Kashmir separatists 'united', 'ready' to foil Sainik and KP colonies plans

In their ongoing movement against the proposed Sainik and KP colonies, the divided separatists on Sunday put up a united show against the Jammu and Kashmir government’s controversial plans to settle ex-army officials and migrated Hindus in separate colonies. The separatists said they were “united” and “ready” to foil India’s plans to change the ‘Muslim-majority character of Kashmir.’

The different factions of Hurriyat Conference and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) have launched a joint strategy to foil the “government’s plans to change the demography of the state and give the Kashmir conflict a communal colour”. This is for the second time since 2008 Amarnath Shrine Board land row that the separatists have assembled at one platform - much to the worry of the state government.

The joint separatists seminar was held at senior separatist Syed Ali Geelani’s residence in Hyderpora. Earlier, Hurriyat leaders were house arrested by the police to foil the seminar but were allowed to go ahead with it. Many people have raised eyebrows over the government’s intentions of allow the seminar.

 Kashmir separatists united, ready to foil Sainik and KP colonies plans

Syed Ali Shah Geelani. Reuters

‘Unite against conspiracies’

Speaking on the occasion, the Hurriyat (G) chairman Geelani asked people to unite against the conspiracies of the government to change the demography of the state.

He said: “People should be ready to resist conspiracies aimed at changing the demography of Kashmir. We have to be cautious of India’s plans to settle non-locals here. The pro-freedom camp is united. Now it is peoples’s turn, particularly youth, to unite and foil conspiracies of India to change the Muslim-majority character of Kashmir into minority.”

Geelani appealed to people to stay away from pro-India parties like the National Conference, Peoples’ Democratic Party and Congress.

‘Pandits are our brothers’

On the issue of separate residential complexes for the settlement of migrated Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley, Geelani said they (Hurriyat) were not against their (KP) return. “They are our brothers. Muslims will welcome them with open heart. If they government is giving them Rs 20 lakh for rehabilitation, let them give them Rs 30 lakh, but they must be settled at their native places,” he said.

Hurriyat (M) chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, voiced the same opinion on this controversial issue which has attracted much debate both inside and outside the Assembly. Mirwaiz said New Delhi wanted to label Kashmiri Muslims as extremists.

Mirwaiz said: “The return of Kashmiri Pandits is a humanitarian issue. Our younger generation might not have seen Pandits, but we will wholeheartedly welcome them back but to their native places. New Delhi wants to label Kashmiri Muslims as extremists and communal and give an impression that Kashmir Pandits are insecure,” he said.

Mirwaiz said Hurriyat would reach out to Pandits and appraise them against the conspiracies of establishing separate colonies for them.

“The Pandits living in Kashmir have opposed separate townships. The pro-freedom leaders and civil society will reach out to the Pandit leadership and appeal them to settle in their own houses,” he said.

The government has identified over 700 kanals of land to construct separate townships for migrant Kashmiri Pandits in different districts of the state.

In the ongoing Assembly session, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, said the government would set up transit accommodation to facilitate the return of migrant Pandits to the Valley.

‘Will fight Sainik colonies tooth and nail’

On the construction of the Sainik colonies for retired ex-army officials, Geelani said it was a “conspiracy to settle non-locals in Kashmir.” He said that the Jammu and Kashmir government was following the footsteps of Sheikh Abdullah to settle non-locals here.

“There is no need to establish separate colonies for the retired Army officials. I had opposed Sheikh Abdullah’s move to pass the law that give land on lease for 90 years to non-locals. Now, this government, on directions of people in New Delhi, is doing the same thing,” he said.

He said the government intends to settle non-local laborers working in Kashmir. “Over five lakh Biharis working here have been assured settlements,” he said.

Mirwaiz said they will fight tooth and nail the establishment of the Sainik Colonies.

“Since 1947, conspiracies have been made to change the Muslim-majority character of Kashmir. RSS leaders like Shyama Prasad Mukherjee hatched conspiracy to change the demography of Kashmir. We appeal to traders, civil society, industrialists, hoteliers and Bar Association to take a stand on these issues,” Mirwaiz said.

However, Mehbooba has denied any settlement of non-state subjects in the Sainik colonies by the government. “I want to make it clear that the Sainik colonies are meant for ex-army men who are state subjects,” she said in the Assembly two weeks ago.

JKLF chairman, Yasin Malik, who was rearrested after the court granted him bail in 1987 case, couldn’t attend the seminar. However, vice-chairman Advocate Bashir attended the joint seminar. Similarly, senior Hurriyat leader, Shabir Ahmad Shah, was not allowed to attend the seminar by police by putting him under house detention. Besides separatists, civil society, several trade, and industrialist bodies attended the seminar and extended their support against the government plans.

Public anger in Kashmir is visible against the government’s move. A statewide shutdown called by separatists against the Sainik and KP colonies on 26 May evoked a strong response from the general public.

The united show of separatists may have unnerved the government, but it needs to be seen how it reacts to the joint strategy against Pandit and Sainik colonies. However, it is likely to cause heated debates in the Assembly when the Opposition and Bharatiya Janta Party leaders corner the government on Monday.

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Updated Date: Jun 21, 2016 16:21:48 IST