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Masarat Alam’s case: Are the separatists in Kashmir given too much importance?

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By Harshmeet Singh

The ghosts of his decision to release the Kashmiri separatist leader Masarat Alam have come back to haunt the Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. The executive orders to set Alam free last month raised many eye-brows. The BJP itself was among the critics of the decision (although the saffron party did hardly anything apart from verbal criticism!). Now in less than 40 days of his release, Alam was today arrested, perhaps raising the question – why was he released at the first place?

Separatists Masarat Alam and Syed Ali Shah Geelani were found raising pro Pakistan (and anti India) slogans at a rally in Srinagar on Wednesday. Organized to welcome Geelani back to the state, the rally saw Pakistani flags being hoisted by the youth attending the rally. The BJP’s response, as in the previous case when Alam was released, was nothing more than verbal criticism. “We are not part of the government to give space to those shouting pro-Pakistan slogans there,” is what BJP’s General Secretary, Ram Madhav had to say. But as the facts stand today, BJP is indeed a part of the same government that gives space to people shouting pro-Pakistan slogans!

Allegedly regarded as the mastermind behind the stone throwing protests in the state in 2010, Alam is seen as the heir apparent to Geelani at the Hurriyat. Denying any wrongdoing, Alam said, “There was a welcome programme for Geelani. Some youth had (Pakistani) flags there. Why should I be held responsible for it?” Despite years of negotiations, the separatists haven’t changed their stance an inch – to ‘free’ the state of Jammu & Kashmir from the Indian ‘rule’.

Who are the separatists anyway?

Pakistan’s reasons behind calling the separatists ‘actual representatives’ of the state are solely based on the latter’s anti-India stand. Frequent meetings between the Pakistani officials and the separatists have also signalled at the growing bonhomie between the two parties over the years. Oblivion to the basic needs of the youth in the valley, the separatists have carried on with their political agenda over the decades. Decades of needless violence along with frequent natural disasters have left the youth furious and disappointed. Increasing literacy among the youth in the state has led to an eroding supporter base for the separatists over the years. Rallies, such as the one on Wednesday, are a ‘show of strength’ by the separatists more than anything else.

Are we treating them too well?

Our ever so hospitable nature towards these separatists hasn’t helped our cause one bit. A number of these separatists are, in fact, provided security on the Government’s expenditure! There have been allegations (from the BJP MLAs themselves!) that the state Government is spending funds worth crores for the security cover, special vehicles and other facilities that are being provided to the separatists.

Such favours from the state Government aren’t surprising at all, considering that the state’s newly sworn Chief Minister thanked them and Pakistan for ‘allowing’ peaceful elections in the valley!

Rajesh Gupta, BJP MLA in the state, said, “I had put a question on the details of security cover of separatist leaders and money spent by the state government on their security annually. But my question was deleted and no answer was given to me,”

Responding to the claims, the Hurriyat spokesperson, Shahid-ul-Islam said, “The government in the recent past has made a false revelation that it is spending crores of rupees for the security of the Hurriyat leaders and that there are a total number of 1476 separatists which come under this category.”

He further added that ‘only’ eight separatists are provided such protection. “It is Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Prof Abdul Gani Bhat, Maulana Abbas Ansari,  Bilal Gani Lone, Aaga Syed Hassan, Faz Haq Qureshi, Saleem Geeelani and myself,” he said.

The mere speculations of a separate township for Kashmiri Pandits in the state saw the separatists calling for a shutdown in the valley. Such were the protests that the CM had to make a statement in the assembly, saying that there are no such plans in the pipeline.

A Two party conflict or three? 

Pakistan’s insistence towards making Kashmir a three-party conflict is an open secret. India, on the other hand, sticks to the Simla Agreement and Lahore Declaration signed between the two countries. One of the major outcomes of the Simla agreement was – “Both countries will ‘settle their differences’ by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations”.

Current situation

Masarat Alam and Geelani have been charged under the Ranbir Penal Code and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for their activities during the recent rally. But more than anyone else, they themselves would be aware that any conviction by the judiciary would take years. And with an ever friendly government at the realm, any serious conviction seems a distant reality.

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Kejriwal’s Door to Door Donation Drive is a Farce: Munish Raizada

Chanda Bandh Satyagraha makes an appeal that AAP should immediately restore donors' list on its website and then only seek new donations.

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Dr. Munish Raizada along with his Chanda Bandh Satyagraha team outside the office of AAP MLA Jarnail Singh (Tilak Nagar). File photo

Chicago: The Aam Aadmi Party Convener and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal has launched a door to door campaign seeking donations for the AAP.  According to former overseas co-coordinator of Aam Aadmi Party, Dr. Munish Raizada, this is nothing more than a misleading campaign!

Raizada says that Kejriwal has no moral right to seek donations from common man as he has dismantled financial transparency in AAP by removing donors list from its website. Displaying donors’ list showing real time donations and making the income and expenditure accounts available online were the basis and the promise of the AAP, emphasised Raizada.

Now, after hiding donors’ list and its balance sheets from the public, the AAP cannot claim to be practising alternative politics.

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Lack of financial transparency in the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP prompted a group of NRIs, who once worked to mobilise funds and support for the party, to turn against it. (File photo)

It may be noted that AAP removed the list of donors from its website in June 2016. Moreover, since then AAP has been surrounded with controversies related to donations. AAP had also received Rs 30.67 crore Income Tax notice, last year in November, implying that all is not well with AAP’s accounts, says Raizada.

He further questions Kejriwal, that if AAP has nothing to hide about its accounts and if AAP is honest with its account keeping then why is Kejriwal hiding the donations?

Even the donation policy that was earlier the pride of every AAP volunteer has been done away with. The donation policy on AAP website used to state: “Every single rupee donated to the party will be published on the website immediately along with the details of the donor. Every expense done by the party will also be published on the website.”

But rather than putting the donors’ list in public domain, the party’s corrupt leadership started blaming BJP and I.T. Department for harassing its donors.

 

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Chanda Bandh Satygrah demands restoration of  lost values in AAP ( File Photo)

 

Opaque political funding is the fountain head of corruption. Further, Raizada says that if the party cannot be transparent in its political funding, then talking about fighting corruption and graft is a mere rhetoric. He said that the appeals by Chanda Bandh Satyagraha have fallen on deaf ears as far as the party’s

leadership is concerned. 

Chanda Bandh Satyagraha makes an appeal that AAP should immediately restore donors’ list on its website and then only seek new donations. Chanda Bandh Satyagraha was started by AAP’s volunteers in 2016, with an appeal to the public not to donate to AAP unless it makes its donation lists open and transparent.