The menace that consumes Kashmiris


The killing of Burhan Wani exposed the mindset of separatists, soft separatists in garb of mainstream politicians and their sympathizers in the academia and the media. Nawaz Sharif’s comments hailing Burhan Wani, as martyr was in consonance and resonance with Burhan’s Indian sympathizers. They were not happy that a dreaded terrorist had been eliminated. There was not a word of praise for the security forces, nor any anguish for police personnel who along with their vehicle were thrown into raging Jhelum River by the pro-Pakistan mob.

It is intriguing that the sympathizers in India should suffer pain and tears for a Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist, who not only reveled in killing security forces, but also Muslim opponents (sarpanches). A number of Kashmiri girls had become victims of his lust. The stance of the sympathizers only emboldened the Hizbul Mujahideen, the parent and patron jihadi outfit based in Pakistan, which Burhan as the Commander owed allegiance to. Hizbul Mujahideen has been wreaking havoc on India and Kashmiris since 1989.

Burhan’s killing caused mass terror in its wake. Mass terror couched in demonstrations has been an intrinsic facet of jihadi militancy in the Kashmir Valley. This mass terror took the form of mass stone-pelting at security forces by murderously overwhelming security posts. This form of stone-pelting is more lethal than grenade attack. To be consigned to a river, by an anti-national mob, whatever its size, is a humiliation no self-respecting security force engaged in the sacred task of maintaining the integrity of the nation will brook. These anti-national elements, want to accomplish the impossible geographical feat of eloping with the Valley to Pakistan, unmindful of the reality that it is overlooked by domineering heights all around, inhabited by patriotic populace .

The fact that it has a Muslim majority cannot override Kashmiriyat.

Within the Valley there is a substantial constituency which is not seduced by Pakistan. This constituency consists of those, who despite being Muslims are respectful to their Hindu forefathers and the composite culture of Kashmiriyat. It is Kashmiriyat that culturally defines and distinguishes the Valley’s entity and not Islam. After all, the great poet Mohd Iqbal who later became a formidable ideologue of Pakistan was a close cousin of the famous Tej Bahadur Sapru. The very basis of Independent India was predicated on the emphasis on “Indian Islam” to which Kashmiriyat is intrinsic.

It is this very Kashmiriyat that Pakistan sponsored terrorists, indoctrinated and steeped in Wahhabi variety of Islam, struck and purged the Valley of Kashmiri Hindus, forcing them to become refugees in their own country. The size of the Kashmir Hindus was five lakhs. This was the worst manifestation of terror in India. Yet it is to the credit of Kashmiri Hindus, that they did not allow pain and tears of two decades to translate into terror. They did not produce one ‘Burhan’, but the ‘ethnically clean’ Valley is never at loss in realizing the number of requisite jihadis. What therefore impels the cause? Is it jihad against India? Why the clamour for a ‘failed-state’ and a hell on this earth called Pakistan? Are the reasons, therefore not religious? That Pakistan is the perpetrator of proxy war with jihad as its instrument is common knowledge, but who is promoting the ammunition factory in the Valley that provides the cannon fodder of jihadis and suicide bombers to Pakistan, uninterrupted? Can such an ammunition factories flourish without the tacit support of the Valley based political parties and politicians? In this regard Omar Abdullah’s comment after the liquidation of Burhan dispelled any doubts.

Burhan’s grave (a terrorist’s grave) as per Abdullah would act as the new galvanizing factor of youth in the Valley. Mr Abdullah continues to be the beneficiary of security provided by the Indian Security Forces. The bounden duty of the Security Forces is to ensure that terrorists waging war against India, unless they choose to surrender, need to be sent to their final destination, i.e. the grave.

The recent jihadi machinations in Kashmir were therefore deliberately portrayed by vested interests, as indigenous freedom struggle, when the truth is that it is part of a larger global jihadi narrative.

