Srinagar, October  11 (JKNT)  Jammu and Kashmir’s education minister Naeem Akhtar  who was threatened with dire consequences if he attempted to open the schools to sabotage the ongoing “ tehreek”  ( movement)   in Kashmir  by militant groups and separatists  has  pleaded  with senior  separatist leader and  die-hard  Pakistan  protagonist   Syed Ali Shah Geelani to allow the  children to return to schools.


Akhtar has made this plea to the separatist leader  in an open letter in the opinion columns of   a leading English daily , Greater Kashmir, in a clear response to the threats held out to  him  by Lashkar-e-Toiba and Geelani himself for  seeking to  open the schools at a time when the  peoples’ movement was marching toward its goal.


The Education Minister , who was  the closest confidant  of late Chief Minister   Mufti Mohmmad Sayeed  and retains his ministerial position in  the Mehbooba Mufti government , has  taken exception to him  being called  as   a traitor to the cause , invoked  some  incidents hailing Geelani  as a great advocate of education  as also   a religious scholar .


Akhtar who was dismissed from service   in 1990  on charges of sedition, later, however , restored following a  73-day employees’ strike  and political pressure, is known to be sympathetic to the  separatist camp  but enjoys  a high caliber  knowledge and command over   various language . Most of the time he had been critical of  Delhi in his writings .


Referring to threats to his life, he reminded Geelani that it is inevitable, but  he has sincere wish the children of Kashmir should perform better than his own children who are well settled  in their lives. Naeem also  drew attention of Geelani on  both of them being “ peer”, those who impart  Islamic education and lead prayers  at mosques.


This is  for the first time that the  Education Minister has pleaded with  top separatist leader in this manner  against the backdrop of an ongoing agitation  in which nearly 90 lives have been lost over the past three months.