EXCERPTS from an interview with Mirwaiz Muhammad Umar Farooq, who leads a faction of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference:
The separatist leadership and the people are divided. Your comments.
The leadership is not allowed to meet or even sympathise with the people. Our offices have been sealed and we have been confined to our residences or are under arrest. There is no leadership crisis. People are saying what the leadership is saying.
The two are in complete agreement with each other. People are expressing [their] sentiments. We may not be physically with the people, but psychologically and mentally we are one.
The government and the Indian media are trying to create an opinion that the ongoing movement is directionless and leaderless. It is a wrong analysis of the situation. The agenda of the leadership is the agenda of the people, there is no disconnect.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has said it is a leaderless movement.
The safety of both the State government and New Delhi is in propagating the myth that the ongoing movement is directionless. It is absolutely false. The direction is crystal clear. The people are demanding the resolution of the Kashmir issue in accordance with their wishes and aspirations. This is what the Hurriyat is also saying. What alternative do the youth have other than protesting on the streets? Stone-throwing is a reaction to subjugation. People should be allowed to move and share the suffering and pain. The government provides no space even to mourn. People should be allowed to express their sentiments.What do you think is New Delhi's role?
New Delhi cannot take the people and the pro-freedom leadership of the State for granted.
Whenever there is a semblance of peace in the State, New Delhi turns complacent. New Delhi has to come out of that cocoon and think beyond the myopic agenda.What should be done to restore peace?
The government has to stop the killings and atrocities, and lift the curfew. The protests will automatically be peaceful. People need some time and space to express their feelings. The onus is on the government. They have to stop showering bullets on innocents.What is your future programme?
We will not allow this movement to fizzle out. Whenever we are set free, we will sit together within and outside the Hurriyat and try to formalise a strategy to channelise the movement further. We will not allow this movement to go back to square one.Shujaat Bukhari