Separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani has paid tributes to the two Hizbul Mujahideen militants who killed decorated Indian army officer Colonel MN Rai and head constable Sanjeev Kumar Singh during an encounter in south Kashmir’s Tral area this week.
Geelani, chairman of the hardline Hurriyat group, sent a high-level party delegation to meet the two Kashmiri youths’ relatives on Wednesday, while saying their “sacred blood” would not go in vain and India must accept the ground realities.
“Due to the rigid and stubborn approach of the Indian government, the youth are opting for gun instead of pen and this policy is costing precious human lives in the region,” said the 84-year-old in an emailed statement from Delhi where he is receiving medical care.
One of the two militants, who were also killed in the encounter, was the son of a head constable with Jammu and Kashmir police. Sources said his maternal uncle was a militant too, while his cousin was arrested last year after he stabbed a policeman and tried to snatch his rifle.
“The violent path adopted by Kashmiri youth is not any act of hobby nor is it the result of unemployment. They are the students of different colleges and universities who are fully aware about the historical perspective and the tragedy of Kashmir,” Geelani said. “The sacred blood will never go in vain. India has to accept the ground realities.”
Syed Salahuddin, chairman of the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK)-based United Jihad Council also joined Valley separatists in paying tributes to the two militants.
“The two fighters fought bravely and demonstrate the fact that every Mujahid (warrior) of Hizb is committed to Kashmir cause and is ready to sacrifice his precious life,” he said.
Voices from Jammu said the separatists were unnerved by their weakening support base, while the state BJP unit demanded Geelani be deported to Pakistan.
“These are desperate calls from separatists as well as mainstream politicians in the Valley. Whenever they start finding their bearings weakening, they opt for such proclamations that carry no weight,” said Ajay Chrungoo, chairman of Panun Kashmir – a movement to rehabilitate Kashmiri Pandits in exile.
“Geelani should to be deported to Pakistan or booked under the charge of sedition,” said BJP spokesperson Hari Om. “Enough is enough.”
(With inputs from Vikram Sharma in Jammu)