“People like Dr Nissar have misinformed Geelani and the latter without verifying the facts issued a statement, quite unwise of such a respected leader.”
Students of Government Medical College (GMC), Srinagar, who are in Delhi to participate in a cultural event, have criticized senior Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani for what they say “creating an uncalled for controversy”.
Mr Geelani, whose All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) is fighting for Kashmir’s independence from India, Sunday told the media in Srinagar that by sending them to the show the parents of the students and the GMC authorities have “overlooked their responsibilities and shown a lack of sense of dignity.”
But the students, who have travelled hundreds of miles from their homes in Kashmir valley to join thousands of their counterparts from about 700 medical colleges across India in the festival called Pulse 2013 say that the festival that takes place every year is just a part of their curriculum.
“It (festival) gives us an opportunity to interact with students of other medical colleges,” said a student who didn’t wish to be named. “This is not an immoral show that Geelani sahab wants people back home to believe.”
Pertinently, the Hurriyat leader had warned the GMC authorities over sending the students to Delhi for participation in the show by saying that those responsible would face trial.
“We have taken a serious notice of this cultural show and are investigating the matter seriously,” Mr Geelani said. “We will make it (inquiry) public and those responsible would be asked to face trial in open.”
Organised by the students’ union of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), the festival, which starts Monday, features scientific debates, quiz, painting and sports competitions besides singing and dancing shows.
A GMC alumnus, who works with a reputed Delhi hospital says that there was “no need of dragging religion” into the issue. “I remember participating in the show. I and my friends would go for shopping all day and attend the festival in the evening,” she said wishing anonymity. “Yes, there was singing and dancing but how many Kashmiris, especially medical students, can sing and dance?” she asked. “We were just onlookers.”
Not only the Hurriyat hawk, a doctors’ body has also opposed the participation of Kashmiri students in the show. “This is an obscene show where participants get to dance, sing and booze…this is immoral. My blood is boiling,” said Nissar-ul-Hassan, president of Doctors Association of Kashmir (DAK).
Masood Rashid, who according to his Facebook profile works as Registrar at the GMC, says that “we must never use our associations for politics” and that the people who are opposing this event have participated in the festival, both officially and unofficially. “They are totally apolitical, non-religious organizations, purely meant for the welfare of doctors,” he writes on his Facebook page.
He further says that the administration has not forced any student to participate in the show. “People must understand the fact that the GMC is not an Islamic institute…Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Christian and Buddhist students/ employees are studying/ working here….If Muslims don’t want to participate in cultural events, may be people from other religions wants to participate…so in any case administrators can’t stop cultural events,” he says.
Ifran Ul Shams, who is leading the GMC team in the event said “dirty” politics was being played over their participation. “People like Dr Nissar have misinformed Geelani and the latter without verifying the facts issued a statement, quite unwise of such a respected leader,” Shams says. “The morale of my team is very low because of the controversy.”
Sajjad Wani, a GMC, Jammu alumnus has questioned the intellect of Geelani behind issuing a warning to the GMC authorities. “Now I realise why Kashmiris are suffering from last 50 years; when a leader like Geelani can be easily mislead (sic) by a frustrated doctor like Nissar (DAK President), Geelani (sic) (into) issuing (a) fatwa without verifying (the) facts, his leadership qualities (are) seriously under question,” he writes.
Hours after the reports appeared in the media, the GMC authorities posted a clarification on their official Facebook page saying that the students have been given “strict instructions” not to participate in any “immoral cultural activity”.
“The medical students of Govt. Medical College, Srinagar every year go to All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi to participate in Academic and painting competitions,” the report said.
“Thus the report that (the) GMC students have gone for immoral cultural programme is not correct.”