The Burhan episode and the developments in its aftermath was part of sinister chain of recent jihadi terror events in Asia and Europe. It followed jihadi attacks in Istanbul, Baghdad, Kabul, Dacca and even Mecca. In most of these terrorist attacks, Pakistan was the common factor. The targets, apart from foreigners, were also Muslims who did not subscribe to the Wahhabi brand of Islam. In Dacca suicide bombers slit the throat of their victims. Some Muslims suffered death because of their inability to recite Quran. Use of truck without explosives to mow down unsuspecting people in France underscores the new facet of jihad that leaves no financial or explosive trail.

Europe has been a victim of the Wahhabi brand of Islam because of the burgeoning and expansion of the Muslim ghettos and absence or destruction of all social and religious bridges with the majority community. The sociological chemistry brewing in these ghettos is hardly known because even the security forces are fearful in treading into them. After the purge of Kashmiri Hindus, the Valley has also turned into a similar ghetto.

Jihadi terror’s greatest logistical asset is their particular brand of religious ideology. The thread of this ideology runs through Europe, Africa, West Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, South East Asia, Kashmir Valley and some other parts of India. It needs reiteration that Kashmir Valley is also linked by the same thread. Just as the jihadi terrorists, who killed Ismaili Shias in Pakistan, just as Dhaka killers, the Kashmiri youth turning terrorists, if not as educated and privileged, are by no standards, least of all Indian, an impoverished lot.

The recent jihadi machinations in Kashmir were therefore deliberately portrayed by vested interests, as indigenous freedom struggle, when the truth is that it is part of a larger global jihadi narrative. Islamic State (IS) or LeT flags or Pakistani flags would not have been the abiding symbols outside mosques after Friday prayers, if it was not part of a pan-Islamic narrative. To impart it the flavor of India-specific grievances for terrorism – politics and political process is the imperative. It is here that the Valley based parties like the NC and PDP assume their suspicious role. In fact, this could be their assigned role by extra-territorial powers that they are beholden to. One of these powers definitely is Pakistan, and the Chinese, given their evolving strategic interests in J&K, are also not above suspicion.

The two family oriented Valley based parties have alternated in power for many years now. Had they adopted the much desired Indian nationalism as the dominant hue in their political agenda, it would have yielded ethnic and religious ‘convergence’ within J&K, and with the mainstream national narrative, away from Pakistan. It teases the mind to assess the consequences in the Valley, had Pakistan emerged as a successful and prosperous country. Is it that these Valley based political parties and the separatists are exploiting the vulnerabilities of ‘Failed Pakistan’ as well as ‘Growing India’, thus reaping political and economic bonanza?

The so-called J&K problem is an irony and miscarriage of geography of the state of Jammu and Kashmir — Pakistan occupied and Indian-held combined. The Kashmir Valley constitutes no more than eight percent of the total area of J&K, and in that only two percent of the area is impacted by the ‘Burhan syndrome’. 98 percent of Indian held J&K is absolutely peaceful. No geographical area of comparable size, anywhere in the world is as tranquil. The Hindu majority Jammu region, the Shia majority Kargil region and Buddhist Laddakh is entirely peaceful. The Kashmir Valley unlike the Jammu, Laddakh and Kargil region has no external borders. It is the people residing along the LoC and International Border in J&K have borne the hostile brunt of Pakistan for last seven decades.

It is travesty of truth that the Valley politicians have since independence been peddling the untruth that the whole of J&K is on boil. Contrast the situation in Indian held Kashmir and PoK. The Gilgit-Baltistan region has been traded to the Chinese for the second time in deference to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The rest and miniscule tail part of the PoK has no Kashmiris left. The Shias of Gilgit-Baltistan have been used and abused. Their majority status is about to be compromised. They were used for the Kargil conflict as part of the Northern Light Infantry and their dead bodies were never claimed. Not a drop of tear was shed in the Kashmir Valley over this beastly treatment of J&K brethren by Islamic Pakistan.

