A New Challenge in Kashmir

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When Zakir Musa was nominated as head of Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind (AGuH) it took everyone by surprise because this group has been specifically created by Al Qaeda for establishing its radical Islamic ideology in Kashmir. And when Musa threatened to decapitate Hurriyat leaders, both the separatist conglomerate and the United Jihad Council or UJC were caught in a bind. However, rather than confront this dangerous development, UJC chief and Hizb supremo Syed Salahuddin chose to sweep this issue under  the carpet by saying that “there is no scope or room for any international organisations like Islamic State (ISIS) and Al Qaeda, we don’t need them nor is there any necessity for their presence.”

Even though AGuH doesn’t have any major achievements to its credit, Musa’s popularity in Kashmir has soared incredibly and probably this is what forced UJC to denounce him as an “Indian agent.” Its spokesperson Syed Sadakat Hussain told a Srinagar based news agency of how “Indian intelligence agencies are busy in hatching conspiracies and are trying to use the paid agents and stooges to weaken the ongoing ‘freedom struggle’ in Kashmir… and trying hard to give the Islamic State and Al Qaeda colour to indigenous movement of Kashmir.” Separatist leaders also joined in and Hurriyat (G) chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani echoed Salahuddin’s views by saying, “our movement has nothing to do with these world-level groups (ISIS and Al Qaeda) and they are practically non- existent in the state. There is no role for these groups in our movement,” adding that the chances of ISIS or Al Qaeda gaining a foothold in Kashmir were “next to zero.”

Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq also hit out at groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda, accusing them of “promoting terrorism in the name of Islam.” He went on to denounce people like AGuH chief Zakir Musa saying that they “have no regard for Islamic teachings and values” and are “just maligning the great religion for their own personal benefits.” Mirwaiz also maintained that “Kashmir’s resistance movement has no link with Daesh or Al Qaeda” and this is undoubtedly true. However, the critical issue here is not whether Al Qaeda has any “role” in Kashmir or “link” with the self-determination movement. The more important thing that the joint resistance leadership (JRL) and the UJC chief need to clarify is that if AGuH is unwanted and its ideology is “un-Islamic,” then how has it still managed to take root in Kashmir and most significantly, how does the JRL and UJC propose free Kashmir from the menace of Musa and his men who are adamant to turn Kashmir into a caliphate?

The recent killing of six AGuH militants in Arampora village of Tral on Saturday by government forces and its aftermath should serve as a grim warning to both Hurriyat and militant groups fighting in Kashmir for a number of reasons. Firstly, this operation has disproved the myth being propagated by the JRL and UJC that AGuH is the creation of “Indian agencies. Secondly, even though the JRL did not offer funeral prayers or make any public appeals after these killings, people still thronged to the funeral sites in such large numbers that as per media reports, 10 back-to-back rounds of funeral prayers had to be performed in order to accommodate the huge crowds.

Lastly, even though the JRL didn’t give any call for observing a shutdown following these deaths, residents of Tral observed a complete shutdown not for one or two but for four days. This is much more than what the people in Kashmir normally observe when fighters of UJC affiliated militant groups are killed and this prolonged shutdown clearly illustrates the growing popularity of the radical group. The most surprising thing is that all this has happened even though Musa has openly threatened to behead our leaders and even denounced the self-determination struggle in Kashmir. And even though the JRL and UJC have rightly condemned Al Qaeda for being a terrorist group that is forcibly imposing an un-Islamic agenda, growing number of Kashmiris holding its affiliate AGuH in very high esteem is a matter of concern. So the question that we can’t ignore at any cost is- where did we go wrong?

If we want to insulate our people from fundamentalist ideologies then we must have the courage to accept our mistakes because only this would help us find effective remedies. While Geelani sahib may not subscribe to the ideology being propagated by Al Qaeda, but by presiding over funeral prayers held in absentia for its founder Osama bin Laden, the Hurriyat (G) chairman may have inadvertently created a soft spot for Al Qaida in the hearts of Kashmiris. And Salahuddin sahib’s announcement that “If al-Qaeda, Taliban or any other organisation or country extends a helping hand to the oppressed Kashmiris, we will welcome it,” too could have led the public to see these groups as ‘liberators’ and not terrorist organisations. The lesson to be learnt is that people in public life should be careful while expressing views or doing things that are controversial and can be misinterpreted by the public or exploited by inimical forces!

 

 

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