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HindustanTimes Fri,18 Apr 2014

Religious freedom is being curbed in Kishtwar: Syed Geelani

Toufiq Rashid , Hindustan Times   August 13, 2013
First Published: 00:45 IST(13/8/2013) | Last Updated: 03:11 IST(13/8/2013)

Since March 2013, senior separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani has been under house arrest in Kashmir. The administration considers the 83-year-old leader a threat to peace in the valley. In the current scenario, the state government seems to be in no hurry to undo the restrictions. The leader spoke to HT while under house arrest. Excerpts:

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The government believes you are a threat to peace in the valley.
(Laughs) I have been under house arrest for such a long time but have the protests stopped? People are protesting and administration is quelling them with force, even killing the protesters. Protests are people's natural right and they will continue.

In the light of rising communal tension in Jammu, the administration might not lift the restrictions any time soon.
What is happening in Jammu is unfortunate but when communities are suppressed, communal harmony takes a beating. In Kishtwar, people were attacked during Eid prayers.

There is an effort to change the demography of Muslim majority places in Jammu and religious freedom is being curbed. The government has tried to do the same in the valley as well.

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq of Hurriyat has offered to facilitate dialogue between India and Pakistan. You seem to be the only one insisting on referendum first.
Dialogue has been useless before and it will bear no fruits in future. Since 23 March 1952, more than 150 dialogue processes have been initiated but with no results. On one hand India says dialogue is important and on the other it says Kashmir is its integral part. How can anything come of it?

With election round the corner and armed struggle bearing no results whatsoever, what can be the solution?
Elections offer no solution. The solution lies with India accepting Kashmiris have the right to determine their future.

India has to show readiness to solve the problem. Till then, the uprising will continue.

You claim to be against communalism but you called on locals not to rent their homes to non-Kashmiris.
My comment was misinterpreted. What I meant was do it the Islamic way, don't get your tenants into your kitchen. There is no harm renting out places with a separate entrance. We have to be safe with crime against women being on an all-time high.

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