The Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind has called a major gathering on Kashmir at its spiritual headquarters in Darul Uloom Deoband on October 4 — a gingerly first attempt in 60 years to align Kashmiri Muslims with the rest of the community.
The meet is being viewed as significant as both the Jamiat and Deoband have opposed India’s Partition along religious lines and have historically shirked the Kashmir issue.
Deoband and its social front, Jamiat, want to offset any adverse impact on Muslims at large as the separatist unrest in Kashmir is converging with the Ayodhya verdict.
The clergy feels Muslims elsewhere may be made to bear the brunt of an escalating crisis in Kashmir and the pro-Pakistani stance of some of its separatist leaders. Jamiat’s attempt to reach out to the Valley may have broad support from the Centre, sources said.
“The aim is to build a consensus on what our policy on Kashmir should be. We cannot leave Kashmir’s Muslims alone in this suffering,” Jamiat leader Mahmood Madni told HT.
The venue of the meet —Deoband, the seat of Sunni Islam — has raised eyebrows. “Both Jamiat and Deoband have been at the vanguard of opposing the two-nation theory. Coming forward to play a positive role, which can assuage the feelings of Kashmiris and bring them into the mainstream, will send a strong signal to those Islamising the Kashmir movement,” Akhraul Wasey, head of Jamia Millia Islamia’s Islamic Studies department, said.