Disequilibrium: Lack of Kashmir policy

 As the dreaded Saudi political Wahabi Islam takes root in Kashmir more aggressively than ever before, replacing the strong Sufi moorings that existed for years, it is ironical that Moulvis from Bihar and UP are spreading the new cult in the madrasas and masjids. Socmedia has done irreparable damage in furthering this Islamic sect of Salafi Wahabism. Last year in January, an assessment report prepared by the Centre and handed over to National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval pin pointed several actionable inputs – ''Control” of the mosque, madrasa, print and TV media, changes in political atmosphere, strengthening of intelligence set-up and reaching out to the moderate faction of Hurriyat – were some of the suggestions on the prevailing situation in the Kashmir Valley. The report, compiled after securing inputs from the ground, suggested long-term “actionable points” and was sent to Doval. But all to no avail. The burgeoning divide between Hindu Jammu and Muslim Valley with a section of the State govt mainstreaming separatism actively as radicalisation becomes the new normal in the Valley is taking geographical location and the people who inhabit it further and further away from India. The Burhan Wani killing has actually become the defining moment in the brutal cage match called Kashmir. Spawning a movement born out of the deepest recesses of an inward looking paranoia driven by political Islam at one level and the practical and primal fear of being subsumed by a Hindu India. The journey from adolescence to manhood interrupted and then emboldened by the cult of the gun, unshackling Kalashnikov toting fanboys with one underlying credo of azadi.

The reactionary Ahl-e-Hadith or the Salafis, popularly but contemptuously referred to as the Wahabis, are a constituent group of Sunni Muslims. They adhere to the pristine teachings of Islam as enshrined in the Holy Quran and Sunnah. The number of  their. Mosques have doubled in the last 27 years in Kashmir. Money keeps gushing in from UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, all of which are not surprisingly Salafist practicing states. In fact, one of the most under reported things done by PM Modi is his outreach in these specific nations to counter Pakistan's influence in this area. As far back as 1986,

Jagmohan had argued that “Article 370 is nothing but a breeding ground for the parasites at the heart of the paradise. It skins the poor. It deceives them with its mirage. It lines the pockets of the 'power elites'. On Monday, an embattled Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti,

practitioner of soft separatism herself called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and apprised him about the overall situation in Jammu and Kashmir. With south Kashmir literally burning, the chief minister stressed on "finding ways and means to end the cycle of violence in the state by addressing the element of alienation among the youth". She said the people of the state, having suffered immensely during the turmoil of the past three decades, were looking up to the country's political leadership to support them in getting out of the cycle of uncertainty and deaths. There was nothing new in what she said and it isn't that the PM is not aware of Kashmir's problems, but for some strange reason, there is no action on this front other than sending jackboots to counter the growing local militancy which had been stamped out by S M Sahai during Omar Abdullah's tenure.

South Kashmir has emerged as Terror Central and the killing of local commanders has unleashed a fresh spiral of violence. Burhan Wani was slain on July 8, 2016 and since then he has attained iconic status. Yusuf Jameel, a Kashmiri journalist has tracked a trend which clearly shows that the Wani killing has become a catalyst for Hizb and LeT attracting local militia from Anantanag, Kulgam, Pulwana and Shopian. Under Operation All Out, the Indian Army is constantly flushing out militants and smashing their hideouts at great cost. Almost 200 local youth have joined the terror groups after Wani's killing. Security forces have registered many kills in recent times, but each time a local militant is killed, the anger wells up in the local populace, their martyrdom processions are raging successes. It has come to a point where the narrative has turned against Hindia (Hindu India) and every local youth killed is a shaheed. Jameel argues that their graves are shrines of the disenchanted youth who then take up arms to free Kashmir.

Gen. Syed Ata Hasnain writing a leader recently explained how an encounter went – Altaf Ahmad Khan, the current SSP Anantnag and a veteran JK Police officer knows the score. He set up the mechanism to communicate with both the young terrorists and convinced one of them to surrender, but Rauf Khanday refused. What Altaf Khan then felt is the stark truth that many in Kashmir and in fact all over India have hardly understood; that Khanday had a false interpretation of the Quran fed to him. SSP Altaf Khan tried discussing with him aspects of the false interpretation but two way mobile communication under the tension of an ongoing encounter is hardly the environment in which the Quran’s message can be interpreted. “I narrated verses from Quran and advised him that whatever he was doing was against the teachings of Islam. The conversation continued for over 30 minutes during which Khanday got abusive. But I ignored all this because my intention was to save him from getting killed,” Khan is reported to have later said. Khanday’s parents were brought to the encounter site but their urgings too could not succeed; he became violent and was eventually killed.

Unfortunately there is no dialogue between the Centre and the State, the interlocutor Dinesh Sharma appears to have failed to make any ostensible headway leave alone breakthrough. The return of the gun cult among the local youth is the single biggest development as the struggle has turned alarmingly indigenous with India being viewed from the prism of an occupation force. Pakistan has succeeded in its strategic imperative of turning the Kashmir freedom movement as a local struggle against a Hindu fundamentalist occupier. This rabid indoctrination courtesy the internet and madrasas and the non stop anti India babble from the joint resistance leadership team of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Farooq and Yasin Malik is working as the situation careens dangerously out of control. The force multiplier has emerged through the return of local Mujh, one that is willing to die for Kashmir's freedom and this is what S M Sahai and Co had cauterised. Since January 1 till April 1, the jack boot stratagem has worked as India holds south Kashmir at a heavy cost, for every two militants killed, our security forces have lost one – 57 terrorists killed, 25 soldiers have lost their lives along with 11 civilians. But for the bravery of our security forces, south Kashmir would have been designated a liberated zone last year itself.

What does not add up is the policy of drift, as the nebulous centre refuses to take cognisance of the gravity of the Kashmir crisis, a virtual battlefield now. Policy mavens and our polity have failed us as Kashmir spins out of control. Despite being in power in Kashmir under the Agenda for Alliance umbrella, the level of discontent has gone up accretively since the death of Mufti Saheb, today the situation is grim and there are no palliatives for succor. The sheer distaste for doing anything substantive in Kashmir on the part of the BJP Govt in Delhi leaves one fuming and at the same time with a sense of incredulity. This aimless and meandering policy is ensuring that we lose Kashmir, its people definitely, even as we retain control over the geographical location. Under the laws of westphalian sovereignity, it remains a matter that India needs to resolve on its own, since it is a domestic issue despite Pakistan's besotted claims on it. How can you not have a proper Kashmir policy at such a crucial time, a definitive policy which involves all stakeholders? Unfortunately for India, the BJP has allowed Kashmir to slip out of its grasp. Are we oblivious or impervious then? Or both.


Sandeep Bamzai