Our struggle akin to Mahabharat, says Geelani

A public meeting organised by the Delhi-based Centre for Policy Analysis (CPA) on Saturday was marred by pro-Geelani slogans by a group of students protesting against the house arrest of the senior separatist leader.

The meeting, held at a school, was attended by Agriculture Minister Ghulam Hassan Mir, Independent MLA Sheikh Abdur Rashid, Congress leader Muzaffar Parray besides the separatists Syed Ali Geelani, Naeem Ahmad Khan, Mohammad Abdullah Taari and Javed Mir. The CPA had also invited parliamentarians Arjun Roy (JD-U) and Shahid Siddiqui (Rashtriya Lok Dal), CPI(M) leader M. Saleem, CPI leader Aziz Pasha, academicians Kamal Mitra Chenoy, Anuradha Chenoy and journalist Zaheerudin Khan.

As Mr. Ghulam Hassan Mir was speaking, a group of youths shouted slogans in favour of Mr. Geelani and hooted at the Minister for not allowing the separatist leader to attend the meeting.

“I think we should not blame Delhi every time for everything,” said Mr. Mir. This was, however, objected to by the youth who blamed Delhi as well as the State government for “killing innocent people in Kashmir.” They raised slogans in favour of Mr. Geelani projecting him as the “only hero of the Kashmir struggle.” They also shouted slogans in favour of the Lashkar-e-Taiba and jehad.

Amid the din, Mr. Mir continued his speech and asserted that he was the elected representative of the people. When the organisers later announced that the police had allowed Mr. Geelani to attend the meeting, tempers cooled down.

“A battle of principle”

Later in his speech, Mr. Geelani equated the “struggle for freedom” in Jammu and Kashmir with the Mahabharat, saying it was being fought on the basis of principles.

“There was no consideration for blood relation between Kauravas and Pandavas as they were fighting a battle of principle and same is the case with us,” said Mr. Geelani. He asked New Delhi to budge from its traditional stand. He said the people of Kashmir were not against the people of India. “But we are fighting for our genuine rights and our struggle is against the government.”

Mr. Rashid said “Kashmiris do not hate the people of India but those who let us down.” He asked New Delhi not to ignore the Kashmiris and talk to them to resolve the political issue.

House arrest

Democratic Freedom Party leader M.A. Taari spoke on behalf of Shabir Shah, who was under house arrest.

Mr. Siddiqui said they had come to hear people's grievances. “Unless the problem of Kashmir is resolved, peace and prosperity was impossible in South Asia,” he said.

“Dialogue essential”

“Dialogue was the essence of democracy and that is why we are here to extend our hand to do that,” said Mr. Saleem.

CPA Director Seema Mustafa said the objective was to restore the democratic space in Kashmir. “This space has been choked by the government as it has resorted to suppression of the people's voice.”