Absurd political correctness stops Indians from calling ‘Kashmiriyat’ what it really is — facade for unabashed Islamism.
Contrary to the popular belief, communal politics in Kashmir Valley is not a recent phenomenon. It was around the turn of the century that fundamentalist maulanas started preaching jihad against the Hindu Dogra ruler. Plenty of justification was available under Shari’a law against an infidel king ruling the faithful and the indoctrination was accordingly taken up. The political correctness emanating from Delhi often talks about Kashmiriyat and the syncretic Sufi culture of Kashmir Valley. Nothing is farther from truth.
The year 1931 marks a watershed in the history of communalisation of the Valley. It was in July 1931 that the first major riot in the Valley occurred. It was aimed at the Kashmiri Pandits and was well orchestrated from the mosques. It started with a meeting by Sheikh Abdullah, and fanned into violence by an invited Ahmadi. A research paper on the 1931 riots can be read here. Kashmiri Pandit activist Sushil Pandit has also given a detailed account of the truth behind the riots. Hindus were set upon, killed, maimed, thrown into river, their properties burnt, some forcibly converted to Islam, and were subjected to every kind of unimaginable atrocity. All this happened in the kingdom of a Hindu King with absolute powers.
Around the same time as the Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI) was founded by Abul Ala Mawdoodi who later teamed with Sayyid Qutb of Muslim Brotherhood to fashion a completely new narrative, the seeds of Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu Kashmir (JEIJK) was established in J&K. JEI as well as JEIJK had the establishment of an Islamic State as its avowed goal. JEIJK’s establishment was formalised in the Indian J&K in 1953 with its seat in Shopian in South Kashmir. The JEIJK has spread these ideals, principally the establishment of Shari’a Law in J&K on the basis of it being a Muslim majority country. (They do treat it as a country). The Hizb-ul-Mujahideen was only a militant arm of the JEIJK, which has now taken an independent route as it accused the JEIJK of moderating it stance on the issue of taking part in elections.
Why I am giving this background is because there is an overwhelming opinion in mainstream India that Kashmir always had a great tolerant Sufi tradition and was governed by a culture of Kashmiriyat. This is only as true as the fake narrative of Kashmiris being secular in outlook. The opinion in mainland India blames the militancy on what it calls the growth of Salafism in the Valley without understanding what is meant by Salafism.
India was partitioned on the basis of a two-nation theory. Muslim League was not a Salafi organisation. The principal force behind radicalisation of the Valley has been the Muslim Conference led by Sheikh Abdullah in the early 1930s (Sheikh Abdullah later quit to form his own National Conference) and JEIJK till the turn of the century. After that the reins have gone into the hands of Hurriyat Conference, which is also not a Salafi organisation. Armed jihad in the cause of Islam, in the Islamic doctrine, is not a monopoly of the Salafis. It is part and parcel of the Qur’an and the Shari’a trilogy.
There is a great confusion in the minds of Indians that Sufis are a tolerant people. They do follow singing and dancing traditions, but along with Shias they were in the forefront of India’s Partition, as also in various blasphemy riots in the sub-continent. Killers of Swami Shraddhanand, MahashayRajpal, and Salman Taseer for blasphemy were all Barelvi Sufis, as were the rioters protesting persecution of Rohingyas in Bombay, or creating ruckus on Kamlesh Tiwari. Sufis are as much for Dar-ul-Islam as the Salafis or the Muslim Brotherhood. Salafism is an ideology whereas Muslim Brotherhood and Jamaat-e-Islami are organisations.
Be that as it may. Let me point out that Abul Ala Mawdoodi, the founder of JEI actually opposed Partition of India along with the Deobandis. Both were as much a Hanafi school follower as the Barelvi Sufis. Mawdoodi opposed Pakistan as Muslim League did not guarantee a Shari’a ruled state and opposed Partition as his goal was Islamisation of the entire sub-continent, a goal which would be thwarted if Partition took place along religious lines. Abul Ala Mawdoodi went on to found Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan even as the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind went on the moderate path and accepted democracy after Partition. JEIH pursues the goal of Dar-ul-Islam by teaching its followers the principles of tactical voting to grab power. JEIJK, on the other hand, radicalised Kashmiris on the Shari’a principle until recently. The Hurriyat is the successor of JEIJK in Kashmir and follows the JEIP line.
