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'Why object to Islamic rule in Kashmir?'

August 25, 2008
The allotment of land for the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board was a trigger for the azadi sentiment in Kashmir, Hurriyat Conference Chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who has emerged a crowd-puller among the separatist leaders, tells Aasha Khosa.

We all know the history of Kashmiri separatism but what was the immediate provocation for the ongoing massive protests?

The upsurge has not happened suddenly. The sentiment for azadi was always there. However, the transfer of 50 acres of forest land to the Amarnath shrine board made Kashmiris realise once again how insecure they feel. This acted as a trigger. Suddenly, people have started thinking about the 100,000 acres of land that is with the army.

Under the guise of "Operation Sadhbhavana," the army has usurped huge parcels of land and seems to be expanding its network. I have information that the army has seized 23 acres of land for opening a school in Pahalgam.

The schools being opened by the army are for Kashmiri children. Why object to this?

I know the schools are meant for Kashmiris. But they are also meant to make them sing Vande Mataram and not offer namaz. The aim of these schools is to turn Kashmiri children into pure Indians. This is cultural aggression on our Islamic values and is not acceptable to us. In fact, apart from fighting for the right to self-determination for 62 years, we have also been fighting against the cultural aggression by India.

Image: Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani. Photographs: Tauseef Mustafa/AFP/Getty Images.

Also see: In Jammu, a tangled tale is written in blood

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