Anjuman Shar-e-Shian president Agha Syed Hassan Al Moosvi Al Safavi tells Tasavur Mushtaq that unity among Shias and Sunnis is the only way forward to resolve the crisis.
ASH: We still don’t understand what really instigated the crisis. Kashmir in general and Budgam in particular is known for its tolerance and brotherhood. I am sure, there is some force working behind the scene to create chaos in the society. The ‘fight’ that led to the death of a person and loss to property worth crores started on a petty issue.
But rumour spread like wildfire and unfortunately situation took an ugly turn. I don’t understand why we fight. We have one God, one Prophet (PBUH), we all believe in the Day of Judgment. Then why we fight.
KL: You are an influential figure in Shia community, how did you help to douse the flames in Budgam?
ASH: I was part of the delegation that visited affected areas to resolve the matter amicably. As soon as we reached Nusrullahpora, I was hooted away by the crowd.
In fact I was attacked by some people that prevented me from being part of the process. I guess there is some hidden force that didn’t want me to reach out to the people. They know I could have influenced people to shun violence.
I always maintained that if something wrong has happened let us sit together and punish the culprits.
Mirwaiz (Umar Farooq) Sahib called me and asked me to come to Rajouri Kadal, but then you know how my vehicle was attacked.
KL: People allege that you invited a minister to inaugurate your shopping complex. Many people see recent attack on your cavalcade as its reaction?
ASH: This is done deliberately under a conspiracy to malign my image. People have faith in me as they had in my ancestors. With this I try to nourish the freedom movement, which is our basic right. My opponents are jealous of my popularity as I have huge following. This is the reason that they (opponents) accuse me of things I am not part of.
I don’t deny that I own the shopping complex. But I have given it on rent to somebody. And if that person gets anybody to inaugurate it, how am I responsible.
Let us assume that the accusation is right. What is the problem? People spend endless hours trying to meet ministers and other politicians, why am I singled out. It has become a trend to invite politicians for marriage and other functions. But still people see me as the only culprit. I still maintain that I have nothing to do with the inauguration of that shopping complex. I didn’t invite anybody.
KL: Isn’t it ironic that army was called in to control Shia-Sunni clashes. Is imposing curfew or calling army the only option left. What do you think?
ASH: Unless all stakeholders from both sides don’t sit together nothing positive will happen. And we don’t know who is getting what out of our miseries. How many hands are actually behind the scene working overtime to instigate one brother against another, we don’t know. Some people want to secure their vote bank others just want to see people fight. There is a section of people who settle their personal scores through larger platforms. Some people who wanted to settle long pending land issues, also jumped into the fight. In short everybody thinks of his personal gains.
People should not add fuel to fire. And if people have any problem with me, let them come forward and talk.
KL: Your cavalcade was attacked in Mirwaiz Umar Farooq’s bastion. What was his reaction?
ASH: He was shocked at the incident and expressed his grief. He said that he was not aware about situation being so volatile in the area, had he known he would not have asked me to come.
But let me tell you, when my cavalcade was attacked many people from Mirwaiz Manzil side pleaded with protesters not to attack me.
But they (mob) came from all sides and surrounded my vehicle. They broke window panes. My security personnel were not allowed to come out of the vehicle. I had miraculous escape. It was after security forces deployed on the road fired in the air that my vehicle was allowed to go.
KL: There were allegations that non locals instigated the violence in Budgam. How far it is true?
ASH: Situation has been cooped in Budgam. We need courage to stand up and speak and say whatever has happened or is happening is wrong.
KL: First there was All Party Hurriyat Conference which split into Hurriyat (G) and Hurriyat (M). Now Hurriyat (M) is divided within as many voices are coming to fore. You always say you have common goal then why so many parties?
ASH: Everybody is trying his best to bring together all the factions but somehow nothing concrete is happening. But we have not lost hope. We are still fighting for unity. There is no option other than unity. Disunity is harmful. Though feeling of getting united is there, I am optimistic that this will be soon realized.
KL: What efforts are you making for unification of Hurriyat (M) from within and finally a merger with Hurriyat (G)?
ASH: There are so many options besides getting united. If we are not comfortable working together at least we should live in harmony with each other. We should compliment each other and not make things difficult and stand against each other.
It is like fighting together. Efforts are on from all sides for unification.
KL: After every killing, government orders a probe? What do you think about incidents like Gool?
ASH: These probes actually prove that government actually has no regard for human rights. Kashmiris are not important for government. They hardy care about what we suffer.
KL: Election is approaching. Is there any possibility of Hurriyat (M) joining the bandwagon?
ASH: Election is not our subject. And to say something at this point of time is not possible.
KL: Separatist leadership is often accused of neglecting victims’ families after the media attention dies down. How far is it true?
ASH: Hurriyat sincerely wants to reach out to the people and help them but everybody knows how our efforts are foiled by the administration.
We are put under house arrest, lodged in police stations. This way we are not able to go and help people.
KL: Your message to Shia-Sunni communities?
ASH: We should keep alive the rich tradition of coexistence that Kashmir is known for. Animosity must end. Let love prevail.