Dated 2018-12-15
13
Nov
2017

Politically Incorrect

He is blunt and loves to play the devil’s advocate. Known for his spitfire brand of activism right from his student days, he mobilized students in Kashmir University in 2005 and resumed the student activism at a time when it was almost dead on the campus. Kashmir Newsline catches up with Advocate Babar Qadri.

On a recent Republic TV show, you suddenly exploded when Arnob was urging another panelist to yell Pakistan murdabad. What was it that triggered your Hindustan murdabad salvo?

Arnob was trying, as usual, to bully us and force us into saying Pakistan murdabad to satisfy the collective conscience of RSS. I reacted in his very tone and tenor, but with words of my own choice.

You wear your heart on your sleeve which often brings you ire from different quarters and many people don’t like you for that. Do you think you need to mature a bit or is it working for you the way it is?

I think one should speak his heart out instead of being a hypocrite. I am a human being and to err is human. I believe I’m growing with the passage of time. That said, I believe we should call a spade a spade - more so at this crucial juncture of the movement.

You have been scathingly critical of the J&K High Court Bar Association. Many, including lawyers, attribute it to your desperation for some kind of a position at the Bar. How would you explain that?

People have a right to criticise and being a democrat, I respect that but the allegations leveled against me are devoid of any truth. I have no desperation; I never complained despite having been victimized repeatedly.  I rather chose to fight this big unholy alliance. I recently offered unconditional reconciliation with Advocate Qayoom sahab, but he didn’t bother to respond.  

What do you mean by ‘big unholy alliance’?

Big unholy alliance is the mafia controlling the Bar for its vested interest. This mafia is connected to the government as well as the resistance camp, if at all there is any resistance left in it.

 

You say you’ve been victimized. How?

I was suspended from the Bar in 2012 and the suspension is still in place. I was physically assaulted by the executive members twice. They accuse me of being an ISI agent before the State officials and declare me an Indian agent in the resistance camp. Two years back, Qayoom sahab visited my home and assured my father that the bad blood would end. But, as is his wont, he never kept his word. 

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How well has Advocate Mian Qayoom served the Bar? You don’t seem to be impressed by him at all.

Qayoom sahab could never inspire me. Although I respect him as my senior, but merit wise he has failed to impress me as his colleague at the Bar. The Bar hasn’t produced any kind of leadership since 1990 as it has kept itself subservient to political bosses who have failed us miserably. The leaders that our Bar has produced have no achievements under their belt. That alone vindicates my stand.

Why did you offer reconciliation when you believe Mian Qayoom doesn’t deserve to be where he is?

I offered reconciliation based on principles for the larger good of the cause. I was also advised by some well-wishers of the movement that I should make the first move. So I thought it was worth it.  But, perhaps, Qayoom sahab’s ego was too fat to accept it.  

Photo: Qazi Aqeel

This is the reflection of our society where vested interest and manipulative mechanism plays its part. It shows how much barren our legal fraternity is and that they don't have a person as an alternative to Mian Qayoom. I see it as a black chapter in the legal system of Kashmir where still dictatorship rules the roost.

Bar Association has re-elected Mian Qayoom as President and it’s a landslide win.

This is the reflection of our society where vested interest and manipulative mechanism plays its part. It shows how much barren our legal fraternity is and that they don't have a person as an alternative to Mian Qayoom. I see it as a black chapter in the legal system of Kashmir where still dictatorship rules the roost.

Anybody who claims to espouse a cause needs to be sane and poised. You give an impression that you’re volatile and unpredictable. You keep pointing fingers at everyone.

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Yes, it is a fact that I am not predictable and I regard that as a qualification rather than a disqualification. Kashmir conflict is a victim of predictability. Leaders have been predictable and as a result they have to dance to the tunes of New Delhi. The accusation that I’m volatile is a card with my detractors that they use against every sincere person just to discourage and isolate him. But, I must tell you, people aren’t illiterate anymore. They can see through it.

Geelani sahab is a veteran leader but it’s my firm belief that instead of making any contribution to the movement, he has been a liability. Though, I respect him for the long periods of incarceration he was subjected to over the last three decades.

You come from a Jama’at-e-Islami (JeI) background, yet you have been bitter to SAS Geelani and you make no bones about it. Please explain.

I don’t consider myself a jama’ati, I never was one. My father has a JeI background. In politics, it is not incumbent upon me that I pretend to agree with a leader when I actually disagree with him.  Politics is a subject matter of agreements and disagreements, so there is nothing personal about it. Geelani sahab is a veteran leader but it’s my firm belief that instead of making any contribution to the movement, he has been a liability. Though, I respect him for the long periods of incarceration he was subjected to over the last three decades.

Does Kashmir movement need an overhaul of the leadership and should Geelani, Mirwaiz and Yasin all be removed and new people brought in? You often suggest the old guard has done nothing or, at least, should have done a lot more.

Growth and progress is a part of natural process. Stagnation is death.  We shouldn’t impose leadership. Instead, we should allow it to emerge through a natural course of action. Changes are inevitable, especially in the wake of the colossal failure that this movement has seen as a result of corrupt and incompetent leadership.

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