Geelani calls for shutdown Saturday

Srinagar: Chairman Hurriyat Conference (G) Syed Ali Geelani has called for a shutdown on Saturday against the proposed annual Yatra to Kausar Naag lake area in south Kashmir.
In a statement Thursday, Geelani said the government’s move to declare the ecologically-fragile Kausar Naag as a new Yatra destination “will have disastrous consequences on the environment and water resources of Kashmir.”
“We call for peaceful protest demonstrations after Friday prayers on August 1 and complete shutdown on August 2 against the politically-motivated decision of the government to facilitate an annual Yatra to Kausar Naag,” Geelani said.
Alleging that the government decision was politically motivated, Geelani said the proposed Yatra was “part of ongoing cultural aggression against Kashmiris.”
“Communal forces in India are hell-bent upon disturbing peace in Kashmir and they want to destroy our environment, identity, culture and values,” he said.
The state government was “playing an extremely criminal role regarding this issue and instead of raising their voices against this aggression is extending its cooperation in every possible way,” he said.
Geelani said that Kashmiris’ opposition to the Yatra was not based on any animosity with Hindus or their religion but purely out of concern for the “fragile economy of Kausar Naag, which is a very important source of drinking water for millions of people and also irrigates lakhs of acres of agriculture land.”
“The presence of the large number of people will not only endanger this important source of water but it can prove dangerous and destructive for the fragile environment of the region,” he said.
The Shabir Shah-led Hurriyat Conference Jammu Kashmir also called for shutdown against the proposed Yatra, saying it amounted to “open war against Kashmiris.”