New Militancy in Valley


He was Lashkar-e-Toiba’s (LeT) ‘poster boy’ not because he was its topmost militant commander in Kashmir but since he had successfully thwarted numerous attempts by security forces to ‘neutralise’ him for seven long years. For the security forces he was an enigma- someone who despite being ‘cornered’ several times always managed to escape. For the LeT he was the personification of its unmatched prowess and invincibility. Such was his propaganda value that while commenting on Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani’s funeral procession, LeT founder Hafiz Saeed boasted: “Did you see a man who was being carried on shoulders by the crowd? Do you know this youth who was leading the procession? Do you know who he is? He is ‘Ameer’ of LeT.”

The person Saeed was so fondly referring to with such unbounded pride was none other than Abu Dujana.

But a year later, things seem to have changed dramatically. Dujana is no more: trapped in a house, he refused to accept the security forces’ offer to surrender and in the ensuing gunfight Dujana was killed along with his associate Arif Lelhari. While the joint Hurriyat called for a bandh to express solidarity with these deceased militants, Hizb chief Syed Salahuddin paid rich tributes to this duo saying “their separation is really painful and unbearable.” Surprisingly, despite having achieved what in LeT’s parlance is referred to as ‘martyrdom’ – Dujana, whom LeT founder was personally so proud of and his associate Lelhari haven’t even received a single word of adulation from their mentors. Being something quite unusual this omission has fuelled many rumours.

Some say that Dujana and Lehari had quit the LeT and joined hands with Zakir Musa who has recently been appointed as head of Al Qaida’s newly created Kashmir cell called Ansar Ghawzat-ul-Hind. A former Hizbul Mujahideen commander, Musa shot into fame when he rejected the idea of ‘Kashmiri nationalism’ calling it ‘un-Islamic’ and declared at this mission was to establish a ‘caliphate’ here. Audio recordings believed to that of Dujana and Lelhari also confirm that the duo had accepted Musa’s leadership and the radical ideology of Al Qaida that he propagated. In another audio recording a person believed to be Musa can be heard paying tributes to this duo and hailing Dujana as the ‘first martyr’ in the war for an ‘Islamic Kashmir’.

This new trend of militants abandoning their original outfits and jumping onto the Al Qaida bandwagon is a matter of grave concern for the separatist leadership and militant groups. Unfortunately, even though both are fully aware of the looming dangers of radicalisation that is threatening to engulf Kashmiri youth, neither of the separatists nor the United Jihad Council (UJC) seems to be alarmed. The Hurriyat continues to underplay the gravity of the situation by dismissing it as ‘conspiracy’ hatched by New Delhi to malign the ‘self determination’ movement. And even though senior Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani has accepted that some “unseen and mysterious forces” were “desperate to create chaos in J&K” and admitted that “a few sick-minded elements are promoting all this and unintentionally a few immature youths get swayed,” the separatist conglomerate is doing nothing to arrest this disturbing trend.

The militant leadership too hasn’t been able to check this growing malaise and has failed on two accounts. Firstly, despite boasting about the unmatched loyalty of their cadres and their consummate dedication in Kashmir’s ‘freedom struggle’, militant groups have not been able to prevent their cadres from falling prey to fundamentalist ideology.

Secondly,while militant commanders talk glibly about overwhelming public support and their ability to ‘strike anywhere in India’, they haven’t even been able to track down elements who raise their (Daesh and al-Qaeda) flags during militant funerals. And just like the Hurriyat, even militant commanders are busy trivialising this grave problem by making meaningless statements like the Al Qaida having ‘no role in Kashmir’.

Violence cannot be compartmentalised into the ‘good’ or ‘bad’ category and any attempt to do so invariably opens floodgates for promoting aggressive behaviour. As the human mind is extremely adept in inventing mitigating circumstances to justify violence, an ugly situation gets created that cannot be reversed.

Violence cannot be compartmentalised into the ‘good’ or ‘bad’ category and any attempt to do so invariably opens floodgates for promoting aggressive behaviour. As the human mind is extremely adept in inventing mitigating circumstances to justify violence, an ugly situation gets created that cannot be reversed. Thus, while our leaders justify use of the gun for the purpose of achieving ‘self determination’ by citing examples of the role played by Subhash Chandra Bose and Bhagat Singh in India’s freedom struggle, those promoting fundamentalist ideology intentionally misinterpret religious edicts for sanctifying use of violence for the establishment of a theocratic state in Kashmir. And the resultant problem is that if the Hurriyat thinks that it has its own set of valid reasons to justify violence, so does Ansar Ghawzat-ul-Hind chief Zakir Musa!

Tailpiece: Famous novelist Ayn Rand’s observation that “We can ignore reality, but we cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality” aptly sums up the prevailing situation in Kashmir. We must have the courage to accept that by legitimising ‘gun culture’ in Kashmir we have ignored the reality that solution to any problem cannot be achieved by violence. We also should realise that to ignore the consequences of ignoring this reality would only compound our gravity of our mistake. While oppression may have forced a meritorious student like Burhan Wani to pick up a gun and become a ‘freedom fighter’, but let us not forget that it is our societal acceptance and glorification of violence that is turning ‘freedom fighters’ like Zakir Musa, Abu Dujana and Arif Lehari into fundamentalist determined to destroy our centuries old pluralistic identity.








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