Dalai Lama stirs controversy in Kashmir

Credit: Asia Times.

VIENNA – The Dalai Lama’s recent visit to Indian-administered Kashmir has aroused much controversy. While the spiritual leader met with Tibetan Muslim refugees settled in the valley, it was his pleas for non-violent resistance in the region that angered separatists.

Arriving on July 12 for a six-day visit that was his first to Kashmir in 24 years, the Dalai Lama called for negotiations between Delhi and insurgents leading a more than two-decade-old anti-Indian rebellion.

“Kashmiri people should live peacefully and if there is any problem, dialogue is the only way [to resolve issues]. Violence is

in nobody’s interest. A peaceful way is essential,” he said in Jammu and Kashmir’s summer capital, Srinagar.

Kashmiri separatist leaders have said that the spiritual leader allowed this visit to be hijacked by the Indian government, as he overlooked the grim reality of human-rights abuses in the region.

“We respect the Dalai Lama … However, peace cannot prevail till justice is done,” Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, the chairman of the Hurriyat Conference political front, told a local news agency. Faroog said that the spiritual leader’s failure to meet local civil society members and mention Kashmiris killed by Indian security forces was a disappointment to many.

“He did not interact with people, neither did he meet civil society members, rights workers or different shades of political leadership. He did not talk about injustice, killings and human-rights violations,” said Faroog.

Another Kashmiri leader, Syed Ali Gilani, said the Dalai Lama was being used as a tool by the Indian government. “He should have cleared the very basics about Kashmir and then talked to different sections of society. He is appeasing New Delhi. He should have cleared the very basics about Kashmir and then talked to different sections of society. He is appeasing New Delhi by his utterances.”

Armed resistance to Indian rule began in the Kashmir valley in 1989, with some groups calling for independence and others urging union with Pakistan. Although recent years have been relatively peaceful, for the past three summers the valley has been rocked by violent protests, and over 100 Kashmiris were killed in anti-India protests in streets of the Kashmir valley in summer 2010.

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Categories: Asia, India, Kashmir

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