Voicing deep concern at growing sectarian divisions in Kashmir, speakers at a JKLF seminar on religious unity said that tensions among the masses were being ratcheted up by “agencies” bent upon fanning doctrinal differences.
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Civil society members urged religious leaders to make “things clear for the people” as, according to them, some planted groups were trying to sow confusion and discord in the valley.
The JKLF chairman, Muhammad Yasin Malik said that the purpose of holding the seminar was to provide religious leaders and civil society common platform to share their views, discuss differences and work on them.
“When you have your religious leaders divided you cannot have unity among the people in the society. You will see chaos everywhere. There is a great need for these heads, weather political or religious, to get united for a greater cause,” Malik told.
“A message should go out to people that we are one and we are united. We cannot achieve our goal by remaining divided,” Malik said. “For this, the onus lies on all these religious leaders”.
He said that some “invisible hands” were behind recent mysterious fire incidents at Kashmir’s places of worship.
“Our masjids and shrines are dearer to us than our life and property. We cannot tolerate desecration of, or attack on, these places of worship,” he said. “We all need to exercise utmost restraint and maintain unity among ourselves at this juncture to foil the evil designs of our enemy who wants to drive a wedge among us with such vile acts.”
Lauding Malik’s role bringing various strands on one platform, senior separatist leader, Shabir Shah said: “We must appreciate Yasin Malik Sahab for his endeavor to unite all of us here,”
He accused India of sowing seeds of sectarian divisions in the Valley.
“India has failed on every front to divide the valley. But now they are using different tactics to make a mess here,” he said. “We have a huge army of widows and orphans so we need to think about them as well. We have our youngsters who have scarified their precious lives for this cause, so it shouldn’t get maligned”.
Noted columnist, Zahid Ghulam Muhammad, or ZGM, said that times had changed and the attempts were being made to malign the religion of Islam.
“All the Maulanas, and religious heads should put their heads to counter conspiracies being hatched against the Kashmiri society,” he said.
Addressing the seminar, the president of the Ahl-e-Bayt Foundation, Maulana Ghulam Rasool Noori said: “There is a need for our religious heads to see how things are being presented to us. Our clerics have to see who is behind such conspiracies which are eating up our society”.
“Until our clerics remain divided, don’t expect any change on the ground. The moment there is change in their thought, you will see change in the mindset of the masses,” another speaker, Dr Latief Alkandi, said
“Our people are losing track of Islamic principles and preaching, so all of us need to join hands to work for one cause,” the president of the Saut-ul Awlia, Moulana Abdul Rashid Dawoodi, said.
“Different versions of unity are coming up. Some say unity should be based on nationalism; some believe it should be based on religion, and so on, which is creating a chaotic atmosphere,” senior executive member of the Jam’at-e-Islami,
advocate Shiekh Ali Muhammad said.
“It was our Prophet PBUH who taught the world what unity and peace was. But see now where his followers are. They are divided into different sects, into different thoughts,” he added. He said people lack the institution of unity and urged people to adopt the way of the Quran and the Sunnah.
“It is a fact that we are divided, but where does the way of unity start,” veteran separatist leader, Maulana Abbas Ansari asked.
The function was attended by civil society members, doctors, lawyers, journalists and members of various religious organizations. Others who spoke included Maulana Ghulam Rasool Hami Tehreek-Hurriyat leader Altaf Ahmad Shah.