Sunday, April 17, 2011


By: Bilal Bashir Bhat
Srinagar April 17 (Only Kashmir): Quoting from the epic Mahabharata, hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani on Sunday sought to reach out to the Kashmiri Pandit families who returned to the Valley after two decades, assuring them that they would be safe. 81-year-old Geelani drove to the transit camp located 70 km, addressed nearly 100 Kashmiri Pandit members who had returned recently after the state government's appeal to the people who fled the Valley in the wake of the outbreak of militancy in 1980s to come back.
While welcoming them, Geelani asked them to move to their ancestral homes and not live in isolated places. He assured them that they would be safe as the fight of the separatists was not against them.
Taking out a leaf from the Mahabharata, Geelani narrated the famous conversation between Arjuna and Lord Krishna when Pandavas were taking on the Kauravas.
"When Arjuna faltered in the fight against Kauravas, Maharaj Krishna told him that it was a battle based on principles. You have to fight even own brothers for principles," Geelani said while claiming that his struggle was based on principles.
"I welcome you on behalf of the majority community. You are being called migrants, but you are not migrants. You are our brothers, you are a part of this society, you are a part of our body," Geelani said.
Geelani also quoted Quranic verses about humanity and brotherhood.
"Our fight with them (Centre) is based on principles and we will not negotiate on our principles," he said.
Later, members of the Pandit community spoke to Geelani about issues ranging from proper accommodation, salaries to ration.
The Hurriyat leader later visited another Kashmiri Pandit transit camp at Mattan in south Kashmir's Anantnag district.
At the camp, while talking to members of the minority community, Geelani asked them to return to their ancestral homes.
"Our stand is that you should not have been put in these separate zones but you should return to your homes where you lived 20 years ago. You should live with your neighbours," he said.
Maharaj Kishan Kaul, who lived in Dal-Seer village in Anantang district before migrating to Jammu in 1990 and is now living in the camp in Mattan, said Geelani's visit is an "important step" for them.
"For a month, I wanted to go to my village but I felt insecure. We were waiting for Geelani's call," he said.
At the Vessu camp, Rohit Singh Jamwal, who was two years old when his family migrated from their ancestral village in Kulgam, said it felt good to be here.
"But we feel insecure.... insecure to move out in the market because you never know. What we want is the support of the majority community and Geelani's visit is a bit of relief," Jamwal, a teacher and an IAS aspirant, said.
As Geelani left the camp in Mattan, he was followed by a large cavalcade of police vehicles, including senior police officials, who were monitoring his movement.
The Hurriyat leader later went to the houses of the four youth who were killed during protests last year.


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