Kashmir separatists join forces to resist attempts at ‘demographic change’
Separatist groups in Kashmir are trying to forge an alliance against what they perceive a multi-pronged assault by the centre on the state’s special constitutional status. Recently , JKLF supremo Yasin Malik called on the hardline Hurriyat Chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani to seek his consent for a united separatist front against the centre’s “conspiratorial programmes”.
Earlier, Malik had visited moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and got him on board for a joint strategy.
“It is a do or die situation for Kashmir,” Malik said in a statement issued after the meeting with Geelani. “Policy makers of India want to change the demography of Jammu and Kashmir as soon as possible and for this purpose the new communal government is using its entire force and machinery”.
Prompting this scramble for unity are some recent government proposals which involve the possession of the land. The proposals are the separate settlements for Kashmiri Pandits, land for Sainik colony for ex-servicemen and their kin, New Industrial Policy and the state government’s decision to initiate work on building the structures for ‘floating population’ in Jammu and Kupwara districts.
The New Industrial Policy allows non-state subjects to get on lease the land for setting up industries outside the industrial estates in the state with the policy remaining silent on the upper ceiling of the land to be leased. The policy is now being reviewed by the state government.
Similarly, National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET) imposes a single common entrance test for MBBS and BDS courses thereby scrapping the entrance examinations held by the other states, including J&K. Though J&K had challenged the imposition of the test in the Supreme Court, the petition was dismissed.
“Kashmiris will do everything to safeguard their struggle, and their Muslim identity,” a statement issued by Geelani’s Hurriyat said. “Pro-freedom leadership will be at the frontline of this movement.”
Malik and Geelani met at the latter’s Hyderpora residence. The meeting was also attended by Advocate Bashir Ahmad Bhat, Muhammad Abdullah Tari, Ghulam Nabi Sumji, Nayeem Ahmad Khan, Showkat Ahmad Bakshi, Altaf Ahmad Shah, Noor Muhammad Kalwal, Muhammad Yaseen Bhat and Ayaz Akbar.
The meeting was a part of the “consultative efforts” to promote a unified approach to tackle new challenges being posed by “Indian rulers and their Kashmiri stooges” in the name of “ the Israeli-type separate colonies for migrant Kashmiri Pandits and retired soldiers, East India Company-type Industrial Policy, colonies for homeless outsiders and NEET.”
“Any negligence at this time on the part of the nation will lead to serious consequences and very soon our condition will be no better than the Palestine people who have been rendered homeless in their own land,” the statement said. “The programmes pose serious threat to the people of Jammu and Kashmir and the plots are actually threatening our very existence”.
Malik also visited office of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries and held a meeting with its members. Later Kashmir Economic Alliance, a grouping of the Valley’s trading groups, also issued a statement warning of an atmosphere of unrest being created in Kashmir.
“Each and every unusual development taking place in the PDP-BJP alliance since last year suggests that the basic motive of every order issued by this government in this behalf is to systematically erode Article 370 and to allot the land to outsiders,” the statement said. “If the state government is serious towards creation of a peaceful atmosphere, it must instantly revoke all sinister orders and make its position clear before the people”.