Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi's was the centre-piece of the Valley's head priest Mirwaiz Umar Farooq's sermon on Friday where he expected the new-generation leadership "to move away from traditional stand and look at Kashmir more realistically".
"Mr (Rahul) Gandhi has to play a
long innings in India's politics. We hope that instead of drawing a curtain on ground realities and simmering political situation of Kashmir, he will come forward with a realistic stand to pave way for a lasting solution to the Kashmir issue," said moderate Hurriyat chairman Farooq, while addressing a huge congregation at Srinagar's Jamia Masjid.
The Mirwaiz, however, criticised Rahul's Kashmir speech for "not touching upon the stark realities like human rights abuses, deployment of lakhs of troops, enforced disappearances and unmarked graves".
"Rahul talked about democracy, democratic institutions and employment. Which democracy and democratic institution is he talking about?" said the Mirwaiz, adding "the revelation made by the ex-army chief exposes democracy here where the security agencies pay legislators and ministers in the Valley to shield their misdeeds".
Rahul was in J&K for two days and concluded his visit to Kashmir on Thursday.
Without naming any one, the Mirwaiz said the new emerging leadership in the country has to wake up to the realities of Kashmir.
"The leadership of India has to change itself and accept realities on the ground, which is that Kashmir is not a problem of unemployment, democracy or Panchayati Raj. These slogans will not resolve Kashmir issue," he added.
The moderate separatist leaders said he want to tell Rahul Gandhi that "the words like democracy sound hollow for people here who are facing threat to their lives every day and with basic religious and social rights being trampled day in and day out".
Calling for a tripartite dialogue between India, Pakistan and leadership of Kashmir, the Mirwaiz blamed the Congress for all ills in Kashmir.
"The Congress ruled India for the most part. It was the Congress that took Kashmir to the United Nations and Jawaharlal Nehru promised people right to self determination in Srinagar," recalled the Mirwaiz.
He warned that India's intransigence and aggressive posture was "widening the gap between New Delhi and people of Kashmir with each passing day".
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