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INTERVIEW: Molvi Abbas Ansari
‘‘Advani amnesty to boost freedom struggle’’ 

Molvi Mohammad Abbas Ansari, a senior Hurriyat leader heads Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen. Known for his pro-Pakistan leanings, Ansari is the lone member in the executive council of the All Party Hurriyat Conference who holds a degree from a madrasa. He is seen as one of the most rigid personalities in the amalgam that has been spearheading struggle for independence in the J&K. S Ubaidur Rahman met him recently for an interview. Excerpts-

Has Agra summit been of any help to your struggle?
Indo-Pak dialogues are essential for the early resolution of Kashmir issue. Both the countries, India and Pakistan are nuclear power, so it is essential for both the countries to sit on the dialogue table and sort out the problem as soon as possible. Agra summit was just a beginning. The summit internationalized the Kashmir issue afresh. It is a great success for Kashmiris and their cause.
It is essential for both the countries to continue talks. They will have to create an atmosphere of trust. This mutual trust will help both the countries come closer. Agra was the first step, they will have to continue talking.

Can you foresee an early resolution of the Kashmir issue?
Resolution of the J&K issue is essential. Early resolution of the tangle is important not only for Kashmiris but for the whole world. The world powers will have to intervene in the issue and the early it happens the better.
South Asia is known among the most dangerous zones in the world. Solution of the Kashmir issue will not only help ease the tension in the area but also lead to eventually fast development here as well.
Kashmir has already been destroyed. It has lost 70000 lives in the struggle and more and more lives are being sacrificed every day. Here every woman is unsafe, be it two year-old girl or 90 year-old lady. Thousands of our youth are missing. Their fate is unknown. No one knows their whereabouts. We can satisfy our self about the people who lost their lives, but what about thousands of those whose fate is unknown. As a Muslim I believe that these sacrifices will be rewarded and the issue will be solved.

Do you see the solution in going with Pakistan? What about thousands who want to live with India?
We have been assured of our right to chose our fate by the United Nations and India. We should be given the right. It is possible that people may eventually decide to live with India. But we should be given the right. We want to be given a free hand as assured by the UN and India to choose the options of going with India or Pakistan or to go it alone.

Where does the APHC stand today in the J&K? Why you are shying away from contesting polls in the Valley?
Hurriyat Conference is the sole representative of the Kashmiris and everyone recognizes its role.
We are ready to fight the polls provided these elections are monitored by international monitors. Elections here have always been rigged and it was even admitted recently by none other than the Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. What is the use of contesting the polls if you are sure that the polls are going to be rigged and result manipulated?

It is said that Hurriyat is only a paper tiger?
There is a proverb commonly used in Kashmir-dogs bark and the work continues. It applies to everywhere. No such struggle for independence has ever been praised by anyone. It has received only criticism and brickbats.
You see we have been demanding that elections be held under international monitors. Now Farooq has also made the same demand. Ask Farooq why his father held hostage the whole state for 22 years? Even Farooq himself was claiming that all is not well in the J&K and was shouting openly against the atrocities and discriminations in the Valley, but when Rajiv Gandhi made him the state chief minister he forgot everything. And since he is governing the state under central government's patronage, he has forgotten what he was demanding earlier and is trying to suppress the struggle.
We have a mass base in J&K. Our popularity needs no proof. It is evident from our support among the masses.
Gandhiji and Nelson Mandela did not fight elections. Even Yaser Arafat did not fight one. But their popular support among people was accepted by all. We do not boast of our popularity but it is for everyone to see.

Is Hurriyat real representatives of Kashmiris or Hizb or other separatist organizations?
They are our children. Their is no difference between us. They have been cheated and we are all sympathetic for them.

If the government starts talks with Hizbul Mujahideen and other such organizations will there be any relevance of Hurriyat?
We are concerned with results (Aam Khane se matlab hai). If the government talks to them and result is positive, then we will welcome the result. But we want a permanent solution of the Kashmir issue.

Suppose you get through, will Kashmir not go the Afghan way?
Kashmir and Afghanistan are two different cases. Kashmir will never go Afghan way.

What about the controversy on Purdah (veil) issue?
Islam does not favour suppression. We are totally opposed to the threats given on purdah. People cannot be forced to act on anyone's dictate till the sharia rules are implemented.
But their is a deep-rooted suspicion also. We do not know who is behind the acid attacks on girls and enforcement of purdah. We never heard the name of Lashkar-e-Jabbar. It may be anyone.....

What about home minister LK Advani's amnesty offer to Army personnel and police on human rights violations?
The proposal is aimed to give total freedom to the security personnel to do whatever they want with no fear of punishment. It will be a license to kill and rape. They are already free, the new proposal will give them absolutely free hand.
But instead of harming the independence in the Valley it will give the freedom struggle a boost as even those people who are not in favour of our demands will be forced to rethink their stand. It will strengthen the struggle in Kashmir and help the cause of the separatist movement in the Valley and elsewhere.
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