Kashmiriyat under Threat!

Niloofar Qureshi
July 17, 2017 0 Comments OPINION 141 Views

Besides being a horrific act, the time and place of the recent lynching of a Kashmiri police officer by a local mob further shamed the people of Kashmir because it happened just outside the historic Nowhatta Jamia Masjid and that too during the Laylat al Qadr celebrations. This unpardonable incident occurred just weeks after an army officer belonging to Kashmir who had come on leave to attend the marriage of a relative was abducted and killed by unknown gunmen. Unfortunately, since public response to these gruesome killing of Kashmiris by brother Kashmiris was muted, critics got an excellent opportunity to pass uncomplimentary comments on the lack of moral and ethical values in Kashmiri society.
However, those pointing fingers at us were proved wrong by the spontaneity with which people of Kashmir put aside their conflicting political agendas and ideological views to come together and condemn the terrorist attack on a bus carrying Amarnath pilgrims. This is something to be proud of because it proves beyond any doubts that we as a society do not approve or condone senseless violence against innocents, no matter who the perpetuator is. Though public response to this despicable act has once again proved that ‘Kashmiriyat’ is very much alive and kicking, another incident that took place shortly thereafter is a grim reminder of a grave threat looming over our pluralistic values.
Reports appearing in the media reveal that something unprecedented happened during the funeral of three Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) militants who were killed in a gunfight with security forces last Wednesday. Quoting media persons present there, these reports mention some disturbing things that happened during the funeral procession. The first one is that armed militants who were present at the funeral and claimed to be the followers of renegade HM commander Zakir Musa ordered mourners not to follow the customary practice of draping bodies of the slain militants with the Pakistani flag or chant pro-azadi slogans. What is disquieting is that this is not a ‘first’ but a repeat of what happened in April during the funeral of a HM militant in Pulwama when two armed militants enforced a similar dicktat!
It has also been reported that the body of downtown resident Sajad Gilkar who was one of the three HM militants killed in Budgam encounter was draped with the Islamic state flag by militants claiming to be ‘followers’ of Musa. If this true then we have a very serious problem on our hands that requires concerted action by one and all. We unnecessarily continue to blame fate and curse our luck for the sorry state of affairs in Kashmir, conveniently forgetting that if gunmen today have no qualms about killing Kashmiris, then it is our continued silence on their wrongdoings that is also very much responsible for emboldening them. And the fact that a newcomer like Musa who has crossed all limits of civility by openly threatening to behead our revered leaders is finding followers is a clear indication that we have failed to inculcate our cherished societal values in the younger generation.
This is not for the first time that the heightened arrogance exhibited our youth and their proclivity towards violence has come to light. Just last year during the summer unrest we experienced how bands of young boys on their own formed vigilante squads to enforce curfew restrictions announced by joint Hurriyat and in the process not only humiliated and harassed commuters but didn’t even spare doctors, medical teams and ambulances proceeding for duty. We also read about these squads openly disrespecting curfew relaxation periods by attacking locals and setting private vehicles ablaze. And we also saw how despite these acts of highhandedness being brought to their notice, our leaders avoided advising, cautioning or admonishing the errant youth. Instead, like always, they defended mob violence by saying that it was a justified response to excesses committed by security forces and continue to do so even today!
There are many who believe that since our leaders invariably cite widespread mob violence during protests as an indicator of public resentment against New Delhi, they intentionally overlook deviant behaviour of the youth in order to strengthen their case on Kashmir before the international community. However, if this is indeed the Hurriyat’s strategy then it needs immediate re-examination because the international community doesn’t subscribe to the Hurriyat’s theory that mob violence and vandalising or destroying public property is a legitimate form of expressing public discontentment. In the recent past, mass uprisings have rocked Kashmir and memories of the 2010 and 2016 protests in which the number of protesters killed, blinded and injured ran into thousands are still fresh in our minds. However, despite both Pakistan and the Hurriyat’s repeated demands, the international community neither intervened to diffuse the crisis nor did anything at all to investigate charges of law enforcing agencies committing excesses. Isn’t the International community’s message clear?
Violence is a negative human trait that attacks a person’s reasoning ability making the individual completely impervious to logical thinking and Musa is a typical example. Being a matter of life and death, deciding to pick up a gun is a serious affair and I’m sure Musa would have taken the conscious decision to join the HM only after being fully convinced by its ideology. And the fact that he was nominated as Burhan Wani’s successor goes to show that Hizb supremo Syed Salahuddin had complete faith that Musa would never abjure the HM’s ideology. However, Musa’s rapid degeneration from a ‘freedom fighter’ to a fundamentalist is not at all surprising. Joining the HM gave him a violent mindset and once this happened he lost his capacity to think rationally and thus even a well read person like Musa with a civil engineering degree from a prestigious institute in Chandigarh has ended up accepting obscurant interpretations of Islam!
It is a well known fact that the HM doesn’t forget or forgive those who jump ship and the fact that Musa has openly challenged the HM’s ‘azadi’ oriented ‘armed struggle’ by declaring his mission of establishing an Islamic Caliphate in Kashmir and threatening to decapitate Hurriyat leaders has made him all the more vulnerable. Yet, his being safe and sound proves that he has substantial local support that seems to be increasing rapidly and this is the real worry for all Kashmiris. Thus, there is a need for our leaders and militant commanders to shed their personal prejudices and seriously reconsider eulogising violence. We must not forget that while violence has achieved nothing as far as getting us our ‘right to self determination’ is concerned it has created an environment that serves as a fertile breeding ground for propagating fundamentalist ideology.
Tailpiece: Till now we have been adopting an ostrich-like approach by dismissing any discussion or debate on this subject by saying that the IS has no role in Kashmir. However, now that we have Musa and his followers around, the existence of IS ideology in Kashmir is no more a hypothetical issue. Thus, any further procrastination on adopting effective measures to prevent IS ideology from taking roots in the minds of our youth could have very serious adverse effects that may well prove to be irreversible!


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