With separatist leaders raising fingers of suspicion towards Kashmir valley’s fast spreading aetiqadi’s (people who visit shrines for salvation), the Carvaan-e-Islami (CeI) distanced itself from any government patronage on Thursday and vowed their support to “Kashmir’s movement”.
“From Delhi to Srinagar there is propaganda against us. There are people and groups working behind the curtains, who feel threatened, and are maligning our image and portray us in a particular fashion.
Our name is being dragged in sectarian divide. But we want to clear that our grouping considers Kashmir a dispute and nobody will be allowed to compromise on martyrs’ lives,” said CeI chief Ghulam Rasool Hami in Srinagar without naming any group or institution.
Hami’s statement came in the backdrop of utterances made by moderate and hardline Hurriyat chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Syed Ali Shah Geelani respectively, in which they accused New Delhi of patronizing a particular sect in Kashmir, while referring to the CeI.
The Mirwaiz, who is a sufi and also the valley’s head priest, even went ahead with accusing New Delhi of attempts to “Indian-ise and Hinduise” Kashmir’s sufi Islam.
“Our Sufi icons remain people like Shah Hamdam and Hazrat Makhdoom, who are pioneers of Islam in Kashmir. Yes, we do respect Ahmed Raza Khan as being a scholar from Barelvi but nothing more than that. We reject any new Sufi Islam being introduced here but will continue to preach as it was done 600 years ago in Kashmir,” said Hami.
The CeI, which owns a 24X7 channel to preach their version of Islam, organised a huge rally in February this year in which more than one lakh aetiqadis participated.
At present, there are competing ideologies in Kashmir of Deobandi, Wahabi and Ahl al-Hadith. The Wahabi and Ahl al-Hadith Muslims are opposed to the idea of paying obeisance at shrines and pray there. The police suspect that the attack on Peer Jalauddin, an aetiqadi, on March 17 in Srinagar was outcome of growing sectarian divide.
“There is no sectarian divide. Kashmir has centuries old history of tolerance and sense of pluralism. There is a deliberate attempt to break our unity, which we will not allow,” said Hami.
The CeI also distanced itself from state information director Farooq Renzu, who was part of their many rallies. “Renzu is not our member. We do not give membership to any bureaucrat. It’s unfortunate if any bureaucrat uses this platform for his petty interests,” said Hami.
The grouping also denied receiving any money from the sanctioned human resource development funds of Rs. 8.86 crore for Kashmir under the Scheme for Providing Quality Education (SPQEM) for madrasas.
“We neither applied for any grants nor received any till date. Our investigations revealed that either bank accounts don’t exist or there are fake institutions. The government figures is an attempt to defame us,” said Ghulam Rasool Hami, whose body governs more than 100 seminaries in the valley and Jammu regions.
The government in March claimed to have received 362 proposals through directorate of school education both in Jammu and Kashmir regions, most from CeI madrasas. Around Rs. 7 crore stands released after reverification of these madrasas for modern education, says the government report.
To diffuse sectarian tension, Hurriyat chairman Geelani, who is pro-Jamiat-e-Islami, is organizing a daylong conference of Muslim intellectuals and groups from all sects on May 5 to thrash out the issue.
“Unity is need of the hour. Attempts are being made to promote sectarian divide to dwarf the real issue of Kashmir,” said Geelani.