Pointedly snubbing the separatists in the Kashmir Valley, who have often used Islam as a rallying point, the Darul Uloom Deoband, the spiritual headquarters of Sunni Islam, and its influential social front, Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind, affirmed on Sunday that Jammu and Kashmir was an integral part of India.
At a massive conclave called by the Jamaat at the Deoband seminary campus, 150 km northeast of Delhi, the gathered clerics sent out a clear message that Kashmir’s unrest should not be exploited to fuel separatism.
“India is a bouquet of all types of flowers. We cannot allow any of the flowers to be taken away,” said senior Darul theologian Abdul Rahim Bastawi.
“The long pending demands of Kashmiri people must be addressed within the framework of the Constitution of India,” said a resolution passed at the conclave.
Historically, the Jamiat, along with Darul Uloom, had been opposed to the partitioning of the country along religious lines.
But post-Independence it has never spelt a position on Kashmir so clearly.
“Deoband taking up the issue now, however belatedly, signals a renewed attempt to resist separatism. This assertion is more Indian than Islamic,” said Akhtarul Wasey, head of Islamic Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi.
“Indian Muslims have to be taken on board while addressing the Kashmir issue. The unrest there and separatist tendencies have deep implications for rest of India’s Muslims,” Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind leader Mahmood Madani told Hindustan Times, on the sidelines of the conclave.