LET TRUTH PREVAIL
“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act”
– George Orwell
On last Tuesday, two Hizbul Mujahideen militants were reportedly killed during an encounter with the security forces in Lolipora village near Palhalan. Paying glowing tributes to the slain duo at a special meeting of the Hizbul Mujahideen Command Council, the UJC chairman and Hizb supremo Syed Sallaudin declared that, “The martyrs of Pattan: Aaqib Rashid Sofi and Bilal Ahmed Bhat, have laid down their lives for Islam and the freedom of their motherland.” He also appreciated the fact that “Both the freedom fighters fought bravely with the armed forces and embraced martyrdom.”
However, if the relatives of these deceased youth are to be believed, then it emerges that the duo were just innocent boys and in no way connected with militancy. While Abdul Rashid Sofi, the father of Aaqib has claimed that his son went missing on June 22 this year and his family had lodged a complaint regarding the same in the Pattan Police Station, a close relative of the other slain youth Bilal Ahmad said that Bilal had gone to Gulmarg five days ago to buy sheep.
We thus have two deaths and two versions- so whom does one believe?
If one goes by Sallaudin’s claim of the two slain youth being ‘freedom fighters’ of the Hizbul Mujahideen, then why are the family members of the deceased trying to refute Sallaudin’s assertion that their wards were ‘Mujahids’ and thus denying them the honour and glory due to those who embrace ‘martyrdom’ for the Kashmir cause. This is indeed intriguing as Sallaudin himself has proclaimed that the “martyrdom of these freedom fighters amply demonstrates the fact that every Mujahid of Hizb is committed to Kashmir cause and is ready to sacrifice their precious lives to achieve the noble cause.”
However, if we are to believe the version of the relatives of the deceased that they were innocent youth done to death by the security forces, then this incident becomes even more confusing. This is because it is difficult to comprehend as to why Syed Sallaudin is trying to ‘cover- up’ this blatant and gross human rights violation resulting in the death of two innocent youth at the hands of the security forces by claiming that they were militants? However, this is not the first time that contradictory claims have been made regarding the identity of the persons involved in militancy related incidents.
Readers will recall that starting from the 90s, when the militants first made the allegation that Mirwaiz Mohammad Farooq had been assassinated by the security forces and intelligence agencies, this line of accusation has been oft repeated and the killings of Prof Abdul Ahad Wani and Abdul Gani Lone too were ascribed to the security forces. However, it was only through the former Hurriyat Conference chairman Abdul Gani Bhat’s subsequent admission, that “our own people” were behind all these killings that the air was finally cleared. However, as this was the militant’s worst-kept secret, virtually everyone already knew what Bhat publically revealed in 2010. Nevertheless, this truthful admission, even though inordinately belated, did improve the credibility of the separatist conglomerate’s commitment to truth.
Until now, one largely believed that, it was only the security forces, which killed innocents and then passed them off as ‘militants’. However, by making contradictory statements regarding the antecedents of the two youth killed in the Lolipora encounter, the militant leadership is undermining its own credibility. And this is not the first time such a thing has happened. Readers will recall that, precisely one month after the suspicious ‘encounter’ in which the Gujarat Police gunned down three men alongwith a woman and claimed that the deceased were Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) operatives, ‘Ghazwa Times’, which is the mouthpiece of the LeT, had claimed that Ishrat was affiliated to the LeT. Though the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, (JuD), which is the political wing of the LeT, subsequently retracted this statement terming it a “journalistic mistake” and even offered an apology to Ishrat’s family, the damage had already been done. This was because it took the JuD three long years to ‘realise’ its perplexing mistake and in the bargain, not only was the reputation of a dead teenage girl and her family ruined, but a false encounter also managed to gain ‘legitimacy’!
While the Hizb supremo’s claim that his outfit was fighting ‘Pakistan’s war in Kashmir’, was embarrassing enough for Islamabad, the Hizb committed another faux pas recently by claiming that Hizb ‘freedom fighters’ were responsible for the recent killing of Indian troopers on the LoC. By making this claim, the Hizb has unwittingly added credence to the Indian Defence Minister’s initial statement made in the Parliament and even though it may have promptly retracted this claim, by its initial admission, the Hizb has strengthened New Delhi’s assertion regarding the existence of a ‘Pak army- terrorist nexus’. India will no doubt use this to embarrass Islamabad in the international fora, at an opportune time- when the Kashmir issue or Human Rights situation in J&K is raised by Pakistan. These are just a few examples of how the recently acquired habit of the Hizb to prematurely shoot- off its mouth is damaging its own claim that the ‘freedom struggle’ in Kashmir is a completely ‘indigenous’ movement.
Though leveling false allegations has traditionally been used as a convenient tool for propaganda purposes, the militant leadership as well as the separatists should realise that with easy access to multimedia in today’s world, falsehood has a very short life. We talk a lot about the sacrifices of our martyrs and of our firm resolve to carry forward the movement for the ‘right to self determination’. But, is it necessary for our leaders to stoop down so low as to rely on falsehood for this purpose and in doing so malign the noble character of this struggle? Though our leaders have adequate intelligence and know what is best, pondering over Abraham Lincoln’s observation that, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time,” may do them, and in turn our movement, some good!
LET TRUTH PREVAIL