The organization has taken a stand on the issue of abrogation of Article 370 and 35-A and said that Kashmir is an integral part of India. What made you take this stand?
We are citizens of India and we talk about internal issues of India, it is possible that there would be some difference of opinion. And the beauty of our country is that we can express our concerns strongly. I have the right to say that this is right and something is wrong. But when it is about the country, we will stand by our country. Even if we differ on how the issue needs to be resolved, but everyone should stand united with the country. We should not only stand with the country but we should be seen standing with the rest of country.
We have our reservations about Article 370, but this is not the time to talk about differences on the issue. It is before the court and we should let the court decide. The verdict of the court will be acceptable to the government and to everyone.
Earlier, we did not think it was needed for us to express our views, but when Pakistan started saying ‘Muslims of India’, and there have been repeated attempts by Pakistan. Kashmir can be a geographical issue between two countries, but I do not think it is an issue between two countries. I think there is no dispute, Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India, it was part of India, it is and it will always remain part of India. I believe Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) is also part of India. There are no two Kashmirs, J&K and PoK, there is just one Jammu and Kashmir and it belongs to India. The Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind (JuH) had passed a resolution in 1963 and we have been consistent on our view. We believe that the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir belongs to India and we will never accept that Line of Control (LoC) be made permanent border. We will not accept it. We are only following our history and ideology that we will not compromise on the integrity of the country. If our government tries to compromise, that we will oppose that also.
The decision of JuH is not because of the government or for the government, we are doing our duty.
The stand of JuH on Jammu and Kashmir is not new. Even before the partition of India and creation of Pakistan, JuH had taken a stand that India should not be divided on religious lines. Indians are one people, we can have different religions, or ways to pray but we are Hindi. We are Indians. We should have debated how the country would be governed but there should not have been division of country on the basis of religion. We have always been opposed to the idea of plebiscite and no India should be given such rights.
Without naming Pakistan, you have said that the neighbouring country was using the people of Kashmir as a shield and there was an attempt to destroy Kashmir. Can you elaborate on this?
Pakistan is continuing with its policy of proxy war by giving training, arms and sending its own people in the name of Jehad, Islam and Muslims. Pakistan does not have the courage to fight a war with us, and it is out of fear that Pakistan threatens to use its nuclear weapon against India. People of Kashmir are suffering because of this proxy war. This is not the time to complain about the government but it is the time to stand with the country. Kashmir is ours and Kashmiris are also our people.
Apart from the support for India on Kashmir, how do you look at the restrictions that were imposed by the Union government and security forces? Do you think such restrictions are needed?
Restriction is an issue of the administration and I would not be able to say much on that, but government and civil society members should ensure that restrictions get minimized at the earliest.
Most of the Opposition parties have criticized the government on its decision to abrogate Article 370. How do you view the role of Opposition parties, primarily Congress, which is the biggest Opposition in the country?
It is the duty of the Opposition party to be vocal about their criticism of the government. Pakistan quotes some Opposition leaders on Kashmir, but this is the strength of India, it shows that India is a vibrant democracy that there is internal debate in India. But we cannot allow an enemy of India to use it for its own political game. It is good that there is debate in the country. All Opposition leaders are standing with the country. It is our country, we can have differences but we all stand together for the country. National interest should be and must be above politics.
JuH had expressed its reservation on the National Register of Citizens (NRC), what makes the organization worried about the NRC? Do you fear that it will differentiate between people on the basis of religion?
I have no fear from NRC. If the country or a specific community feels that foreigners have illegally entered India, then there should be an honest effort to identify such foreigners. If NRC happens across the country, then my home minister would not be able to say that illegal immigrants have entered the country, and they will be thrown out of the country. We must identify these illegal immigrants and send them out of India. We will support the move. But to point fingers towards Muslims is not acceptable to us. The same party is in power in most of the states, they should have NRC at least in those states, 90% India will get covered. The remaining states can have NRC later. We welcome NRC across India but there should be no finger-pointing towards any community.
There are a series of acts of mob lynching in the country, how do you look at the problem which continues even after repeated advisories being issued by the Union government?
It is my suggestion and the Supreme Court has also said that there should be a law against mob lynching, some states have already done it. Centre should also come up with a law against mob lynching. This is not just an issue between Hindus and Muslims, but intolerance has increased in the country. We have seen instances when people have been lynched over allegations of kidnapping and black magic. If we do not act against it, then it will be tragic. This is not a communal issue, there is a communal angle to it also, but this is less of a communal issue and more about anger of people. Most of the time people do not even know why someone is being beaten up by a mob. It is a serious issue. People should not take law in their own hands and there is a need to make people aware. Action against those involved in such cases should be taken at the earliest and there should be fast-track court against such crimes. In many cases, mob lynching has been used against Muslims.
Can a law solve the problem?
Making people aware of the problem is most important to stop mob lynching. Even if someone is at fault, people should not take law into their own hands. There should be no instance of people mercilessly beating someone. There should be a national law against mob lynching and states that have not made laws against it till now should also pass such laws. There should be fast justice and the accused should not be protected. But in some cases, the perception is that investigating agencies have tried to protect the accused.
While the JuH has always talked about unity and harmony between Hindus and Muslims, with the verdict on the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi case expected soon, do you think it would impact the harmony between the two communities?
All organizations of Muslims, whether reasonable or unreasonable, have taken a decision that if the verdict of the Supreme Court is against us, then we will accept the decision of the apex court. But the other side has not made such a commitment. We do not see the same sentiment being reciprocated from the other side. The other side says that they will build (a temple) at the same place. So, the onus to maintain social harmony is no longer with the minority community, it is for the majority community to maintain harmony between the two sides. We have already made our stand clear. The best thing is if the issue was resolved through dialogue, but no side is agreed to it. If the verdict is against us, we will agree to it, and if it is in favour of us, the state should ensure it is implemented.