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This year in June, Sheikh Irfan’s viral video and his outburst against the resistance leadership at a condolence meet of Kaiser Amin evoked more heat than light with regard to the question of resistance and Hurriyat’s role. As soon as the video was shared on social media, Indian ‘nationalist’ media, taking video as a witness, blamed Hurriyat for the colossal human tragedy in J&K.While running the footage of this video, the news channel hashtags were altogether horrendous. For example, the hashtags were “Uprising against Hurriyat begins”, “Most powerful message from Kashmir” “One Kashmiri has spoken for a billion plus Indians and has hammered the Hurriyat leaders”, “Greatest rejection of Hurriyat’, ‘A Kashmiri confronted the Azadi cheats’,  ‘Real Kashmiri vs Hurriyat”, “Video a turning point in Kashmir”, “Hurriyat shown the mirror” etc. This recorded video indeed became icing on the cake for the Indian government and its propagandist media who left no stone unturned in scandalizing and demonizing the whole Hurriyat leadership specifically SAS Geelani.

The repertoire of his contention that revolved around the dichotomies in the policies and politics of Hurriyat leaders demands to be seen in a broader perspective. His patronizing monologue at a condolence meet recorded by an aide and then its wide circulation was a brazen attempt to delegitimize the Hurriyat and push through an anti-Hurriyat narrative. It was aimed to run passions high in a precarious situation when it was not proper for the delegation members to rebut the invectives (given the nature and occasion of the meet). Constructing anti-Hurriyat narratives have been a favourite past-time exercise of the state and its surrogates. These narratives, however, lacked public reception because of state’s own legitimacy crisis. Therefore, from time to time, new voices- ‘authentic voices’ that are clothed in Islamic jargon and emerge from ‘public’- are experimented by the state to counter the dominant narrative of Hurriyat who have a strong constituency in the valley. Although, I don’t suggest that the video clip was necessarily made at the behest of the state but it unwittingly served its purpose.

Surprisingly, the boy tried to clear some air in another video in which he gives clarification and complains that he was misquoted and misrepresented. He also said that he considers Hurriyat as his family where he expects to express his grievances. But in the whole discourse, we miss a point. What was the fun of making a video of his grievances and then sharing it on social media when he really considers Hurriyat his family? Why he particularly singled out and named SAS Geelani when many other Hurriyat leaders also congratulated the daughter of Shabir Shah?

Anyways, my point of contestation is not against the criticism of leaders. Every individual has a right to disagree and criticize but the criticism should be grounded in some logic and facts. Castigating the incarcerated leadership for not attending every funeral is ludicrous, to say the least. Those who spend every day with their family and children target Shabir Shah’s daughter for being a student of a Convent School. How ungrateful are these so-called ‘freedom seeking people’ who fail to understand the pain of a daughter who has seen her father for the most part of her life in prisons? Is it unacceptable for this class of people to see the children of resistance leaders leading a normal life?When Pakistan was about to take birth as a nation, some religious fanatics who supported the new nation had reservations with the western mannerisms of Mr. Jinnah. Before anything could be resolved they wanted him not to bring Fatima Jinnah to public gatherings. Similarly, expecting heavens from the Hurriyat leadership when we fully realize the limitations imposed by the repressive state apparatus is either height of arrogance or pure lack of common sense. These sections of our society have mastered the art of blaming Hurriyat for every tragedy that Kashmir goes through. This is seriously appalling. The tragedy in our case is that our resistance leaders are on the one hand being harassed, tortured and scandalized by the government, and on the other, they have become whipping boys for some self-conscious Kashmiris as well.Leaders are not sacrosanct. They have to be accountable for their actions. But they too deserve to be given a fail trial. Assuming the role of judge, jury and the executioner and then putting Hurriyatin the dock is shameless.

This approach is at its best statist. Its ows seeds of dissension between the people and resistance leadership. By sitting in comfort zones and giving moral lectures is not going to help. Why don’t these people come to the forefront and help the leadership with whatever strategies they have?Why they ignore the fact that Hurriyat has remained as an uncompromising voice against India’s illegalities and a great challenge to its nefarious policies in Kashmir. Why do they fail to count the innumerable sacrifices of resistance leadership for the cause since decades including jails tortures, house arrests, and what not? Is this league of ‘Hurriyat bashers’ suggesting the resistance camp to quit and surrender before India and leave us anarchic? One seriously wonders which side this ‘criticism brigade’ is and whom they are appeasing. It sometimes seems that these people are not fighting oppression but Hurriyat. This overrated criticism gives Indian corporate media great chances to demonize, disparage and scandalize the already constricted, caged and beleaguered resistance leadership. Incidentally, the Hurriyat bashing has become a great TRP grosser for Indian News Prime Time shows and this specific video worked out well for them this time.

The author is a Doctoral Fellow at Centre of Advanced Study in History at Aligarh Muslim University. He can be reached at makhaja@myamu.ac.in