Politics of Shrines in Kashmir by R C Ganjoo SignUp
Politics of Shrines in Kashmir
R C Ganjoo Bookmark and Share

Kashmir has the politico-religious-history behind it. Independence (Azadi), Self-rule, Accession to Pakistan, Right of Self Determination, Separate HomeLand, are the scarecrows carried by respective political parties for their own motives, making Kashmir problem more complex and complicated to reach at any firm conclusion. Kashmir issue, in fact has been stretched in different directions with the entry of new regional, national and international players.

As a matter of fact, it has been the history of Kashmir to rule it from worship places. Two worship places - Jamia Masjid and Hazratbal Shine - have been the centre-stage of politics in Kashmir. The late Mirwaiz Maulana Farooq used Jamia Masjid as a political platform for his party Awami Action Committee, called "Bakra" (Goat) party, and his rival National Conference of the late Sheikh Mohd Abdullah called "Sheer" (Lion) party would operate from Hazratbal Shrine.

Mirwaiz family has traditionally been holding control over Jamia Masjid wherefrom it propagated its political, social and religious agenda. Sheikh Mohd Abdullah after his release from jail occupied Hazratbal Shrine for his political sermons till he breathed his last. Several attempts were made by various political leaders to snatch away Sheikh Abdullah's Hazratbal seat but none could succeed.

Realising the importance of Shrines and Mosques in Kashmir for political existence, Sheikh Abdullah constituted Auqaf-e-Islamia which later became Muslim Auquaf Trust. Mufti Mohd Syeed led coalition PDP-Congress government had its eyes on the Trust and changed it into Muslim Waqf Board under an Act in 2003.

But NC-Congress government headed by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah when came to power in 2008 could not repeal the Act, but Omar Abdullah took over as its chairman with his loyalists as its members. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq took over the reins of ACC and also of thereligious seat of Jamia Masjid. But he also couldn't expand his party's activities beyond the down-town area, though he promoted himself to the national and international levels. While on the other hand,

Omar Farooq Abdullah, son of Dr Farooq Abdullah, remained an unsuccessful leader and failed to recapture Hazratbal shrine for political purposes. With a definite plan Syed Ali Shah Geelani, emerging hard-line separatist leader too has beenstruggling hard to occupy a worship place where from he could deliver political speeches. On September 8,Geelani made it point to offer his Eid prayers at Hazratbal taking advantage of gathering for his cause and would wrest its control from NC on this day. But it didn’t happen.

Hazratbal Shrine has been on the radar of separatists and political leaders since. On October 15, 1993, Hazratbal shrine was captured by militants but security forces action got it free on November 16, 1993 after a deal was struck for a free passage for militants to PoK.

Kashmir today witnesses a battle for political survival by respective parties. 

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