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'Whatever Kashmiris decide will have a tremendous impact on India'

By Sheela Bhatt
October 05, 2010 00:44 IST
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The Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Hind (JUH) will be holding a first of it's kind conference on the Kashmir issue in Deoband on Sunday. While talking to rediff.com, Mehboob Madani, JUH chief confirmed the news and said that Indian Muslims would deliberate the issue in such a manner for the first time.

Since 1947, most of the well-established Muslim religious and social organisations have had the same stand on Kashmir as mainstream India. Except the Indian Mujahidden and similar militant organisations, very few established bodies have elaborated their views on Kashmir. Indian Muslims have generally believed that Kashmir is an integral part of India.

One of the reasons Musilms have not raised the issue of Kashmir is the fear of being dubbed as " Pakistani agents," but, the recent killings of 108 civilians and the increasing influence of Wahabi Islam on a section of Kashmiris has made Indian Muslims aware of the gravity of situation.

The Deobandi movement was founded in response to the British rule in India. Deobandi Islam is widely practiced in Pakistan and this school of thought  is believed to be the inspiration for the Taliban. The Indian school of Deobandi Islam is widely held to be less  strident and conservative than its Pakistani counterpart. The Deobandi's proposal to discuss Kashmir has nevertheless raised a few eyebrows.

However,a senior retired bureaucrat and security expert told rediff.com, "I don't see anything wrong in this. We know for sure that Indian Muslims know better than anybody else why Kashmir should not go with Pakistan. If they are building a bridge than there is nothing to worry."

Sources claim that it is also possible that in long term the JUH may help the Centre to diffuse the situation in Kashmir by bridging the gap between them and the Kashmiris. Eventually they could become a buffer between the Centre and state.

JUH leaders say that the issue is evolving and it's difficult to say anything now. Madani is trying to chalk out new strategy to raise the Kashmir issue because he thinks that Kashmiris have "legitimate aspirations."

After the conference, a high-level delegation of the JUH would visit Kashmir. Kashmir is the only Muslim-majority state in India. There are less than 50 lakh Muslims in Kashmir Valley. If at all in future they take any decision on basis of religion it will have tremendous impact across the region including India, which has a Muslim population of more than 18 crore.

A JUH leader says, 'Whatever Kashmiri Muslims do or decide it will have an tremendous impact on Indian Muslims as well. Its better to understand the Kashmiris. If Kashmir is ours, then Kashmiris are ours too. The strategy of JUH is to first listen to sufferings of Kashmiris and later give them advice."

The JUH announced that they will hold a public meeting at Ram Lila Ground in New Delhi on October 30, "to launch an awareness campaign across India to sensitise the Indian government, civil society and general public about Kashmir."

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Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi
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