Syed Ali Shah Geelani
Syed Ali Shah Geelani

In an exclusive interview with The Vox Kashmir, pro-freedom leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani talked about the walk out from ‘The News Hour’ hosted by Arnab Goswami Editor-in-Chief, Times Now. Geelani said he (Arnab Goswami) was provoking me to say something in a rush that might give him any single chance to tighten my neck regarding these false claims which he wants to thrust on me.

TVK: Was it the right decision to walkout from Times Now show? Arnab Goswami said you don’t want to face questions about your Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) links?

SAS Geelani: Let me tell you that Arnab Goswami was not behaving like a professional journalist. He was provoking me to say something in a rush that might give him any single chance to tighten my neck regarding these false claims which he wanted to thrust on me. But I didn’t do any such thing. He was posing the same questions many a times. He behaved like activist in the show who was speaking on the behalf of government, with his angry accent of asking me these questions made it all clear.

Mr Arnab also tried every attempt to create confusion among the audience. He tried to thrust his views upon me but he failed in doing so, still I answered his questions patiently. But when he started to pose same question over and over again trying to malign in a way, my family members couldn’t control their emotions and then I walked out from the show. I had answered all his questions in a proper way and sitting there and listening to his false claims was not what felt to me resulting in my walkout from his show. That show was a preplanned conspiracy against me.

TVK: Arnab said that you, Syed Ali Shah Geelani recommended the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) terrorists for Visa to Pakistan who were planning blasts in Delhi? How do you react to his claims?

SAS Geelani: Look, we all know that half the Kashmiri’s are now residing in Pakistan after partition or during the insurgency in early 90’s. They crossed over to other part of the Line of Control (LoC) and many of them now want to see their beloved ones and family members. Hurriyat or Syed Ali Shah Geelani is not that person who will not allow anyhow these persons to meet their family members. We only recommend the people for visa but passport is issued by the government, so how can they blame me for this.

Passport is issued after the proper verification by security agencies, and then I give a Visa letter to the person but only when he is given a green signal from the Indian authorities. Now how can they allege me of giving a visa letter to a militant? It is a sheer conspiracy against me to defame my personality among the masses either in Kashmir or outside Kashmir which they are now doing from decades but have failed till now.

TVK: Media reports say that you may be questioned for LeT links by Delhi Police? Your views on this?

SAS Geelani: It is not a new thing for me and I am ready for questioning by any of the Indian agencies whenever they want me to. I have proved them wrong many a times.

TVK: During the past, many Kashmiri students were linked with some militant outfits and charged with many false cases but then some were later released and some are still behind the bars? Now as thousands of Kashmiri students are studying outside Kashmir do you think that Kashmiri’s are safe outside the state?

SAS Geelani: [Laughs] It is an admitted fact that a common Kashmiri has never been nor will be safe in India. You see yourself; students get attacked in many places across India. Actually they think these are those people who are against our country and the other reason for this harassment of Kashmiri students outside Kashmir is the ideology made by the government and its agencies against Kashmir which makes every Kashmiri feel insecure in India.

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Yes, many of innocent Kashmiri students, businessman and even tourists have been booked behind bars with false claims from past few decades and they are still doing it. Police raids are being domain place where Kashmir’s are living in large numbers. They harass Kashmiris as they suspect them anti-Indians and militants and I condemn that. The Indian media which I openly say is the cheapest media particularly the electronic media is portraying such an image of Kashmiri that every other person thinks us like second Osama Bin Laden.

But my dear innocent Kashmiri brothers and students residing outside Kashmir should not succumb to these false claims and conspiracies. We all are witness to the two young persons from Lal Bal namely Mirza Iftikhar and Mirza Nissar who were arrested in 1996 regarding Lajpat Nagar blast. They were innocent but still spent their half-life in Tihar Jail and when they were released in early 2011 the Supreme Court and the government of India apologized them and said a mere “Sorry”. What can a sorry do to them now? Their career is ruined and they now want to do same to the other Kashmiri people outside valley.

TVK: Recently a news report was published about Hurriyat (G) that you are engaged in talks with Government of India. What you have to say about that news story?

SAS Geelani: I totally deny that news report. It was baseless and a story which was done by that person who has vast experience in the field of journalism made me disappointed. Some stories are planted and the main motto behind these stories is to defame the Kashmir cause and Hurriyat leaders in public. Whatever I have done or said was always publicly and if people now don’t understand that the man who is fighting against injustice and illegal oppression from past 55 years is honest. Then when will they? Is it then, when I will be in grave and then they will come to my grave to say that now we trust you?

