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J&K separatists join hands against Pandit rehabilitation plan

mumbai Updated: May 25, 2016 07:44 IST

SRINAGAR: Kashmiri separatists have forged an issue-based unity to oppose the establishment of “exclusive colonies” for Pandits and retired military personnel in the Valley, a first since the 2008 Amarnath land agitation.

They are divided ideologically and politically, but the Valley’s three prominent separatist leaders — Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik — met on Monday evening to challenge the PDP-BJP government over “plans” to rehabilitate displaced Pandits and ex-servicemen of the state.

Hardline Hurriyat spokesman Ayaz Akbar said Mirwaiz and Malik went to Geelani’s home at Hyderpora in Srinagar and held a closed-door meeting for about 90 minutes. “This is the first time after 2008 that all the three leaders have come together to discuss any grave issue regarding Kashmir,” he said.

In 2008, the three held a series of meetings to mount a joint attack after the PDP-Congress government of the time transferred a piece of land to Shri Amarnath Shrine Board, with manages the annual Hindu pilgrimage. The agitation and counter-agitation in Jammu shut the state for months.

In a unique show of strength, the trio has now planned a major showdown on Thursday and Friday to prevent what they said was an attempt to change the state’s demography. They called for a complete shutdown on Thursday and “peaceful protests” after Friday prayers against proposed plans for “creation of the separate clusters for the Pandits, establishing of Sainik colonies, harassment of the Jammu Muslims, BJP leader Choudhary Lal Singh’s warning to the Jammu Muslims of repeating 1947 carnage and induction of new anti-Kashmir industrial policy”.

A joint statement said the time has come for the people to “rise to defend their existence, individuality, their Muslim identity and the disputed status of the Kashmir and to start an effective struggle against the dangerous plans of RSS in Kashmir”.

Reports said at least three sites have been i dentified by the Jammu and Kashmir gover nment for setting up colonies for displaced Pandits, who migrated from the Valley after militancy erupted in 1989. The government denied that the colonies will be exclusively for Pandits.

The separatists defended their opposition, saying they can’t remain silent over such issues and focus only on their main demand of “freedom”.

They alleged the policy makers want to settle the non-state subjects in the state on different pretexts.

“Creation of Sainik colonies and separate townships for Pandits is a part of this policy. India is using the same experience i n Jammu and Kashmir, which Israel had tested in Palestine and the Indian government is in close contact with the policy makers of Israel in this regard.”

First Published: May 25, 2016 07:44 IST