Srinagar: Donning saffron scarves, state leaders of Shiv Sena on Thursday surprised everyone in the Kashmir Press Club. Addressing the first press conference in Kashmir, the leaders said the state of Jammu and Kashmir is being divided along religious lines.
“In the name of Hindu and Muslim the state is being divided between Kashmir and Jammu,” Minesh Sahni, the Sena’s party state general secretary, told reporters.
Party leaders said they have come with the message of peace for the people of Kashmir.
Sahni was accompanied by around ten party men. One among them was their Kashmir head, Abdul Khaliq, who also contested elections against Farooq Abdullah from Srinagar Parliamentary constituency. Khaliq is hopeful that he will get around one hundred votes.
On the controversial issue of Article 370, which confers special status to Jammu and Kashmir, the Shiv Sena leader said it can’t be abrogated by the statement of politicians.
“(Narendra) Modi and Mehbooba (Mufti) like politicians play politics on Article 370. They can’t do anything with it, they can’t remove it. It is the Jammu and Kashmir assembly which can decide on it,” Sahni said, surprising even reporters present at the press conference.
Sahani went on to say that “the political parties in the valley want to divide the state and we want to save it.”
In Kashmir, the Sena has a bad image after its activists were accused of attacks on Kashmiris outside the state. When a reporter asked the Sena leader about this he said: “We want a new chapter to start now.”
“There are always some people who bring a bad name to an organisation. This is old talk now and we want to end that,” he said. “If that would not have been the case we would not have come here.”
The Sena leader also vouched for ceasefire in the valley during the month of Ramadhan.
“There should be a ceasefire in the hinterland and LoC during this holy month of Ramadhan. The militants should also not attack our forces,” he said.
They also condemned the rape of the Bandipora girl.
Sahani who himself contested the Lok Sabha polls from Jammu has called for early assembly polls in the state.
“The developmental work is hampered because there is no elected government from long in the state. We need elected government as soon as possible for peace and development in the state,” he said.
But Shiv Shena demanded that Kashmir and Jammu division should be given equal seat share.
“There should not be more seats for Kashmir and less for Jammu. We want both regions to be the same. I hope people of Kashmir will also accept it,” he said.
On the question that Sena is anti-Muslim, Sahani said, the “inclusive” nature of the organisation can be “understood by the fact that the role of Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray in his Bollywood biopic was played by Muslim actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui".