Geelani says no need for US citizens to leave, flays Grand Mufti

A day after a top government cleric asked visitors of United States to “immediately” leave Kashmir, senior Hurriyat (G) leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani on Saturday 15 September flayed the cleric saying the “guests in Kashmir need not leave and they’re always welcome”.

Geelani called government cleric Mufti Bashir-ud-Din’s calls “too stupid to be heeded to.” Din had asked American citizens to leave the Valley when details emerged about the anti-Islam movie which deemed offensive to Muslims and has triggered world-wide protests.

“We’ve differences with this irresponsible person (Sam Bacile alias Nakoula Basseley) who produced this anti-Islam film but that doesn’t mean all Americans are to be blamed for it. One person’s bad deeds can’t be blamed on others,” Geelani told TEHELKA on the sidelines of a press conference at his Hyderpora residence in Srinagar.

Expressing his disapproval of the killing of sarpanches by unknown gunmen in Kashmir, the octogenarian leader said, “Our standing policy and doctrine has always been against such killings. No one should be killed for his political ideology. You can’t kill an innocent person for his political views”.

The killing of a sarpanch by unidentified gunmen earlier this week had triggered a spate of resignations in north Kashmir, taking the count of those who resigned since the 2011 Panchayat Polls to over 350, according to reports. Earlier, Geelani had condemned the state government and police for arresting Hurriyat’s tehsil president (Pattan-North Kashmir) Abdullah Nasir over charges of murdering a sarpanch.

Geelani said, “Police has framed our worker on false charges. Let an open trial court decide his (Nasir) fate,” adding that, “Such acts reflect police’s weakness. They fail to nab the real killers and instead detain or arrest people (pro-Azadi) who have a different bent of ideology.”

While lashing out at the government for “continuously placing him under house arrest” since 2008, Geelani said that despite him making peace calls in that year that helped stop youth from stone pelting and burning down government buildings, “the state government’s behavior has been dictatorial.”

Geelani also lashed out at the Army for allegedly showing an anti-Islam movie in North Kashmir that witnessed angry protests in Kupwara’s Lolab on Friday 14 September. Army and police have however denied that any anti-Islam movie was screened in Kashmir.

Baba Umar is a Senior Correspondent with Tehelka.