Srinagar, March 17: A senior leader of the hardline Hurriyat faction today chided slain Hizbul commander Burhan Wani's successor Zakir Musa for linking the Kashmir issue with religion, saying it is a "political issue" and should be resolved politically.
Ghulam Nabi Sumji, general secretary of the Hurriyat group, said separatists had no global agenda and their struggle was confined to state of Jammu and Kashmir. "Kashmir is a political issue and we believe every person who is a resident of this state, whether a Muslim, a Hindu or a Sikh, should be given a right to determine the status of our state," Sumji, a key aide of Hurriyat veteran Syed Ali Shah Geelani, told The Telegraph.
Sumji was responding to a video statement from Zakir espousing a "pan-Islamic agenda" and exhorting Kashmiris to fight with guns and stones for the supremacy of Islam, not Kashmiri nationalism.
Zakir, an engineering dropout, appeared to echo the agenda of groups like al Qaida and the Islamic State, which fights for a global caliphate.
"Nationalism and democracy are forbidden in Islam. Our stones and weapons should not be to fight for Kashmir. It should be for the supremacy of Islam so that Sharia (Islamic law) is enforced here," Zakir is heard saying in the video.
Sumji said statements suggesting Kashmir was a religious issue harmed the aazadi struggle but conceded everybody was free to express their views.
The Hurriyat leader seemed to suggest that Kashmir had a religious connection because the majority of its residents were Muslims. "If you look at Geelani Sahab's statements, he always maintains that Kashmir is a political issue and that our struggle is confined to our state."
Sumji brushed aside claims that Kashmiris had a "pan-Islamic" agenda. "Our pain and sufferings have no end and you want us to weep for people in Palestine and Afghanistan."
Geelani's oft-repeated stand has been that Kashmiris should be given a right to decide whether to be part of Pakistan or India. But he also wants aazadi - by which he means accession to Pakistan or an independent state - and believes it should be followed by Shariah law in state.
But Sumji said today it was too premature to seek imposition of Shariah law. "You have people from all communities living here. Then there are sects among Muslims. Such talks (on Shariah) are too early." While "aazadi for the sake of Islam" is the favourite slogan of several hardline leaders, moderate separatists refrain from raising such themes.