Anger in Valley over survey on sect, militant & separatist links

Separatist groups have already warned of protests and described the first-of-its-kind move by police as “an attempt to divide Muslims of the state on sectarian lines”.

Written by Bashaarat Masood | Srinagar | Updated: February 4, 2016 7:55 am
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A new survey being conducted by J&K Police with a questionnaire seeking details, such as religious sect and “links” to militancy or separatism, has drawn furious reactions in the Valley.

Separatist groups have already warned of protests and described the first-of-its-kind move by police as “an attempt to divide Muslims of the state on sectarian lines”.

When contacted by The Indian Express, Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kashmir, Javed Mujtaba Geelani, said, “There is nothing we have to say about it.”

Officials from the state administration, now under Governor’s rule following the death of PDP patron and Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed last month, declined to speak on record about the survey.

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But a senior official, who did not wish to be named, told The Indian Express that the survey aimed to create a databank. “Kashmir is not a normal state. We need to have a complete databank of every citizen. It would not only help us contain militancy and separatism but also help in keeping a tab on crime and criminals,” said the official.

Meanwhile, residents from several parts of the Valley, including Srinagar, confirmed that police were distributing printed one-page questionnaires in households with directions to return them after filling the details.

The questionnaire seeks “very personal details”, said Gulzar Ahmad, a resident of Nowhatta in Srinagar.

“A policeman came to our home to hand over this form. They are seeking details that we don’t share even with our friends. It has created a lot of apprehension among us. Why conduct such a survey?” said Ahmad.

The questionnaire, which was examined by The Indian Express, seeks the name and age of the head of family and that of other members. It also seeks cellphone numbers — even of daughters “married out” — and educational qualifications of every family member.

“How do they expect us to give them the cellphone numbers of our daughters? What is the guarantee that this information would not be misused?” asked a resident, who did not wish to be named.

The form also seeks to know the monthly income of every family member, the cost of the house they live in and whether any of them have links to militancy or separatism. Another column seeks details of the religion, including “masalak” or sect, that the family belongs to.

A leader from the Hurriyat faction, led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, alleged that the questionnaire was “an exercise” by “the government and its agencies to divide people on sectarian lines.” “The Hurriyat has warned the government to stop the survey,” he said.