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Delegation of sufi clerics face hostile crowd in Kashmir

October 14, 2019 05:04 AM

Protest The 17-member delegation, which is on a three-day visit to the Valley, was greeted with anti-India slogans by people at a shrine
Ashiq Hussain

Srinagar : A delegation of Sufi clerics, who is in the Valley to assess the situation post abrogation of Article 370, faced a hostile crowd on Saturday at Kashmir’s most revered shrine Dargah Hazratbal, eyewitnesses said.

The 17-member delegation under the banner of All India Sufi Sajjadanashin Council (AISSC) headed by Syed Naseeruddin Chisti, who is the son of chief priest of Dargah Ajmer Sharif Syed Zainulabidin, are on a three-day visit to the Valley till Monday.

On Saturday, the delegation had gone to Hazratbal in the afternoon where they were greeted with anti-India slogans after people completed their prayers in the shrine.

“I was in the shrine to offer prayers when people noticed these saffron clad ‘so called sufis’. Hundreds of people were in the shrine to offer afternoon prayers as a funeral was also lined up. Immediately after the prayers and funeral, people surrounded the sufis and raised anti-India and anti-Modi slogans. They were not harmed physically. They made a hasty retreat from the spot and did not talk to people,” said a local of Hazratbal area.

“People were angry as they thought they were sponsored by the government and are here to divide people,” he added.

Syed Naseeruddin Chisti told HT that they did not interact with people as funeral prayers were going on and he did not hear the slogans. “May be there was a reaction of people after we left,” he said.

AlSSC spokesperson Deepak Sharma acknowledged that slogans were raised in the shrine against their visit. “We had a big delegation. Some of us left early and some came after a while. Some members heard the slogans. There is fear among people,” he said.

“We are an independent delegation and have nothing to do with the government. We had asked the governor for permission to visit Kashmir. First, it was rejected and then they accepted it 10 days ago,” he said. The delegation said they returned halfway from visiting Makhdoom Sahib Shrine in old city owing to some fair there.

The delegation, which has members from shrines of Nizamuddin, Hyderabad, UP, Bihar, Rajasthan and Agra, is being hosted by Jammu and Kashmir’s cultural academy. This is the first non-government delegation to be allowed to visit Kashmir since the Centre abrogated Article 370.

“We want to restore Sufism in Kashmir. We have nothing to do with politics. We want people here to join the national mainstream as far as development and prosperity is concerned,” Chisti said

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