Published: August 8, 2014
The exiled Kashmiri Pandits have been trying to retain their connection with their homeland by visiting their shrines. Picture shows them offering prayers at the Kheer Bhawani temple in Kashmir Valley.
What does the Kashmiri separatist machinery achieve by preventing 40 persons from undertaking an ancient pilgrimage?
If you ever happen to drive towards Srinagar airport in Kashmir Valley, and if you have a little time to spare, take a little detour towards your left. Go to the posh Hyderpora colony off the airport road, and ask any passer-by for directions to the house of the pro-Pakistan separatist leader, Syed Ali Geelani.
Chances are that he will meet you. He is an extremely polite person — he never raises his voice and the expression on his face hardly changes. If he likes you, he will, after instructing his staff to get you tea, hold your hand and ask you to be the ambassador of Kashmir in “Hindustan.” As you leave, he will gift you a few books on Islam and tell you that it is not a religion but a “way of life” of which politics is an essential part.
You will love him.
Mr. Geelani often visits Delhi, mostly to seek medical treatment from some of India’s best doctors, including a Kashmiri Pandit. When he speaks to journalists, he refers to exiled Kashmiri Pandits as “brothers.” Without batting an eyelid, he says Kashmir is incomplete without them.
But besides his false avowal, Mr. Geelani, in practice, is opposed to the idea of sharing Kashmir with non-Muslims, especially the Pandits. A few days ago, owing to his strong opposition, the State government withdrew permission to a small group of Pandits to undertake the historical Konsar Nag yatra in south Kashmir. The group comprising 40 people, including women, had to halt its journey midway after Mr. Geelani’s supporters resorted to stone pelting and blocked the road leading to the pilgrim site. The pilgrims took shelter in a temple and were then forced to return to Srinagar.