TVK: Why did you meet BJP leader Ram Jethmalani and actor turned politician Shaturgan Sinha who is against the separatist leadership in Valley?

SAS Geelani: Our many political prisoners are languishing in different jails of country. It was a small private function where I talked about the prisoners including Dr. Qasim Fakthoo, husband of Dukhtar-e-Milat’s patron Syed Asyia Andrabi. Earlier their families have requested to these lawyers that they should take their cases. So what is wrong in meeting these people who can take the cases of political prisoners? And talking about Shaturgan Sinha, I still don’t know who that person is. I don’t know why media gave such hype to that incident. It was just a coincidence that a person came to me and had a hand shake and left. After that I came to know that he was Shaturgan Sinha.

TVK: Dr. Farooq Abdullah recently said that Afzal Guru should be hanged? What is your take on that?

SAS Geelani: It is nothing new from Dr. Farooq Abdullah. He is giving such statements from long time. He is the man who said during early 90′s that don’t bring people into the jails. Shoot them on spot. So how can you expect any positive statement from this man? But still one thing related to Afzal Guru is that he didn’t get fair trial in the court and he was not involved physically in this attack and he has every right to justify himself.

TVK: The government authorities also blame that you provoke public particularly youth to instigate violence in Valley? How do you react to it?

SAS Geelani: I have never been the sponsor of violence in Kashmir; in fact our movement is peaceful and will always remain peaceful. I can recall an incident back in 90’s which I have also penned down in one of my books titled “Maqtal sey Waapsi” which I wrote when coming back from Ranchi Jail. It clearly mentions that during a funeral procession of some civilians, who were burned to death, a person was chanting slogans in Iqbal Market Sopore against Indian Constitution and I myself felt that this particular slogan didn’t carry the message which we wanted to convey. The slogan was “Aag lagado, Aag lagado. Bharat ke aivanon mein” (Burn down the Constitution houses of India).

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I stopped that youth and others also not to say these slogans and this incident is dated back to early 90’s when militancy was at its peak. This shows how peaceful our movement is and do I instigate violence or not.

TVK: In that particular interview Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari asked you about the high voter turnout in previous elections irrespective of boycott call by Hurriyat (G)? Where do you rate his statement?

SAS Geelani: Common people back in Kashmir have voted for Bijli, Pani and Sadak. But they don’t understand that it hampers the cause of Kashmir dispute. The people have also voted under the barrel of guns but government of India linked every election with Kashmir dispute and wanted to show the international community that people of Kashmir are with them which is not true in any sense.

TVK: Are you giving any boycott call for municipal elections which are going to be conducted in April this year?

SAS Geelani: I am coming to Valley on March 10 then I will be able to say something about this. We will have a joint meet regarding this matter to discuss the further course.

TVK: Has Indian government ever approached you to compromise over Kashmir issue?

SAS Geelani: Yes of course, they have tried it many times. They wanted to corrupt me but always failed to shake my faith. During 2003 elections then IB Chief Avinash approached me on 24th April and asked me to moderate my thoughts regarding India but I clearly objected. Before leaving, he said that he was unable to convince me and after few weeks when I said the same thing at a gathering in public they arrested me and my family members including Iftikar Geelani (A well-known Journalist from valley). There are many occasions when they tried to buy me but how can we forget our 6 lakh martyrs who laid their lives for the same Kashmir cause.

TVK: Hurriyat (G) is not strong at grass root levels in Kashmir Valley. Any particular reason behind this?

SAS Geelani: As, you know hundreds of Hurriyat workers are languishing in jails and I myself was house arrested for a long time. I was not even allowed to participate in funeral of daughter’s father-in-law in Sopore and I was not even allowed to attend my grand daughter’s Nikkah. I was stopped many times to address the public gatherings at many places so this is the main reason that Hurriyat is weak in some far flung areas. Every Kashmiri does support the Kashmir cause but these areas are under the cover of arms day and night and this is also a big reason that they can’t show their support for us. But it is not so weak, we have committees working on district levels and they are working day and night to raise the standard of Hurriyat at grass root level throughout Kashmir.

TVK: In future will you participate in any dialogue regarding Kashmir issue?

SAS Geelani: There has been almost 155 dialogue processes in the past on Kashmir issue but we all know what has happened till now. It was back in 1948 when UN passed a resolution regarding Kashmir issue and India accepted Kashmir being a disputed territory. They even promised every single Kashmiri citizen for right to self-determination but on the ground reality they have failed to fulfill their promises. They should fulfill their promises regarding Kashmir which include “Right to self-determination”. And this is all we want from India.

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