Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq found himself tweeting answers to tough as well as personal questions from the people of Kashmir Thursday. #AskHurriyat was a first-of-its-kind initiative, aiming to “bridge the gap between people and leadership”, and taken by the independent forum Youth of Kashmir, which asked people to come up with questions, ideas and suggestions for Mirwaiz.
“It was a nice initiative,” Mirwaiz told The Indian Express. “I think there is a deliberate attempt by the government to keep leaders out of contact from the people. It will help. I believe these are important tools in today’s world for mobilisation of people”.
Mirwaiz answered questions and responded to suggestions for three hours, with most Twitter users questioning the wisdom behind separatist leaderships’ ‘hartal and chalo’ politics and suggesting new ideas.
“Will the anniversary hartals and failed chalos lead us to freedom,” asked Burhan Gilani. Mirwaiz posted, “At times hartal becomes the only option, but I agree we have to look for alternative means of protest.”
“Why there is a false or true perception brewing that Hurriyat people want themselves to be house arrested,” tweeted Haamid Peerzada, while Sheikh Usman asked: “Why can’t u guys be spontaneous. You issue a protest call & then comes house arrest. Politics of convenience?” Mirwaiz responded, “It’s not convenient to be house arrested for weeks and months. But I agree we need to have more inclusive programmes. Unfortunate. This perception (that separatists ‘manage’ their house arrest) is being created by those who want to create a wedge between the leadership and the people.”
When one user asked Mirwaiz why they don’t boycott “Indian goods”, he responded, “We could only boycott if we produce something of our own. Self reliance is the key.”
The Hurriyat chairman was asked some personal questions too. Darmian wanted to know whether he likes Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo more. “I prefer Cristiano,” Mirwaiz tweeted back.
Though there was “some criticism and cynicism”, Mirwaiz tweeted, “It was a nice experience with you all today. Although it is difficult to reply in 140 characters, will continue this initiative.” To The Indian Express, he said, “There were some really good suggestions, like one that I start a YouTube channel. In fact, after the interaction, a group of Kashmir University students dropped suggestions in writing in front of my gate today.