Govt to rope in Imams for restoration of peace

Srinagar:  In a bid to end the 25 day long unrest in the Valley, the state government has directed the officials to instantly rope in Masjid Imams and other “society leaders” for asking the youth to “abhor violence.”

Official documents reveal that Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Baseer Ahmed Khan has  issued formal orders to all the District Commissioners of Kashmir province to immediately initiate “Interaction with the Numberdars/ Chowkidars/ Auqaf Bodies and Social leaders to restore peace and normalcy.” In Kashmir, Auqaf bodies are institutions looking after Muslim community’s common properties, particularly Masjids, shines, graveyards and other specified properties, with Imam and Auqaf having central position.

“You will recall the instructions regarding involvement of Numberdars/ Chowkidars and Auqaf Committee members for restoration of peace and for contacting the youth to abhor violence. In this connection, the necessary feedback which was required to be submitted by you has not been received till date,” reads the order issued by Divisional Commissioner vide number Div-Com/PS misc/2016/72129 dated August 1, 2008, a copy of which lies with Kashmir Observer.

The order has set a 2-day deadline for the Deputy Commissioners of Srinagar, Budgam, Ganderbal, Baramulla, Anantnag, Pulwama, Bandipora, Shopian and Kupwara, to respond.

“You will ensure the submission within two days positively and also indicate village wise involvement of Numberdars/ Chowkidars/ Auqaf Committee and other social leaders with the process,” reads the order duly signed by the Divisional Commissioner.

Official sources said the decision to rope in Imams and Masjid management committees for restoration of peace was taken after consultation with Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti.

Sources said at a closed-door meeting, the government resolved that Masjids can play a key role in “de-indoctrination of the youth, who are being put on the track of violence by anti-national elements.”

A senior official posed in Pulwama said given the seriousness of the directives, the administration may need to summon the Imams and other “social leaders” through police. “We had sent them invite to attend meeting with us but most of them declined to come forward, now we may have to issue summons through concerned police stations,” said the official asking not to be named.

His colleague in Ganderbal district said the Masjid Imams have already been contacted. “We plan to issue a list of do’s and don’ts, which will be tactfully conveyed to the youth through Masjids,” the official said.

Another official said Imams have already been asked to be “pro-peace through their sermons.” “We have already asked the Imams not to adhere to the Hurriyat calendar in the interest of restoration of peace,” the official said.

While the government has often been terming protesters as unruly mobs resorting to violence, those taking to streets say the they were being denied right to give vent to their feelings.

Kashmir has been facing “worst-ever humanitarian crises” since July 8 when Hizb commander Burhan Muzaffar Muzaffar Wani was killed. Over 50 people have died since while over 3000 are wounded. Also over 300 are feared to   lose eyesight due to pellet gunfire.

Last week, Inspector General of Police, SJM Geelani told media that there was no improvement in situation in Kashmir and it continues the same as was on the day when Kashmir erupted in protests against Burhan’s killing.

Amid massive breakdown of law and order, the government has been trying multiple means to restore normalcy, but seemingly all in vain. On July 21, when police officially announced that there would be no relaxation in curfew anywhere in the Valley, the government reopened schools. The result was zero turnout at educational institutions.


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