Kashmir's top separatist has warned India's heavy-handed crackdown on protests in the Muslim-majority region could trigger a renewed violent upsurge in the long-running separatist revolt. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, also the disputed region's most prominent cleric, said New Delhi needed to accept that Kashmiris were as opposed as ever to Indian rule and a referendum on self-determination was the only way out of the crisis. "We will continue to fight peacefully and politically," Farooq said in an interview, which had to be conducted by telephone within Srinagar city because he is under house arrest. "(However) If India pushes us too hard to the wall, tomorrow you can't really ignore the fact the youth might be angered and forced to resort again to arms," Farooq said. On Tuesday, Indian authorities lifted a nine-day curfew -- the longest since the early 1990s when the militancy was at its height. "Today we had the issue of land that became the focal point of our freedom movement. Tomorrow we may have something else," said Farooq. "Unless and until the basic issue (of Kashmir's future) is addressed, you cannot ever say that the Kashmir issue is dead or that people have forgotten what happened in the past," he said. Farooq has held several rounds of talks with New Delhi in the past to try to find a solution to the future of Kashmir, despite opposition from hard line separatists and attacks on his residence by militants. He now opposes bilateral parleys. "The time has come to resolve the issue either through tripartite dialogue or a UN-supervised referendum giving people the choice of independence, staying with India or joining Pakistan. "These are the only two mechanisms which we believe are workable in the present situation," said Farooq, a Sunni Muslim who wields huge moral and political influence as the mirwaiz, or head cleric. Analysts say the latest demonstrations were a reminder that the India-Pakistan peace process had failed to address the frustrations of the region's Muslims.