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India exploiting panchayat polls: Sallah-u-Din
Amarnath pilgrims have nothing to fear
SRINAGAR, Nov 3 : Amid the growing controversy over the Amarnath road issue, Syed Sallah-u-Din, chairman United Jehad Council (UJC) and supreme commander of Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) today said the pilgrims have nothing to fear.

He also stated that “more the government tries to protect panches and sarpanches, they will be targeted.”

In an interview to Tehelka, Sallah-u-Din said, “First, let me make it clear that we are not against the pilgrimage. To paint us as such is itself part of the politics of the yatra. And this is primarily responsible for vitiating the atmosphere. What we want is for the pilgrimage to remain limited to the pilgrimage alone. We do not want execution of a political agenda in its garb. We do not want a motorway through an ecologically sensitive area. We do not want infrastructure along the road. We do not want residential quarters. We do not want conversion of the scenic spot of Pahalgam into Amarnath city, which will be a no-go area for Muslims. We will resist it.”

He alleged that a non-state board (Shri Amarnath Shrine Board) is organising the yatra. “This board is under the control of New Delhi and works independent of the state government. It forces the state government to do its bidding. By all means go for the pilgrimage. But if you carry forward an agenda through it, it will engender trouble in Kashmir,” the UJC chairman said.

About the recent deaths during Yatra, he said “We need to put the whole issue into perspective. Why was there loss of lives in the first place? Firstly, most of the people who died had serious health issues. Even the Shrine Board said that many elderly pilgrims who died had not given a correct account of their health problems, and the medical certificates they produced were fake. Secondly, the harsh weather and freak accidents, too, have caused deaths. Now, right-wing parties have made this an excuse to approach the Supreme Court of India. They want the court to order concrete infrastructure along the yatra route. But we think the prevailing messy state of affairs can be overcome with more efficient management of the yatra, with rigorous health check-ups, by sending up less number of yatris to the shrine every day, and by curtailing the duration of the yatra.”

Sallah-u-Din asked where is the need for creating a large-scale infrastructure, hospitals, residential quarters, roads and possibly a separate city. “This only shows a long-term plan to undermine the Muslim-majority character of the Valley and an aggressive bid to revive the Hindu past. I have said we are not against pilgrimage. And we understand that ordinary Hindus have nothing to do with New Delhi’s political designs. They only want to perform their pilgrimage and nobody will stop them from doing that.”

About Hizbul Mujahideen’s position on panchayat institutions, he said, “Panchayat institutions are meant to take care of local affairs. But this is not their role in Kashmir, where they are exploited to serve pro-India political parties and build vote banks. Panchayats in the state are being projected by India as a referendum on Kashmir.”

“What is of real concern for us is that panchayats are projected as a referendum on Kashmir. New Delhi advertises the participation in panchayat polls as yet another instance of Kashmiris reposing their faith in India. What should open the eyes of pro-India politicians in the state is how in response to Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari’s speech in the UN, India’s former foreign minister SM Krishna talked about elections in the state as a substitute for plebiscite. India exploits the panchayat polls both at the national and international level as a sign of peace and a sign of Kashmiris embracing India, which is not true. We did not sacrifice one lakh people over the past two decades for New Delhi to declare things normal in Kashmir by holding panchayat polls in the state. By no means does all this show that panchayats in Kashmir are apolitical institutions to exclusively look after grassroots development issues,” UJC chairman said.

He alleged that Panches and sarpanches are exploited by India to project Kashmir as pro-India, and as such, they will continue to be targeted. “No matter how much the government tries to secure them, they will still be attacked. This is why we call on them to resign from their posts and not allow themselves to be used to undermine the liberation movement in Kashmir. Moreover, we also call for the boycott of the Block Development Council polls,” Sallah-u-Din said.
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News Updated at : Sunday, November 4, 2012
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