'Restrict Hindu Pilgrimages In Kashmir To 15 Days Or Face Opposition', Geelani18 June 2010
Srinagar: The hardline Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani has asked Indian administered Kashmir government to restrict the Hindu annual pilgrimage to 15 days or face opposition. The annual Hindu pilgrimage to the Amarnath cave shrine in South Kashmir's Pahalgam area will commence next month. Thousands of Hindus from all over India will converge in South Kashmir during the two month pilgrimage. 'We are not against the Amarnath pilgrimage. We will continue to welcome the Hindu pilgrims as we have been in the past. Islam doesn't teach us to create hurdles in the religious rituals of non-Muslims but we urge the government to restrict the pilgrimage to 15 days from two months. This will help in safeguarding the fragile economy of the region,' Geelani said while addressing people during a peaceful sit-in against human rights violations being committed by Indian soldiers. Accusing Indian government of following double standards, the separatist leader said, 'Only 150 pilgrims a day are allowed to pilgrimage to Gangortri in India's Uttar Pradesh state to safeguard environment. However, here in Kashmir, Indian government is following a different approach. It seems that destroying the environment and culture of a Muslim majority region is in the national interest of India.' He asked the government to restrict the Hindu pilgrimage in Kashmir to 15 days only. 'If government fails to concede to our demand, we will be compelled to launch an agitation,' he said. He also condemned the recent killing of teenager in police action. 'Indian troops are commiting grave human rights violations in Kashmir. They are killing innocent youth and no action is taken against them by the Indian government,' he alleged and urged the world community to intervene and pressurize Indian government to stop its uniformed men from killing Kashmiris. Geelani said the right to self determination is the only option for resolving the Kashmir issue. 'People of Kashmir should be given the right to self determination to determine their fate,' he added.