Banning Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front
Umair Pervez Khan
Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, a pro-independence organization of Jammu and Kashmir State, headed by moderate Yasin Malik is banned by Indian State on the pretext of being the “supporter of militants” in the valley. The organization formed in the 1970s has a long history and a complex one too. It had been the advocate of using militant ways to achieve its goal (Azaadi) in its constitution during its primitive stage, but later it abandoned the use of violent means practically. For this shift in the strategy of the organization in the early 1990s, it faced division and several factions came into existence.
To be precise, the organization shifted to non-violent political means for achieving its objectives in 1994. Amanullah Khan, the founding member of the organization resisted against the decision of young Yasin Malik to change the strategy for the accomplishment of their goal of “Azaadi” as International Law allows the subjects of the land to use any means to resist against the occupational forces. JKLF being the political party of Jammu and Kashmir state reserves the right of armed struggle but Yasin Malik did not alter his mind and worked on a new approach, ultimately leading to severe differences between two leaders.
Resultantly, Malik’s opinion prevailed in his faction and organization was split into two strong groups led by Khan and Malik respectively.
Since then, the leaders of the faction led by Yasin Malik have always avoided and openly negated any relation with the “militants”. Post 9/11 situation further strengthened the stance of the organization and its policymakers stuck to the plan. Following the approach, Yasin Malik opted for a democratic mean of getting maximum signatures by the residents of Jammu and Kashmir, urging International community, particularly both India and Pakistan for the resolution of the Kashmir conflict. The long signature campaign starting from the year 2003 comprised of the leaders of the Hindu community as well.
Post Burhan Wani killing, Malik reiterated his stance and asked for the opening of dialogue between India and Pakistan. He maintained that dialogue is the only way for the resolution of Kashmir conflict and Kashmiris must be the part of this process else it will yield no result. Making his stance more evident, in a letter to USA, written on July 1, 2017, Malik confessed overtly that he was persuaded by US, UK, and European envoys to take the most unpopular decision of unilateral ceasefire endangering his life and lives of his colleagues in 1994, but “despite all odds by Indian forces to push me back on the path of violence, I stood firm to my decision”, he stressed.
Now, this decision of banning a large political organization in the conflict zone is not a wise one but a blunder. The policy makers sitting in Delhi must understand that the youth that follows JKLF has shifted to non-violent means due to the firm stance of its leadership who has joined hands with other political organizations and formed a coalition in the name of Joint Resistance Leadership. For the sake of argument, if the organization decides to move back to its original position of using aggressive and violent ways for gaining their objective then it would be no less than a nightmare for people of Kashmir.
In another decision, the Indian state has also banned the religio-socio-political organization Jammat-e-Islami and has arrested hundreds of its leaders. The valley has seen protests and strikes on the banning of both the organizations. In my opinion, protests will escalate in coming days as the situation in the valley has yet not pacified, post-Pulwama episode. The youth has been under severe repressive measures of Indian forces for a long time and now the time has come when the transformation in the insurgency techniques are visible. The banning of internet and communication blockade even is not stopping the youth to carry on its protests because the limits have been crossed and the situation has come to “do or die.”
Different leaders including Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, the Chairman of Hurriyat Conference’s faction, has condemned the act of banning political organizations. Joint Resistance Leadership has also issued a statement which considers this act as “highly authoritarian, autocratic and pure political vendetta”. The former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir and Chairperson of People’s Democratic Party (PDP), has also shown concern over these developments and has tweeted that “ban will turn Kashmir into an open-air prison.”
Keeping in view the history, it must be understood that in present circumstances, shrinking political space for the youth will ultimately compel them to switch to violent means to resist. Kashmir movement is a democratic movement and lets India understand that banning the political organizations will not do any good for India itself rather will provide a reason for more violence in the valley. This indifferent attitude of the Indian state has led this whole region to be the hub of violence and tension. The international community will have to play its role otherwise one day the lava of hatred, anger, mistrust, and deprivation of the right to self-determination of a nation will put this South Asian region into flames. These kinds of measures may help Modi to campaign for his political gains but will surely not help people of Kashmir nor the people of South Asia.
The author is an MPhil graduate in International Relations. Currently visiting lecturer at International Islamic University, Islamabad. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: Views expressed are exclusively personal and do not necessarily reflect the position or editorial policy of Oracle Opinions.