Mainstream, Separatist Camps Shut Eyes To Sabri’s Killing

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Srinagar: Even as the people of India and Pakistan expressed their deepest outraged over the killing of famous Sufi singer Amjad Sabri, who was shot dead in Karachi by militants on June 22, Kashmir’s separatist and mainstream camps remained conspicuous for their silence over the gruesome incident in the neighbouring Pakistan.

On one hand the social media was flooded with condolence messages, with people, mostly fans, paying rich tributes to the departed soul, while on the other, it was absence of any reaction from the Kashmir’s leadership, which otherwise takes a lead in condemning such incidents through formal handouts.

Leave apart mainstream politicians, senior separatist leaders including Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Dr Umer Farooq, in the past few years have been on the forefront of such condemnations. But his time they too remained silent over the killing, owned by a faction of the Pakistan Taliban. Sabri performed Qawwali, devotional music from the Sufi tradition, a practice opposed by the extremists.

Senior separatist leader and Media Head of the Hurriyat-M, Advocate Shahid Ul Islam said there was nothing deliberate over Hurriyat’s reaction to this killing. “Our stand is very clear: We condemn innocent killings in strongest words wherever they happen irrespective of any religious or political ideologies,” Shahid told Kashmir Observer. “We have even condemned civilian killings in blasts in India.”

He, however, candidly added that the leadership was “over-busy tracking situation on the home ground” adding this was why a formal handout could not be issued in a timely manner to condemn Sabri’s killing.

Interestingly, a day after the incident, Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti during her visit to border area of Samba, to attend a Sufti gathering, urged India and Pakistan to revive their peace process.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader made the appeal after joining thousands at the annual Urs at the shrine of revered Sufi saint Baba Chamliyal in Ramgarh sector near the Pakistan border. But she missed any reference to the Sufi singer’s killing.

Likewise, her predecessor and National Conference working-President Omar Abdullah, known for his instant tweets on various developments, didn’t tweet on Sabri’s killing leave alone issuing a formal condemnation.

Curiously, though, the government spokesperson and Education Minister, Naeem Akhter, on his Facebook account shared the video of Sabri’s last performance for a Ramzan special program on Pakistan television, he was selective in his words. “Maestros parting invocation,” Naeem posted on Facebook alongside video of Sabri’s recitation of his last emotional couplet: “Jab Waqt-e-Qaza Ayye, Aaqa(SAW) Deedar Atta Karna.” The video is trending online.

National Conference leader and Omar Abdullah’s close aide, Tanvir Sadiq downplayed the matter saying there was nothing intentional in skipping condemnation of Sabri’s killing.  

“We have always been for the sake of humanity, but the point is that here everyone one was so shocked at the gruesome killing of their favourite Sufi singer that every heart was into mourning and presumably couldn’t give it a formal touch the way you people have pointed out,” Sadiq said.

“Basically, in his case, most of us happen to be his fans. And, thus we all were emotionally shocked at this personal loss. Amjad Sabri is a martyr; no one can deny this fact,” Sadiq added.

Omar’s Political Secretary, however, quickly added that the situation in Kashmir over the months has turned “so tense and alarming” that NC’s focus remains “safeguard of life and interests of the Valleyites.”  “From land to human life, everything belonging to Kashmir has come at stake in the hands of RSS… So, much in accordance with ‘charity begins at home’, priority naturally remains Kashmir.”

Noted human rights activist Khurram Parvaiz said it was the responsibility of everyone not Hurriyat alone to condemn such killings. “It’s not the responsibility of Hurriyat alone it’s the responsibility of everyone including the mainstream camps to condemn such incidents,” Khurram said adding “Our reaction will determine what kind of place we want to be in future.”

Khurram, however, said the “prevalent situation in Kashmir has kept the leadership more concerned over serious developments taking place back home in the Valley then elsewhere.”

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