Sense of Despair

  • Saqib Malik
  • Publish Date: Jan 16 2017 3:01PM
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  • Updated Date: Jan 16 2017 5:15PM
Sense of DespairFile Photo

The first and foremost realisation that must dawn upon the Hurriyat is that this is a conflict, not a war. It needs to be resolved with through constructive politics. Shutdown does not amount to politics. As a young Kashmiri, I am convinced that the Hurriyat lacks the intellectual capacity to resolve the conflict. 

Still, I hope they rise to the occasion and try to improve on their delivery. Constructive politics is the alternative to hartal and it can help resolve the conflict. We need to emulate other conflict resolution models such as that adopted in Scotland or Northern Ireland. Understanding how a conflict is resolved is imperative. And they should stop issuing these hartal calenders. 

Junaid Mattu 

Spokesperson, National Conference 




The Hurriyat should do a serious study of the political developments that took place in Kashmir from 1953 to 1975. They might then realise the need to adopt peaceful parliamentary methods and advocate reconciliation between India and Pakistan. The Hurriyat should take a cue from the All State People's Convention of 1968 that organised by Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah. There is a need to hold a second people's convention involving people from all sections, including well-meaning top political leaders from India. 

Also, any strategy that needs to be adopted can't be imported from elsewhere; it has to be rooted in our own culture. 

Prof Gul Wani

Political Scientist




Other than calling for hartals, the Hurriyat leaders are not capable of doing much. If you want to lead a movement, you have to define a goal. They all say we need Azadi but none can define what Azadi is. They are looking after their personal interests by being subservient to another country. The Hurriyat is confused; they have not spelled out what are we fighting for, and they have not devised a policy that could have spared us all this damage. 

G N Khayal

Journalist & Author




They should have called for everyone to take to the roads every 15 days, and the leaders should have joined people in this protest. Peaceful protests happen everywhere in the world, but not hartals. These prolonged hartals we observe are counter-productive. Hartals have not benefited us as much peaceful protests could have. Candlelight vigils, mashal processions and hunger strikes are effective ways protesting. 

Hartals should happen but only once in a while so that it sends out a message, and, at the same time, does not hurt the economy.

Muhammad Yaseen Khan

Chairman, Kashmir Economic Alliance




Before resorting to any kind of action, it was imperative for the Hurriyat to take the people into confidence. When you knew that Kashmir's economy is fragile, you should not have gone for continuous hartals. Signing petitions on and other human rights platforms, for example, can make a lot of difference and bring the Kashmir issue to global notice. The Hurriyat should also encourage the Kashmiri diaspora to lodge peaceful protests wherever they stay. In fact, such protests have already been held, and they have had some impact in Europe, the US and Australia. 

Aziz Ahmad 





They should have thought up an alternative as hartals have hollowed out our economy. Hartal should have been observed for just a few hours a day as it is symbolic. Blanket hartals don’t yield anything; protests held locally are more effective. Consulting all stakeholders – traders, transporters, students and suchlike – was a good move on part of the Hurriyat, but it should have been done more often. The hartal formula does not suit us in any manner. Peaceful protests, rather than stone pelting and bandhs, could have helped grab more attention from the global media. Hartals send a message to the outside world that Kashmiris are fond of shutting shops and going off the roads because of our climate and such.  

 M M Shuja 

Human Rights Activist




There was no need to call a strike as the government had already imposed curfew in the aftermath of Burhan’s killing. Calling for hartal was a self-goal. Curfew is oppression and militarisation. By calling for a strike you are helping the government’s cause as a strike only leads to self-defeat and nothing else. About 10-15 days into this revolt, I had said we should call off the strike keeping in view what happened in 2010. Knowing that the fascist government in New Delhi takes pleasure in our suffering, there should have been better vision and strategy on behalf of the Hurriyat leadership. 

They should call a strike only when there is a responsive government on the other side. Otherwise all the shouting and sloganeering falls on deaf ears. The Indian state is least bothered whether Kashmiris roll their shutters down or up. 

 Nayeema Jabeen 






The Hurriyat should have built a movement around self-sufficiency and boycott of some Indian products. This is only symbolic, but it would have sent out a strong message. Social media was a tool that made Burhan Wani famous. The Hurriyat, with help of tech-savvy youth, too could have smartly used social media to express our opinion to the world. I think hartals haven't achieved even 10 per cent of what social media campaigns could have.

Rather Asif

Sales Representative




2016 was both historic as well as painful year for Kashmiris. People showed unprecedented resilience, which has very few parallels in modern history, and painful as hundred odd people were killed and hundreds injured, many of them blinded. When we look back and try to analyse the past summer, a question arises: What have we gained and what have we lost? 2016 Uprising was spontaneous. It started all of a sudden and Hurriyat took “command” and then led the uprising via calendars. And now, almost six months later, we stand at a point where the only question people are asking is what have we gained in practical terms?  Agitations or mass struggles like this never lead to achievement of ultimate goals. It’s a fact and should have been taken into consideration. But unfortunately resistance leadership missed this point and somehow people were made to feel as if the goal is around the corner. Our economy was shattered, education messed up, and disappointment spread.

Calendar after calendar came and finally people got fatigued and calenders became just a norm which found few takers. It never means that people have lost faith in the leadership. They are disappointed but this is only natural. Resistance isn’t merely about reaction. It’s more about developing a response rather than always reacting to certain situations. They need to see how people can be mobilized in a more effective manner without economic damage and huge human losses. Let them go for institutionalization of movement at this time rather than preparing for another mass upheaval. Once movements are institutionalized, response becomes more effective. Leadership should set up certain short term practical goals which can be achieved so that a sense of hope is instilled among people instead of disappointment. Hartal as a long term strategy needs to be revisited. It has been hurting this land more than giving any positive results. And let them work on increasing tolerance level of people. We need to trust each another, listen to differing voices, and agree to disagree.

Zahid Fayaz