Barking Up The Wrong Tree

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The crackdown on Jam’at-e-lslami continues with more than 450 activists being arrested out of which more than 200 belong to the restive South Kashmir region. If this was not it, the government has declared JeI as an ‘unlawful organisation’ under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. 

After the declaration, the tehsil, district, and head offices of JeI are being sealed by revenue and police officials. The move has evoked sharp criticism from the political and non-political spectrums alike, in Kashmir. Political leaders including Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti came down heavily on the Centre, as they think it to be the muzzling of dissenting voices. In this write-up, I will clarify how banning JeI is a counter-productive move on the part of the central government. 

Jam’at-e-Islami, being a socio-politico religious organisation, has a substantial base in Kashmir, next to that of the Sufi sect of Islam. JeI not only has educational institutions across Kashmir but it has also a well-devised charitable trust to help orphans, widows, and the financially challenged. 

Its education influence isn’t limited to teaching religious education because their faculty includes all the modern subjects taught in any CBSE or JKBOSE school. 

Banning JeI would mean risking the careers of hundreds of these students who know nothing about JeI, but only go to study in the schools run by them. When these innocent students have their education at the stake, won’t that brew a sense of alienation in them? 

The more important factor that should have considered before banning the organisation, was how this ‘unlawful organization’ was permitted to contest local Panchayat elections in 1969, when local elections were fought on a non-party basis. This very organization has also contested in the general elections of 1971, the state assembly elections of 1972 and that of 1983. Reportedly, these elections were marred by rigging and JeI couldn’t score big on the political stage. 

They were also accused to be tactically supporting PDP, in their election campaign. The Jammat cadres have admitted on record, that they covertly helped Mehbooba Mufti’s party win, to counter the secular policies of the National Conference, in 2014 Assembly elections . 

Since PDP is the same political party that BJP embraced to form government in the state, then how can its supporters be arrested for having links with militants. The Centre must have been abreast with the fact that JeI, covertly or overtly, has participated in the electoral processes in the past. 

It is high time that the government of India understands that their muscular policy has been failing in Kashmir. The tougher the iron fist gets, the stronger the resistance on the ground will become. This approach has only been pushing youngster into militancy and decreasing the chances of negotiations. A more plausible course of action could have been to streamline the Jammat cadres into democratic processes, and capitalize their popularity to take a step towards solving the Kashmir issue.

If JeI is being punished for the wrong policies of the separatists, it clearly is barking up the wrong tree.

Arshad Khan

 Tral,Pulwama


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