Srinagar: An Indian peace-worker who concluded his 16-month “walk for hope” from Kanyakumari to Kashmir on Friday said that he is upset on heavy militarization of Kashmir.
“Anybody would be upset if you see people walking around with guns,” Mumtaz Ali, leader of Manav Ekta Mission told Kashmir Reader at the sprawling lawns of Centaur Hotel where he is camping along-with his hundred-off volunteers from all across India.
Ali, who is born in a Muslim family, is known as Sri Madhukarnath or Sri M and leads a large missionary outfit that propagates communal harmony and peace.
Sri M begun his “walk for hope” on January 12, 2015 on the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda from Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu. He has walked through several Indian states and volatile regions like Godhra in Gujarat. He said he met with millions of people to spread his message.
He said that the people of Kashmir have to initiate a initiate a dialogue within the community to find out ways for the resolution of Kashmir issue and restoration of peace and harmony.
“Kashmir is predominantly a Muslim state. Therefore, it is the duty of religious leaders, intellectuals and youngsters of the community to work for dialogue and understanding,” he said.
On recent killings in Handwara and restrictions on Kashmiri leaders he said that this was not the right way to handle the situation in Kashmir. “This is not the way to handle it. Kashmir is burning. You can’t see it on the surface but it is simmering inside,” he observed.
He said the initiatives for peace were the solution to pre-empt the situation. “The situation can be pre-empted. This is my prayer,” he said. He said the army must be made accountable. “Everybody should be accountable. The army too must be accountable. The armymen and police personnel are also the citizens of India,” he said.
However, he justified the special powers to the army in handling the situation in Kashmir.
“You see Kashmir is sandwiched between the governments of India and Pakistan. It is not possible to suddenly withdraw (the laws). You never know what the other side will do,” he said.
He said that Manav Ekta Mission believes in dialogue to resolve the issues because violence is answered by the violence. “Violence is met with violence. If I have one gun, the other has two. This is the game of vested interests. They don’t belong to any community,” he said.
He said the issue of Kashmir came into existence when the British sold off Muslim majority Kashmir to a Hindu ruler. “Read the British writers what they have written about Kashmir. They write about the beauty of Kashmir and not its people. This is the root cause of the issue,” he said.
He said the Kashmiri people have to generate an internal movement for the resolution of Kashmir. “The governments of India and Pakistan will think in terms of their national interests because they are nationalists. Can both of them be willing to give freedom to Kashmir,” he asked.
He said the people of Kashmir want to be free and happy and some of them have adopted the violent means for the goal. “Unfortunately, for a revolution, a part becomes armed. This has happened everywhere in the world but somehow young people, intellectuals have to be convinced for peace. This movement has to come from Muslims of the state who are in majority. The leaders must think and decide that they need to have peace and not the disturbance,” he said.
He said it was difficult to assuage the wounds especially for the people who have been downtrodden for years.
Sri M lamented that Kashmiri students were targeted in educational institutions outside. “This is not the way to handle. How can you bring out mature people (from the educational institutions) when they don’t have the freedom to think?” he said.
He said that he walked through places like Godhra and asked the people to look for preventions rather than the cure.