Separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Friday rejected Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s autonomy offer as a solution to the Kashmir problem.
“Kashmir does not need a job or an economic package…its struggle is for azaadi (freedom). And autonomy is not acceptable to us,” said the Hurriyat chairman, who was allowed to pray at the Jamia Masjid after six weeks on Friday.
“The Kashmir problem either has to be addressed as per the UN resolution or one can grant people the right to self-determination in a phased manner,” said the Mirwaiz, while addressing thousands of devotees who performed Friday prayers at the mosque.
Security forces were withdrawn from most areas of downtown Srinagar to facilitate the prayers.
“I want to make it clear to the state government that Kashmir is a Muslim-majority place,” Umar, who heads the moderate wing of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, said. “It’s unacceptable to us that our religious rights are curtailed by not allowing us to offer prayers at the historic Jamia Masjid.”
Describing the mosque as “central to Kashmir’s politics”, he said that there would be no peace in Kashmir unless the Hurriyat demands like withdraw of troops from civilian areas and laws like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, and release of political prisoners were fulfilled.
Unified Command meet deferred
A meeting of the Unified Command chaired by Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah was not held on Friday as senior police and paramilitary officials were engaged in law and order duties.
The heads of the army, police and paramilitary were to apprise Abdullah of the situation in the state during the meeting. Abdullah was to chair the meeting.
Sources close to the chief minister’s office said that Abdullah had decided not to attend the meeting in the wake of four killings in the police and security forces firing.
The decision could pit the chief minister against the security apparatus. The meeting will be held on Saturday. htc