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Valley strike over plan to resettle Kashmiri Pandits

india Updated: Jun 24, 2014 01:26 IST
Peerzada Ashiq
Peerzada Ashiq
Hindustan Times
Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front

Separatists in Srinagar expressed unhappiness at the reported move of the Centre to grant citizenship to 1947 West Pakistan refugees and its proposal to settle migrant Kashmiri Pandits in enclaves in Kashmir.

A strike called by the separatist Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) over the move to grant citizenship to the refugees living in Jammu paralysed normal life in many parts of Kashmir on Monday. The strike was also to protest against the BJP and RSS observing the death anniversary of Jan Sangh founder Shyama Prasad Mookherji as national integration day.

"The enemies of J&K are again out to destroy our Muslim identity. The RSS and the BJP are planning to declare lakhs of outsider refugees as citizens here to change the demography of the state. People of Kashmir will not remain silent spectators to these nefarious designs," said JKLF leader Yasin Malik, who was detained in Srinagar along with his associates while attempting to launch a 'Quit Kashmir' movement with a march towards Lal Chowk.

JKLF activists at a protest march in Srinagar on Monday.(AP photo)

Monday saw thin traffic on roads across the Valley. Most schools, government offices, banks and petrol pumps were closed for the day.

To foil Malik's rally, authorities imposed curfew-like restrictions in three sensitive areas. Dozens of JKLF leaders were arrested in raids over the last four days and razor sharp concertina wires were laid at all intersections leading to Lal Chowk.

Meanwhile, hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Geelani said the plan to create special enclaves for returning Kashmiri Pandit migrants was dangerous.

Kashmiri Pandits fled from the Valley after militancy broke out in 1989.

"No Kashmiri Muslim is opposed to the return of the Pandits. But by creating separate cities for them the government is working on a dangerous plan to harm our centuries-old brotherhood, to divide our society and to give our freedom struggle a communal colour," he said.

He said that chief minister Omar Abdullah had been called to New Delhi recently and asked to "identify 16,800 kanals (approx 2,082 acres) of land in Kashmir to establish three separate cities for Kashmiri Pandits."

"It's a grave issue… We will try to create a national consensus against these policies of the Indian government and will start consultation with (separatist) groups and religious organizations," he said.