An additional problem is related to the fiqh divisions in Islam. Indians follow the Hanafifiqh (school) in which religious interpretation can only be given by authorised clerics. The principle is called Taqlid. Followers are called Muqallid. Salafis are typically “ghairmuqallid”. (Indian maulanas criticised and issued fatwas against ZakirNaik for being a ghairmuqallid, and not for the content of what he was preaching). However, Salafism being an ideology can always influence clerics of all Taqlidifiqhs, who do use it to radicalise their followers. Salafis can be found across all the main schools of Sunni Islam (Shafii, Maliki, Hanafi and Hanbali) but are most pervasive among Hanbalis, whose sub-continental branch is called Ahl-e-Hadis. Taqlid does act as a barrier to Salafism in India. Saudi Arabia follows the Hanbalifiqh, which does not follow the principle of Taqlid. That makes it easier for the Saudi Muslims to self radicalise and fan out to preach the Salafi ideology. This ideology preaches literalism and puritanism, holding only the first three generations of Islam as the true model to follow. That results in dubbing any talk of reform as haram.
Now let us look as what the Jamaat and others have been teaching the Kashmiris since the 1930s, based on Shari’a:
Muslims are obliged to live under Allah’s law, i.e., Shari’a
Shirk (idolatry), Kuffr (unbelief), irtidad (apostasy), and gustakhi (blasphemy) are serious offences punishable by death.
A Muslim is supposed to submit only to Allah’s nominee on earth, i.e. a Caliph Democracy (equal rights and votes) is haram, as there can be no equality between a Muslim and a non-Muslim, a man and a woman, and a master and a slave under Islam Nation State is an un-Islamic concept, so India as a democratic nation is unacceptable. It is the duty of Muslims to capture power and impose Shari’a over entire J&K, starting with the Valley.
That being the case, any solution for tackling Kashmir militancy will fail unless it targets this long-standing indoctrination. As a matter of fact, Islamists regard establishment of a Shari’a State in Kashmir as only the first stop towards the ultimate goal of establishment of Dar-ul-Islam in the whole of India. Jammu is going to be the next stop. Assam and Bengal would be the next on radar. The whole philosophy finds resonance with the two-nation theory of Pakistan’s establishment. Two-Nation Theory had two components. First, Hindus and Muslims were separate nations; and second, Hindus and Muslims were equal nations. Its first target was achieved with Partition. The second target could not be achieved because India turned out to be much bigger and got its economics right since the 1990s. Hence the asymmetric warfare by the Pakistanis concentrates on strengthening the Shari’a ideology in Kashmir and the rest of India. Separatism and integration of Pakistan is not the main issue, but simply an adjunct of this quest for equality.
The violence in Kashmir is only incidental as armed jihad is a valid means under Shari’a. Indians have often wondered why the Indian Muslim Clerics oppose abolition of Article 370 and remain silent over the ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits. This is because no Islamic cleric worth his salt can place Shari’a above democracy. To recall Christine Fair in her much acclaimed book Pakistan Army’s way of war, “Even if India were to gift Kashmir to Pakistan, its hostility to India will not end”. An unstated part of the two-nation theory has always been that “It is Islam’s destiny to rule the world, and therefore the whole of Indian sub-continent”. Politically correct analysts call it a fool’s talk only that it isn’t. It is the philosophy of Shari’a.
The problem in Kashmir is compounded because of India’s inability to rise beyond political correctness. Very few commentators and politicians are willing to catch the bull by the horn. Even politicians from Jammu are not willing to call a spade a spade. This prevents correct diagnosis of the problem, thereby defeating any chance of a solution. Blaming Pakistan has become the standard prescription. Reality is that Pakistan is only exploiting a situation that has always existed in the Valley, at least since 1931.
This is my diagnosis of the Kashmir militancy. I will deal with the solution to the Kashmir problem in the next part.