The outgoing governor of Jammu and Kashmir, Lt Gen SK Sinha (retd) maintained on Friday that the demand for a separate Kashmir nation was rooted in ‘religious fundamentalism’.
“Religious fundamentalism is at the root of separatism in Kashmir,” he declared in an exclusive interview with the HT on the eve of relinquishing his gubernatorial position. NN Vohra is slated to take over from him.
“This fundamentalism manifests itself in many ways. One of these is the demand for Kashmiri nationhood,” said Sinha. “What is Kashmiri nationhood? I fail to understand. The separatists are negating history by saying they are close to Central Asia, not to India.”
Sinha claimed that he had been vilified during his tenure by separatist and communal elements because he tried to change the mental attitudes of the people of Kashmir. “I was said to be pursuing a communal agenda because I set out to change the people’s mindset, he said. “The charge is ridiculous.”
He pointed to two key initiatives he’d taken — getting a shrine at Budgam renovated at the behest of Muslims, and persuading Pakistani rock group Junoon to perform in Srinagar. “These efforts hurt fundamentalists, as I was succeeding in changing people’s mindset,” he said.
He also referred to the controversy over his efforts to have temporary shelters along the way for pilgrims traveling to Amarnath. He was charged with trying to change the demography of the state by getting non-Kashmiris to settle in the region.