Press Trust of india

BJP’s Muslim outreach: People in Kashmir wary but hopeful

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Srinagar: BJP’s Muslim outreach programme, which will kick-off on Friday, has received mixed response from the people in Muslim-majority Kashmir, but there is a consensus that there is a need to bridge the gap between the Valley and the rest of the country.

BJP’s Minority Morcha will start a Muslim outreach programme across the country from March 10. The party has identified 64 districts spread in many states and in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir for the first phase of the exercise.

“Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir have a lot of issues and grievances which they want to be resolved, besides Muslims in other parts of India also need a sense of security. Whosoever is there in the government, if they are looking for the solutions, it is a welcome step,” Mufti  Nasir-ul-Islam said.

He said the recent incidents like lynching of two Muslim men in Haryana has hurt the sentiments of the community.

“There has been a gap and differences between the central government and Muslims of the Kashmir valley. Many claims were made after the abrogation of Article 370, but nothing has been found true. Are they going to win the hearts of the people by demolition drive? They cannot befool people,” Islam said.

He said the Muslim outreach programme of the BJP in Kashmir will be a mere lip service if it does not have practical measures to address the concerns of the local populace.

“These measures shouldn’t be lip service only. It should have practical impact and they should reach out to the people,” he said.

BJP leader Ashraf Azad also feels that there is a dire need of an outreach programme for Jammu and Kashmir.

“Muslims of J&K are isolated. By virtue of this programme, they will come closer with the rest of the population of India. We have to trust each other and that is the only way to move forward,” he said.

Azad said the entire nation needs to pay attention to Kashmir.

“We Kashmiris were only used against the nation. This programme will build trust. People of Kashmir, particularly the young generation, were waiting for this opportunity,” he said.

Many ordinary residents are wary of the BJP’s new initiative in the Valley.

“We have very little interaction with the BJP. What the BJP is doing in Kashmir, we don’t have in-depth knowledge of it, but if the central government or the BJP is going to start any programme like this, it would be good for Kashmir… We hope only for good,” Azmat Hussain, a local resident, said.

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