Srinagar: The Hizbul Mujahideen commander Riyaz Naikoo has said that the militant outfit is not against negotiations with India. But, he said, negotiations can only lead to a fruitful outcome when they take place between parties that recognize each other as equals.
“Negotiations cannot happen between a master and a slave or, as the great thinker of Palestinian armed struggle, Ghassan Kanafani, very aptly put it, as “the conversation between the sword and the neck”,” Nikoo told Aljazeera in an interview.
He said that some Indian leaders insist that we must talk within the ambit of the Indian constitution; what they really mean is capitulation. “They are not interested in honoring our legitimate political demands. They are only interested in pushing for policies and mechanisms that further entrench the occupational apparatus.”
To a question about his belief in the strategy of armed resistance, Naikoo said, “The Indian military occupation of Jammu and Kashmir which we are fighting against is the longest-running and the most brutal occupation in the contemporary era, which compares with the occupation of Palestine in its scope and intensity, yet the reality of abuses here is much less known.”
“Yes, we have chosen the path of armed struggle, but primarily, we are for peace, not war.
“It is the nature of the occupying Indian state that has compelled us to resort to violent methods of resistance. Kashmiri people did not pick up arms for more than 40 years since occupation began in 1947. It was only after continuous repression and scuttling of all peaceful means of resistance that we were compelled to do so.
“There are many United Nations resolutions that call for a plebiscite to determine the will of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
“But the Indian state has repeatedly refused to recognise or implement them, and they keep labelling Kashmir as their internal matter, which goes against the legality and history of the dispute.
“Armed struggle is not exactly our first choice, but it is a difficult choice that some of us have made, and we will remain steadfast on our chosen path.
“You must know that this scenario is not unique in history. Such has been the case with all freedom struggles against colonial rule, be it the Indian freedom struggle against the British, or the Algerian movement against the French, or the struggle of the Libyan people against Italian rule. The people of Kashmir are the life-blood of our resistance.”
The Hizbul Mujahideen commander said that by raising guns against “Indian rule in Kashmir”, we want to let them know that we will not accept the “occupation of our land” under any circumstance. “We will respond to their force with force since that seems to be the only language they understand.”
He said: “We will continue to stand up for our right to self-determination and we are ready to fight until our last breath. Most of all, we want to let them know that we might die in the struggle, but we will never surrender.
“No colonial occupation has continued forever, and it is our firm belief that the Indian rule in Kashmir will also collapse sooner or later, until then, we will fight.
“Obviously, such resistance comes at a cost, and Indian forces continue to kill Kashmiri people with impunity.
“The determination, resistance and sacrifices of our people – men and women, old and young, widows and orphans, half-mothers [mothers whose children have disappeared] and disappeared sons, those in prisons and in torture centres, motivate us to carry on.”
He said that the groups demand is freedom. “Freedom, for us, means the complete dismantling of India’s illegal occupation of Kashmir and all the structures that support it, be they military or economic.”
“We want to get rid of the structures that have enslaved not just the territory of Kashmir but also the free expression and social and economic well-being of our people. We want our freedom with justice and dignity.
“We consider Pakistan as our ideological and moral friend. Pakistan is the only country which has consistently supported our cause and raised the concerns of Kashmiri freedom struggle at international forums.
“Pakistan’s creation as the homeland for Muslims of the Indian subcontinent links us to it historically as we were a Muslim majority region whose geography was contiguous with Pakistan. Most importantly, even if the Pakistani state’s support for Kashmir cause has, at times, wavered circumstantially, the people of Pakistan have always stood by us and our cause.”
Naikoo also thanked the people who in one way or other are fighting this “illegal occupation”. “We must also understand that we as armed fighters are not different from people. We are different organs of the same body.
“There is no essential binary of difference between armed fighters and common people. Occupation’s bullets do not make a distinction between civilians and fighters, nor do its prisons. We are united with our people in life and death.”