Deoband to discuss Valley unrest

The Deoband seminary, which has stayed out of Kashmir politics, will host a gathering of Muslim clerics and scholars on October 4 to discuss Kashmir in the backdrop of renewed violence in the Valley. The conference is an initiative by the Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind (JuH), first-of-its-kind by a Muslim religious organization in the country, said the group’s leader Maulana Mahmood Madani. ‘‘The ulema will meet to evolve a peaceful and unanimous civilian response to the Kashmir crisis,’’ he said. But dragging Deoband into Kashmir wasn’t being welcomed. ‘‘It could create a perception that Kashmir is a religious issue,’’ said Arshad Alam, assistant professor, Jamia Millia Islamia University. He feared it could create a wedge between communities. ‘‘A message could go out that Kashmiris are facing repression because they are Muslims. It could foist a monolithic identity on a heterogenous Muslim community,’’ he said. Sociologist Imtiaz Ahmad said, ‘‘A religious initiative on Kashmir issue is not desirable.’’ Madani says Deoband is just a venue and no symbolism should be attached. ‘‘We couldn’t find a venue in Delhi due to the Commonwealth Games. On October 30, we will hold a rally at Delhi’s Ram Lila Maidan where we’ll invite likeminded people from all communities and civil society groups.’’

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