Shias vow to fight bid to persecute them in Valley
7 June 2000
The Asian Age
Baramulla: Thousands of Shias who converged at an Imam Bara here on Wednesday to mourn the death of 11 members of their sect in last week's landmine explosion in a neighbouring village vowed to fight tooth and nail any attempts made to persecute them. Their leader, Maulvi Iftekhar Hussain Ansari, who was injured in the blast apparently triggered off to kill him, declared that no order or arrangement sought for Kashmir would be acceptable to him unless it guaranteed complete religious freedom for his people and wherein the incidents like the one occurred on June 2 were not repeated. 'My people who are true admirers of the descendants of Prophet Muhammad were attacked when they were holding a commemorative function on his death anniversary which is unfortunate and condemnable too,' he said. Mr Ansari saw 'nexus' between the assailants and the local administration which, he said, made possible for the former to bury the improvised explosive device beneath the podium well before the start of the religious congregation at Gund Khawaja Qasim. He said that he knew the people who were behind the act, where they had stayed for the night before planting the IED and who helped them but would not disclose their identity until the state government came out with the findings of its investigation into the incident. He, however, alleged that the Farooq government was insensitive towards such incidents. 'This man is innocent, does not know much about such intrigues and is kept in dark by a handful of ayash (voluptuous) and zani (adulterous) bureaucrats and officers who actually rule the roost in the state today,' he said, while pointing out towards the chair which had just been vacated by chief minister Farooq Abdullah. Earlier speaking at the rally, Dr Abdullah pledged that his government would leave no stone unturned in order to seize the culprits and punish them. He conveyed similar assurance to Mr Ansari's supporters from the Prime Minister with whom he had briefly discussed the incident and its fallout in Leh before flying here in the state helicopter to share the grief of bereaved Shias. He said that vested interests were behind the blast at Gund Khawaja Qasim to reanimate distress between the two sects. He asked people to remain extra vigilant against possible recurrence of such incidents. He was pained at Muslims of Kashmir being killed like flies every day and how devotees in mosques and Imam Baras in neighbouring Pakistan were being targeted at random by terrorists to shed the blood of innocent devotees. 'This is not Islam I tell you,' he added. The chief minister confessed that it was quite possible that the information about the movement of mainstream leadership, including Mr Ansari and himself, was being leaked to those who were after their blood and that God would protect them in this kind of a situation. 'They will strike again and try to do every thing they can in order to drive a wedge between the two sects,' he cautioned. Dr Abdullah said that some of the militants and their supporting political leadership were asking for azadi, others wanted to join Pakistan. 'But would they achieve either of this by killing Maulvi Sahib or me and if they think they would do get it then both of us are prepared to die,' he said. Mr Ansari cautioned: 'Shias are not pandits (Kashmiri Hindus) whom you drove out to capture their properties nor Sikhs who will tolerate persecution. If you kill one Iftekhar Ansari, 5,000 more Iftekhar Ansaris will take rebirth from his mortal remains.' He said he was not against holding of dialogue between the Centre and the Kashmiri leadership but wondered if New Delhi was at all serious about the move. He was also unsure of Pakistan's capability to settle the issue amicably. 'Both these countries are caught in peculiar situations wherein they can hardly take such bold steps,' he added. A resolution passed at the rally observed that the IED blast at Gund Khawaja Qasim was aimed at destroying the age-old communal harmony among various sects of Muslims and to infuse religious tensions. It said that the district administration had been informed about Mr Ansari's plan to address the rally well in advance but it failed to take precautionary measures to avoid the incident which arises the doubts of nexus between 'undesired elements' and it. The resolution demanded a thorough probe by some independent agency to reveal the truth.