Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Srinagar peace march for a university

Srinagar, the summer capital of restive Jammu and Kashmir routinely fashioned into a theatre of politically obsessed displays which often turn violent, witnessed atypical peaceful protest march on Monday (March 12, 2012). That for setting up an Islamic university in the predominantly Muslim Himalayan, the longstanding demand of a socio-religious organisation which appears to have gone haywire.

Hundreds of members and supporters of Jamiat-e-Ahle Hadith, which promotes Wahhabism, a religious movement or a branch within Sunni Islam, and is also involved in social work in Jammu and Kashmir, marched along the streets of uptown Srinagar to press its demand for Trans-World Muslim University (TWMU). It was first proposed by Moulana Showhat Ahmed Shah, a prominent Kashmiri cleric and a familiar face in temperate camp of the separatists, who was killed in a remotely detonated bomb outside a mosque in Srinagar in April 2011. He had earlier even won the wrath of hard-line separatists and religious radicals after he and some other senior Jamiat leaders met the then J&K Governor Lt. Gen. (retired) S.K. Sinha during the Amarnath land row to seek his help toward establishing the university in Srinagar. 

Nevertheless, Monday’s peace march which culminated into a protest rally held at Srinagar’s Press Enclave was not fully apolitical in nature. The participants were chanting slogans against the coalition government headed by Omar Abdullah. They were furious over the alleged “disruption” in the execution of the plan and blamed J&K PCC chief Saifuddin Soz and others in the coalition partner for it. Moulana Gulam Rasool Malik, the Jamiat chief, warned that if the ordinance to establish the TWMU was not passed during the ongoing budget session of the State Assembly it would call for protests which will be a "flood".  he said, "If the ordinance is not passed during this session, then this government will be responsible for any break down in law and order." 

Without naming anybody, the Jamiat chief said that some unknown people had "ill-informed" New Delhi that the university would be a breeding ground for terrorists and hardliners. "Our organization's contribution in the country's freedom struggle to known to all. We want to tell these people that the doors of this university will be open to everyone irrespective of his religion, region, caste or colour. It would only help towards furthering the standard of education in Jammu and Kashmir and beyond.”

A bills seeking setting up TWMand Sheikh-ul-Alam Research University after Kashmir’s patron saint Sheikh Noorurddin Wali in the Valley and Guru Nanak Khalsa University in Jammu were passed by the J&K Assembly last year. But the plan hit major roadblock when ruling National Conference-Congress combine strongly opposed it in the Upper House or Legislative Council. The bills were subsequently to a joint select committee. Earlier the BJP members had in the Lower House strongly opposed the setting up of TWMU, citing the varsity would become a launching pad for “Islamic fundamentalism”. Yusuf Jameel/Srinagar 

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