Monday, July 16, 2007

Apology inadequate: Hurriyat’s bona fides unproven,from Statesman

The Statesman
Wednesday, Jun 27, 2007
History can never be re-written and verbal apologies are poor compensation for its ravages. While it would be unfair to blame the All Party Hurriyat Conference for the forced exodus of the Pandit community from the Kashmir Valley, it would be premature and silly to read much into the moderate (Mirwaiz) faction expressing regret over what was, in effect, ethnic cleansing. Though few dared describe it thus. Note that the “apology” was made at a World Refugee Day function: on such occasions propriety demands nice-sounding statements, for seldom do they promise any palliative follow-up. Note also that it was the group’s spokesman who made that gesture, and thus far there has been no public affirmation by the Mirwaiz himself. So even if Roots in Kashmir (a Pandit youth outfit) is impressed, and feels “sorry” is a step beyond “unfortunate”, it is inevitable that scope for scepticism abounds. A triad of demands of the Hurriyat has been spelt out by Roots in Kashmir, but it is difficult to accept that even with the best intentions the Mirwaiz could deliver. Simply because all fall within the government’s domain: re-building 15 temples, bringing to justice the killers of Pandits, and restoring their abandoned property. In fact the Congress-PDP alliance owes an explanation for having done so little in that regard. Is the “healing touch” only for those who have suffered because of the unavoidable crackdown by security forces which ~ it must never be forgotten ~ was in response to terrorist-triggered violence. What the Mirwaiz’s organisation can do to dispel doubts that its apology was routine, merely for the record, is to embark upon a programme to convince the populace that supporting militancy, willingly or under some duress, will not bring an end to what they deem “oppressive” conditions. Or bring back the Pandits. Those who are committed to azadi in one form or another can pursue that dream without banking on the indoctrinated jehadi’s Pak-supplied weaponry: that is the message the “moderate” Hurriyat must spread. Failure to do so will actually confirm another suspicion ~ that separatists and militants function in tandem.

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