SRINAGAR: In a public rally held at Tilsara (Charar-e-Sharief), Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari, Chief of the Apni Party, vehemently criticised the recent announcement by the Chairperson of the Waqf Board, Darshan Andrabi, regarding the recruitment of degree-holding Imams, Mubalighs, and Muazins in Kashmir.

Bukhari denounced the move as “direct interference in religious affairs” and an “unacceptable” breach of religious sentiments. “If the recruitment of Imams and Muazins must be based on qualifications and degrees, then let’s commence with assessing the qualifications of the Waqf Board Chairperson herself first,” he said.

“How would you react if someone suggested appointing degree-holding priests in revered places like the Ram Mandir,” he asked Prime Minister Modi, the Home Minister, and Jammu and Kashmir’s Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha. “Such actions amount to direct interference in religious affairs and are absolutely unacceptable. Don’t try to pain our hearts by such moves, and don’t try to play with our religious sentiments.”

He asserted that such actions crossed the line of acceptable religious governance and called for unity among the people to safeguard their constitutional rights.

In addition to criticising the recruitment plan, Bukhari also touched on the need for the release of prominent religious leaders who are currently incarcerated. He cited figures like Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Moulana Abdul Rasheed Dawoodi, Moulana Mushtaq Ahmad Veeri, and others, emphasising their potential positive influence in combating societal issues such as drug abuse.

“Let me make it very clear that politicians are unable to help eradicate the prevailing drug abuse in society. However, considering the vast influence of our religious leaders over the masses, they, if freed from jails, will be able to play a significant role in helping to eradicate social evils, including drug abuse,” he added.

Bukhari passionately appealed to the people to stand by the Apni Party, emphasising its commitment to addressing the concerns and development needs of the region. He recounted the party’s efforts following the changes that occurred in August 2019 and declared their determination to stand up for the fundamental and democratic rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.


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