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Posted on 19 March 2011

We will continue to fight for azadi, says Geelani

A rightwing group of Kashmiris held a parallel conclave and sang anti-Geelani songs

Arpit Parashar
New Delhi

Hurriyat Conference (G) Chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani

For the first time in 22 years Hurriyat Conference (G) Chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani and former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Farooq Abdullah on 19 March spoke on a common platform.

They had last shared a platform in the Jammu and Kashmir assembly in 1989 before Geelani quit mainstream politics. The on ‘Kashmir: what next’, was organised by The India Today Group in their annual conclave in New Delhi. This is the first time Geelani has taken part in a discussion organised by an Indian media organisation.

There were sparks. Geelani pointed out in his opening remarks that Abdullah’s name was not in the list of speakers circulated in advance. “You can treat a disease but you cannot cure a habit. Farooq sahab is compelled by the habit of gate crashing and that is why he is among us today,” he said.

In his keynote before Geelani’s speech, Abdullah said, “It is the greatness of the Indian Republic that we have the guts to hear what we may not like to.” He rejected the calls for azadi saying, “We will accept everything but division. We are not ready for that.”

In his speech, Geelani said the Indian public must pay attention to the happenings in Kashmir. “You have celebrated the civil uprising in Egypt but kept your tongues locked and eyes shut to the plight of Kashmiris,” he said. “Why do you not open your hearts to us?” he asked.

He said the Kashmir dispute is about ‘broken promises by India’. “One lakh people have been killed in Kashmir, 7,000 women raped, 10,000 people missing, 100,000 tortured, 50,000 orphaned, 30,000 widowed, there are 2,700 unidentified graves, and 1,000 half-widows,” he claimed.

Farooq Abdullah

Geelani also alleged that the armed forces are indulging in mass exploitation of the natural resources of Kashmir. “Forests are being mauled in many areas. At least two lakh trees have been cut. That wood is being transported for making expensive furniture in India.” He said the Kashmiri people deserve the right to self-determination. “And we will continue to struggle for it.”

On the protests in Kashmir last summer, he said, “We have only held peaceful protests since 2008. But 200 people have died since then at the hands of the Indian forces. The people who killed them have not been punished till date. The people who killed 117 during the protests last year have also not been brought to book.”

While this was going on in the Taj Palace Hotel near Dhaula Kuan in New Delhi, around 150 members of the rightwing Kashmiri group Roots in Kashmir protested against the presence of Geelani at the conclave. They sang Kashmiri songs of protest. The songs were addressed to Geelani and translated into statements like “You are responsible for us (Pandits) living in exile”, “but we will not die, we will survive” and “the day will come when we will return to our homes (in Kashmir)”.

Parashar is Senior Correspondent with Tehelka.com.
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Posted on 19 March 2011



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