[Reader-list] Geelani really dying for Kashmir’s ecology?

Pawan Durani pawan.durani at gmail.com
Sun Jun 27 15:09:59 IST 2010


Geelani really dying for Kashmir’s ecology?

Influential separatist leader should also call a shutdown on brick kilns

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jun 20: Senior Kashmiri separatist leader, Syed Ali Shah
Geelani, has, of late, begun to lay remarkable emphasis over the need
to protect the Valley’s environment and ecology. In the last one week,
Geelani has shown significant concern over the damage, according to
him, caused to the Valley’s fragile ecology by the annual Amarnath
pilgrimage. He has made specific non-political demand of reducing the
pilgrimage period from existing two months to just 15 days and argued
that similar arrangement was in place at Gangotri and other holy
places in Uttaranchal.

Notwithstanding resting his entire argument on the 60-year-old UN
resolutions, Geelani’s ideology of a theocratic Islamic system has
little scope for geo-political boundaries. He seems to be confident
that Jammu & Kashmir’s merger with Pakistan, in realization of what he
calls ‘aspiration of the Kashmiris’, would be a service to the Islamic
Republic of Pakistan. When he was led to believe during Amarnath land
row in August 2008---by slogans like ‘kaun karega tarjumani, Syed Ali
Shah Geelani’--- that he alone was the representative of the
Kashmiris, he lost no time to assert.

At the TRC congregation, Geelani found two of the most prominent
pro-Azadi leaders, namely Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin
Malik, already seated on the dais. Cutting them both dead, he sought
the gathering’s vote of being the “only representative of the
Kashmiris” and led the audience yell as many as 10 times in one go:
“Ham Pakistani hain, Pakistan hamara hai”.

In contrast, Geelani has been complaining of “cultural aggression” and
“ecological degradation” for quite some time now--- holding the
“Indian occupational forces” responsible for both. So the fundamental
question, unanswered in the minds of a many Kashmiris, is: Is the
octogenarian separatist leader concerned about all hues of “cultural
aggression” and “ecological degradation” in Kashmir or merely the one
he finds the “Indian occupational forces” involved in?

At three of his thinly attended public meetings since the weekend
last, Geelani has warned the Government of “a sustained struggle” in
case his demand of restricting the pilgrimage period to 15 days was
not acceded to. “It (Yatra period of 60 days) has been destroying our
atmosphere”, he has complained. Those visiting Sonmarg and Pahalgam
during the two-odd months of the pilgrimage would readily agree with
Mr Geelani as the damage caused to the environ is colossal. Much like
Geelani, they were also concerned over the raising of concrete
structures at Baltal in 2008. But, this time around, they are perhaps
equally concerned that their joining the chorus with Geelani could
push the environment to the backburner exactly like in 2008 and bring
region and religion to the forefront. This, they know, is bound to be
catastrophic in perception of an equally negative reaction in Jammu.

Leela Karan Sharma of the 2008 Sangharsh fame and others of his ilk,
who remained in oblivion in the last 20 months, have immediately got
resuscitation in Geelani’s warning and have begun to find their role
and place in the situation being communally charged in Jammu &
Kashmir. Much like Congress-PDP coalition in 2008, Congress-NC ruling
alliance seems to be having other priorities at hand.

Among the ordinary Kashmiris, many are surprised why Mr Geelani does
not deliver a sermon on Director SKIMS, Dr Abdul Hamid Zargar, on the
latter’s obligation of installing an incinerator for appropriate
disposal of medical waste at the hospital. If the Valley’s jails and
detention centers are Geelani’s “second home”, SKIMS has indisputably
emerged as his “third home”. Every time Geelani was ‘arrested’ in the
last several years, his detention has ended at SKIMS. Concerned over
the environment, Geelani must be aware that J&K State Pollution
Control Board has now slapped a final notice of closure on the SKIMS
Director for ignoring to set up an incinerator at the state’s only
tertiary care hospital.

Having never planted a tree on the World Arbor Day on March 21 or
otherwise, Geelani is also supposed to be knowing well that sections
of the Valley’s pro-Azadi and pro-Pakistan militants have caused more
damage to the state’s sylvan cover---particularly in 1990-1996
period---than Army and paramilitary forces. Hundreds of compartments
were denuded in broad daylight everywhere in Kashmir, including
Geelani’s own Sopore-Rafiabad forests. One conservator and scores of
Forest Department officials were not gunned down by military.

And the last, but not the least, Geelani has never raised his voice
over the mushroom growth of cement plants---maximum of them laid by a
Sopore-based business family---in the critical Khonmoh-Khrew belt,
bordering Dachigam National Park on one side and the saffron fields of
Pampore on another. While traveling more than any other political
leader through Valley, Geelani has also witnessed how more than 300
completely unauthorized and illegal brick kilns have caused grave
threat not only to environment but also to the poor human life. Should
he not invoke his “only tool” of shutdown for a day, specifically for
closing down these dangerously operating kilns or else prevail upon
the owners to do a real good to the Kashmiris?

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