It is only the Valley, which serves as the nursery of jihadi terror, under the watchful eyes of the madrasas, mullahs, mosques, separatists and Valley embedded politicians. The mullah-madrasa-mosque combine in concert with Pak-ISI back jihadi outfits like LeT, JeM and HeM, prepare, train and indoctrinate recruits to the level of transforming them to suicide bombers. A similar infrastructure and incubatory exists in Western Pakistan to feed Taliban with suicide bombers for proxy war against Afghanistan. India, including the Kashmir Valley and Afghanistan are thus victims of same Pakistani jihadi machinery. The international community, particularly the West, must therefore view the Kashmir issue and insurgency in Afghanistan with the same Pakistan prism. The Pakistan military, the world should realize is the coward entity. It will never fight a conventional war in India and Afghanistan. It will continue using suicide bombers incubated in the madrasas, while military personnel send their children to English medium schools and destinations in the West. The Kashmir Valley elite are no different.

This could not have gone on forever. There is, but a new worry now. Children educated in English medium schools are also turning into suicide bombers. The Islamic State has used the English language to deadly effect in propagating Wahhabi philosophy. The buyers of this philosophy and indoctrination are intelligent enough to transform themselves to suicide bombers through online methods. Zakir Naik’s getup – a hybrid of Muslim skull-cap and coat and tie is not incidental. What Hafiz Saeed or Mullah Masood Azhar is in vernacular, Zakir Naiks in English. He very much induced the killers in Dhaka and is doing so in India and other parts of the world. Politicians and separatist leaders in Kashmir need to watch out.

The jihadi narrative in pursuance of the proxy war by Pakistan has gone by beyond the neighbourly dimension of India and Afghanistan. It has acquired a global phenomenon. Giving impetus to this Wahhabi phenomenon are politicians, not only in Kashmir but other parts of India as well. The donning of Arab shawls and caps during the Iftar parties by politicians came into vogue only when the petro-dollars began to fund political parties. Anti-national reverberations on official and media castigation of Zakir Naik were felt as far as Patna, which manifested in an anti-India rally.

We cannot allow India to become victim of this global phenomenon and allow the jihadi cancer to spread to the rest of the country. A certain amount of malignancy in this regard is in evidence in all the cardinal directions of the Indian territory.

What is the solution?

The answer to this question is predominantly ideological. The solution for Kashmir lies in reclaiming Kashmiriyat. In the larger national perspective, the solution lies in reclaiming the Indian brand of Islam, which is rooted in the soil of this country. The fusion of Hindu and Islamic streams, which gave rise to composite culture, came through the Persian route. The Arab component was very small. The language Urdu and Indian art and music have much been enriched by this fusion of Persian and Sanskrit cultures. It is this fusion that scholars like Tarek Fateh are emotional about. Pakistan incrementally abandoned this fusion and has brought itself to the brink of disaster. In his book, ‘A Life in Diplomacy’ Ambassador MK Rasgotra writes about the idea of Pakistan when it was gaining currency: “The Muslim League demand for Pakistan was on the agenda and Mookerjee (Shyma Prasad Mookerjee) asked me to speak on the subject in the main session. In about twenty minutes I made three or four points: the absurdity of a population of converts claiming to be a separate nation, the financial un-sustainability of the areas that might comprise two separated lands, Mr Jinnah would never get a Pakistan comprising all the areas he was claiming and, finally, Pakistan was a scheme for the wily English to leave behind a weak India and an even weaker Pakistan, forever dependent on its benefactor, Britain and other powers for security.”

Tarek Fateh is right when he says that he has been an Indian for last 5000 years and a Pakistani for a few decades. There can be no better definition of Indian brand of Islam. A prominent politician however finds this sentimentality expressed by Tarek Fateh indigestible because it is contrary to Wahhabi Islam , the same ideology fueled by petro-dollars that fetches votes. If Tarek Fateh had not been anti-Pakistan, he would have never attracted the hostility of Indian politicians and religious leaders in India, masquerading as nationalists. The Central Asian States have been able to insulate themselves from Wahhabism by rejecting all other forms of Islam except the type which is rooted to their soil. Countries like Tajikistan have banned beards and burqas on the grounds that it is alien to the culture of Tajiks.

Hence Jihadi terrorism in India does have ideological and political solutions.

(RSN Singh is a former military intelligence officer who later served in the Research & Analysis Wing. The author of two books: Asian Strategic and Military Perspective and Military Factor in Pakistan, he is also a Guest Blogger with Canary Trap. The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Canary Trap or any employee thereof)