The top separatist leadership of the Valley held a day-long seminar in Srinagar on Sunday to discuss the proposed establishment of exclusive colonies for migrant Pandits and ex-servicemen and in unequivocal words opposed the same.
Though the government has repeatedly cracked down on the separatist leadership in Kashmir in the recent past, the seminar took place without any restrictions. Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq – leaders of the two factions of the Hurriyat Conference – and representatives of the Jam mu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) attended the event.
However, JKLF chief Yasin Malik, who was released on bail on Saturday after a week-long detention in a case related to the 1987 elections, was arrested again the same night.
For the first time in eight years, Geelani, Farooq and Malik had come together last month and forged an issue-based united programme. Later, Mirwaiz and Malik went to Geelani’s home and held a closed-door meeting for about 90 minutes.
Political observers said it was “unexpected” that the government allowed Sunday’s seminar because in the recent past, it has been continuously trying to prevent such events called by the Hurriyat. Also, the seminar saw the coming together of the new ‘joint’ separatist leadership.
The seminar titled ‘proposed separate colonies and the ambiguous policies of the government’ saw participation from Hurriyat leaders as well as civil society members. Talking about the seminar, spokesperson of the Geelani faction of the Hurriyat, Ayaz Akbar, said the joint leadership decided that it would completely oppose the construction of Sainik and Pandit colonies by the government.
“The leaders said the government was ambiguous on the issue and was not saying clearly what exactly the matter is,” Akbar said. He added that the leaders said the construction of Pandit colonies was nothing but an attempt to give Kashmiri Muslims a bad name on communal lines.
“Geelani has said instead of Rs 20 lakh, the government should give Pandits Rs 30 lakh each for rehabilitation but they should come back to their original places and not separate colonies,” Akbar said.
Earlier, the PDP-BJP government in the state had made it clear that there will be no separate townships for Kashmiri Pandits but transit accommodation will be provided to them till they are comfortable returning to their native places. CM Mehbooba Mufti had also said the Sainik colony was proposed to be established only for “the state subject ex-servicemen”.