As Kashmir Faces Identity Crisis, Clergy Can’t Act As A Mute Spectator, says Mirwaiz Umar

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Mirwaiz Umar Farooq (file photo by Shahid Tantray)
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq (file photo by Shahid Tantray)

The Srinagar based head priest Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who heads a faction of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), said on Friday that “Kashmir’s clergy has a vital role vis-à-vis the politically disputed nature of Kashmir” and that “it [the clergy] can’t remain a silent spectator on serious political issues”.

This the Mirwaiz said in response to the recent contentious remarks that “the clergy is selectively raking up controversial issues on Article 370 in mosques” made by Jammu and Kashmir’s first woman Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti in the legislative assembly on June 22.

“The PDP-BJP coalition government is trying to push Kashmiris to the wall by provocative policies and objectionable measures like the construction of composite townships for migrant Kashmir Pandits, separate colonies for ex-soldiers, and proposing minority status to Hindus in Jammu and Kashmir, etcetera. Kashmir’s clergy will not stay silent or act as a mute spectator on such politically motivated issues,” Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said.

Taking a dig at Mehbooba Mufti, the Hurriyat chairman said that Kashmiris were facing onslaught from all corners and that it was now a question of identity crisis for the Muslim population living in Jammu and Kashmir.

“Though we do not believe in making it Muslim versus Hindu issue, but the fact is that Kashmir is facing identity crisis and an onslaught from the present government headed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP),” Umar said.

Earlier, Mehbooba Mufti had hit out at Muslim Imams of the Kashmir Valley, accusing them of “selectively raking up controversies over Article 370 and other sensitive matters” in their Friday sermons in the mosques.

“Do you know how many cases of molestation have been reported after the Handwara case? There are allegations against some teachers. But they [preachers] only talk about it [molestation of the Handwara girl] when the men in uniform tease girls,” Mehbooba had said while replying to the discussion on the demand of grants for the departments held by her in Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly.

She had also questioned the capacity of the clergy in relation to protecting the Article 370, a provision that grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Indian Constitution.

“Woh kya protect karenge Article 370/how would they [the clergy] protect Article 370? They are looking for something else, adding that

“We [the elected representatives] have to protect it. This Article 370 is the legacy that we have inherited from Sheikh Sahab [Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah] and Maharaja [Hari Singh] in 1947.”

In response to Ms Mehbooba’s remarks the Mirwaiz said that “we can’t remain mute spectators because we have to safeguard our interests. Every decision that this PDP led government is taking it seems that it is buckling under the pressure of the BJP”.

“We won’t let it happen that Kashmir’s interests are hurt. Kashmir’s clergy has a vital role to play,” he said.

Mirwaiz Umar further said that Ms Mehbooba Mufti appears as a “confused soul”.

“She is a confused soul. On the one hand, she gives unsolicited suggestions that the clergy should talk about the environment and protection of the Dal Lake, and, on the other hand, she wants us to remain silent on sensitive political issues,” the head priest said.

“Doesn’t she [Mehbooba] know that we [the clergy] do talk about environment protection and other social issues on a regular basis? But all such issues are secondary when we are facing existential and identity crises, and onslaught on Muslim identity and Kashmiri Nationalism,” the Mirwaiz added.

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