MUZAFFARABAD: A Srinagar-based pro-freedom alliance, led by revered cleric Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, has made it clear to India that its attempts to bring about demographic change in the disputed Muslim majority region are completely unacceptable to the Kashmiri people.

“Since 1947, there have also been attempts to change the demographic character of [Indian occupied] Jammu and Kashmir and a final nail in the coffin was hammered in this regard in August 2019,” said the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (M) in a statement from Srinagar, which was also emailed to Dawn on Thursday.

“These attempts at demographic engineering are completely unacceptable to the people of Jammu and Kashmir who have totally rejected it,” added the alliance.

According to the statement, a meeting of the alliance was held at the residence of ailing executive member Maulana Abbas Ans­ari in downtown Srinagar with executive members Prof Abdul Ghani Bhat and Bilal Ghani Lone among the other participants.

Maulana Ansari, who is also a former APHC (M) chairman, has not been feeling well for quite some time.

Mirwaiz Farooq was, however, unable to participate in the meeting as he continued to be under arbitrary house arrest since August 2019, the statement added.

At the meeting, the APHC (M) leaders asked the Indian government to stop issuing domicile certificates to outsiders with a view to changing the demographic character of the internationally acknowledged disputed territory as it was not only “causing great concern among the Kashmiri people but could also have serious consequences for the region”.

They advised the Kashmiri people to remain highly vigilant at this time and do not sell their land or any property to the outsiders at any cost.

They also reiterated APHC’s basic stand that the Kashmir dispute had to be resolved peacefully as per the wishes and aspirations of Kashmiri people by the three stakeholders — India, Pakistan and the people of the erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir.

“Dialogue among the three stakeholders is the best alternative method to resolve the issue that the APHC has consistently advocated and even participated in,” they said, maintaining that resolution of the Kashmir issue was the best guarantee for real peace and subsequent prosperity in the subcontinent.

The APHC (M) leaders vowed that they would continue to persistently pursue for peaceful resolution of the Kashmir conflict. “Since 1931, when the people of J&K stood up for the realisation of their aspirations, till date those aspirations have been repeatedly compromised,” they said.

The alliance members also condemned the killing of a civilian at Sop­o­re on Wednesday during an alleged encounter by the [occupation] forces, whereas as per the family’s account the victim was killed in cold blood.

“The images of his three years old child by the grandfather’s dead body have been heart wrenching,” they said, calling for an immediate end to such killings.

Published in Dawn, July 3rd, 2020