Indian Hindu priest in UP forms ‘people’s army’ to fight Kashmiris

27th Apr 2017
Indian Hindu priest in UP forms ‘people’s army’ to fight Kashmiris

By Zahid Rafiq

 

SRINAGAR, Jammu and Kashmir (AA): An Indian Hindu priest has formed a so-called people’s army in Kanpur city in northern Uttar Pradesh state to fight against the pro-independence Kashmiri Muslim demonstrators in Jammu and Kashmir.

Balyogi Arun Puri Chaitanya Maharaj, the priest who heads the so-called army named Jan Sena, told the media late Tuesday that 13,000 people had so far registered with his group who were “ready to give a befitting reply to stone throwers” in the disputed region.

“I appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to permit Sena to go to Kashmir and teach the separatist forces [pro-independence Kashmiris] there a lesson,” Puri said.

“The youth who have registered [with Sena] are being imparted training to tackle the wayward youths in Kashmir,” he added.

Puri, who is the head priest of the Siddhnath temple in Kanpur, also said he and other priests would meet the district magistrate on Wednesday and handover a formal letter addressed to Indian prime minister and the president, asking for permission for his group’s march to Jammu and Kashmir.

While it is possible that the group may never come to Jammu and Kashmir and it may well be empty threat by yet another Hindu priest, there have been several instances of attacks by Hindu gangs and mobs on Kashmiri Muslim students in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and several other parts of northern India in the recent past.

Last week, huge billboards appeared in the same Uttar Pradesh state threatening Kashmiri students to leave the state or else face dire consequences.

The latest Jan Sena group is being seen in Jammu and Kashmir as yet another addition to the woes of the Kashmiri Muslims studying and living in India.

Gautam Navlakha, writer and civil rights activist based in the Indian capital New Delhi, told Anadolu Agency: “Because of the right-wing Hindu government at the top, these groups are feeling very emboldened and this Sena and attacks on Kashmiris are the manifestations of it.

“But it is going to hurt India more than it hurts Kashmir, but with these actions India is killing even the minute possibility in which Kashmiris could imagine a future with India.”

Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.

The two countries have fought three wars – in 1948, 1965 and 1971 – since they were partitioned in 1947, two of which were fought over Kashmir.

Kashmiri resistance groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.

More than 70,000 people have reportedly been killed in the conflict since 1989. India maintains more than half a million troops in the disputed region.

[Photo: Girl students run for safety after Indian police used chilli smoke during clashes in Srinagar the summer capital of Indian controlled Kashmir on April 24, 2017. Many students’ sustained injuries after Indian police used teargas shells, chili smoke, water cannons and stun grenades to disperse them. Photographer: Muhabiri Faisal Khan/AA]

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