and Kashmir People’s Conference, Awami Action Committee, Jammu Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party, Ittihad-ul-Muslimeen, Islamic Studies Circle, Muslim Conference, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, Students Islamic League, Anjaman-e-Tablig-ul-Islam etc. The name of the different groups which are a part of this organization clearly suggests them being a narrow communal minded organization of the people of a particular religion. It is worth mentioning that the Arabic word Hurriyat means “freedom or freedom from slavery”. The nomenclature itself is suggestive of the real plans of this separatist group which aspire freedom from India. Some of the groups in associated with Hurriyat want the merger of Kashmir with Pakistan, while the others are in favor of independent Kashmir. Their underlying policy is anti-India and their strategy is that of unrest, disturbance and terror in Kashmir so much so that they even call the Indian armed forces state-terrorists. Strikes, demonstrations and sabotage against the Indian government have been their routine.

Their aim is to internationalize the Kashmir problem under the guise of human rights violations, unrest and violence in Kashmir. This serves as a political mask for terrorists as the international community does not recognize violent activities. They are the hiders and advocates of terrorists. The separatist conglomerate broke into two fractions in 2003 due to conflict of interest and distribution of booties. The most aggressive and hardliner faction towards India, called Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, is headed by Syed Ahmed Shah Geelani while the relatively moderate faction is headed by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. The factions may have become two, but there is no major difference in their anti-India activities. They have also been boycotting the political process in Jammu and Kashmir. These self- proclaimed representatives of the Kashmiri Awam intimidate, entice, lure or deceive  commoners  of Kashmir. They have essentially made it a condition to hold talks with Pakistan before any talks with the Indian government. They themselves have been taking instructions from Pakistan before such talks. The sad part is that before 2014, various central governments helped them unknowingly by giving them unnecessary importance. The continued ignorance of the governments towards anti-India activities, further propelled their high-spirits.

On May 30, 2017, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) started an investigation by registering an unnamed case against some Hurriyat leaders. The case was registered against the leaders who had collusion with the notorious terrorist organizations operating in Jammu and Kashmir. The case also involved an investigation into the collection of funds through various illegal means and providing them for the anti-India activities of terrorist organizations and miscreants. After conducting a thorough investigation in the same case, while filing a charge sheet in the year 2018, the NIA found that Hurriyat Conference leaders were collecting money by selling seats of educational institutions in Pakistan and then using that money to encourage unruly and terrorist activities to destabilize and weaken Indian State. In February 2019, the NIA raided the houses of Yasin Malik, Shabbir Shah, Mohammad Ashraf Khan, Masarat Alam, Zafar Akbar Bhat, Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s son Naseem Gilani and Asiya Andrabi etc. In these raids, 18 separatist leaders were arrested after finding objectionable material and evidence.

A case related to seat-racket was also registered by Jammu and Kashmir Police (CID Wing) in July 2020. Four people, including Mohammad Akbar Bhat, chief of the Salvation Movement, an organization affiliated with the Hurriyat were arrested thereby reaffirming Hurriyat’s money-raising and terror funding activities by selling the seats of Pakistani institutions. Earlier, at the behest of the state governments, the police used to keep a blind eye to the actions of the separatists. However, things have improved and there has been a qualitative improvement in the ability and efficiency of the Jammu and Kashmir Police under the Lieutenant Governor’s rule.

The crackdown on these separatist organizations and breaking the back of terrorist organizations by the present central government of India is a welcome initiative. Their financial sources have been sealed. Many separatists are in jail and terrorists are “with the Hoors in Paradise”. On the same lines, the hired stone pelters and miscreants are also being clamped down. People involved in such activities will not be given ‘clearance’ by the police for passports and jobs. Government servants who acquire education from Pakistan and are engaged in anti-India activities are investigated and sacked. The decisive initiative of the Government of India has been a nightmare for the terrorists and separatists.

The condition of the separatists is miserable and perhaps that’s why they have not been able to protest against the historic decision of August 5, 2019, despite their own will and a lot of pressure from Pakistan. Had this been any other time, they would have raised the sky on their heads and turned the entire Kashmir valley into  a bowl of fire and blood. The material evidence collected so far has established the alleged involvement of secessionist and separatist leaders, including the leaders and cadres of the Hurriyat Conference. The Central government is most likely to ban both the factions of the Hurriyat under section 3(1) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, or the UAPA by issuing a notification, declaring such organization to be unlawful. It is indeed a long-awaited move by the government for peace, prosperity, development and change in Kashmir. It is necessary to ban the organization(s) involved in such heinous anti-national activities and the arrest of their masters.  Breaking the separatists’ network and spirits will make the task of digging the graves of terrorists easier.

(The author is Dean, Students’ Welfare, Central University of Jammu.)