Monday, February 7, 2011

Azadi not main concern in Kashmir, Islam is: Jamaat - Express India

Azadi not main concern in Kashmir, Islam is: Jamaat - Express India

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Azadi not main concern in Kashmir, Islam is: JamaatFont Size -A
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RIYAZ WANI
Posted: Feb 08, 2011 at 0757 hrs IST

Srinagar Kashmir's grand old religious-cum-political outfit Jamaat-i-Islami, which is the parent party of Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani, on Monday said that the propagation of religion, and not the pursuit of politics and power, is its primary concern, and hence, the struggle for Azadi is secondary for it.

“Jamaat was primarily founded for the propagation of religion. Our first duty is to fulfil this obligation. Resolution of Kashmir is secondary for us,” Jamaat Amir Sheikh Ghulam Hassan told The Indian Express.

“However, as a party we have to respond to the evolving situation and day-to-day problems. Kashmir is one such problem and we seek its peaceful settlement,” he added.

The Jamaat’s assertion is significant, as it seems to dissociate itself from the separatist narrative, despite being at the forefront of political groundwork for the separatist movement in 1989. Now Jamaat’s leaders are seen addressing only religious gatherings.

Hassan said there was no ban on the propagation of religion. “We can continue with our primary job of spreading the message of Islam. The Constitution of India doesn’t bar it. Otherwise, how could Jamaat-i-Islami, Hind, function in this country?,” he said.

Significantly, he also distanced his party from the hardline faction of Hurriyat Conference, led by Geelani. “We are not part of any Hurriyat faction. We don’t want to be one,” Hassan said.

He said Jamaat would want a unified separatist leadership and not a situation where leaders ply their own agenda and politics. “Let all factions come under one umbrella and formulate a common approach on Kashmir. We would like to be a part of such a formation,” he added.

When asked whether Geelani continued to be a member of the Jamaat, Hassan said that he is a member only on paper. “Geelani claims to be a member of the Jamaat, but he doesn’t follow the discipline and responsibilities of a Jamaat leader,” Hassan said.

When contacted, hardline Hurriyat spokesman Ayaz Akber said they had no knowledge of the Jamaat having pulled out of their faction. “Jamaat doesn’t attend our meetings. But the party has never formally conveyed its decision. We still consider Jamaat as part of the Hurriyat,” he said.

The Jamaat had supported Geelani when he broke away from the Hurriyat in 2003 and formed his own separatist faction. However, in recent years, its relations with Geelani have often come under severe strain with the party feeling “insufficiently consulted” in the Hurriyat’s decision-making process and Geelani floating a political party of his own, Tehreek-i-Hurriyat.

The breaking point came in April last year when a book in praise of Geelani criticised Jamaat for its passive political role in the past two decades and Geelani said nothing in Jamaat’s defense. Subsequently, the outfit felt slighted when Pakistan, while inviting separatist leadership to Islamabad, ignored the Jamaat.

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