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Islamic Fundamentalism in Kashmir

by O. N. Trisal

ON TrisalThe crisis in Kashmir has a complicated matrix. There are several aspects to this crisis. I am going to state only some aspects of it, especially the menacing rise of Islamic fundamentalism to disorient the minds of Kashmiri Muslims as a pre-requisite for Pakistan to launch the present armed onslaught or what is known as its proxy war in Kashmir. The violent onslaught launched by the Pakistan- backed terrorists in Kashmir has been claiming more and more innocent victims as their bloody drive stretches on, leaving behind a trail of death and destruction.

Unprecedented in the history of the Valley, the violent Pakistan-backed campaign triggered off a massive migration of Kashmiri Pandits to the places of safety. According to official estimates over 300,000 people have abandoned their homes in the Valley and sought refuge in Jammu, Chandigar, Delhi, Lucknow and other places. About ninety percent of those who bid farewell to their homes are from the minority Kashmiri Pandits.


The Islamic terrorists in Kashmir.

Pathetic and heart rending is the story of Kashmiri Pandits from the rural belt of the Valley, most of whom had to flew in the darkness of the night to escape the ever vigilant eyes of the blood thirsty terrorists. It was a heart rending scene to watch women and children, old and the infirm, stretching along the Srinagar, Jammu National Highway as the Pandits from the villages in South Kashmir began their hazardous journey, away from the clutches of the terrorists. Dazed and aghast at the sudden change of fortunes and tears rolling down their cheeks, they had a last look at "MAUJ KASHMIR" (mother Kashmir) and bowed in reverence to her as the Valley slipped away from their gaze at the Jammu tunnel. History has subjected Kashmiri Pandits to severe tests and taught them to bear their lot with patience and fortitude. Deeply religious though, the Kashmiri Pandits have never retaliated violence with violence. Utterly tolerant and liberal towards people of other faiths, there hardly is an instance in the history of the community when the Pandits expressed their disapproval of the religious practices of faiths in Kashmir.

To Kashmiri Pandits the numerous holy springs, the blue mountain lakes and the silvery peaks of the majestic mountains are sacred and important milestones of their 5000 years long ancestry during which Kashmir emerged as the "SHARDA PEETHA", a hallowed place for the ancient learning. To be known as a Kashmiri Pandit is not to be recognized as a person subscribing to clannish mediocrity, but a matter of pride for those who sought over the centuries to shape a distinct style of life by contributing to the knowledge and the learning, despite unheard cruelty and tyranny suffered by them at the hands of cruel rulers. The pathways through which the members of the Kashmiri Pandit community passed six hundred years ago are mute witnesses to the sufferings the community has undergone to preserve and uphold its distinctive style and heritage.
 
 

Seal of the Central Office of Allah Tigers
Allah-O-Akbar
MUSLIMS AWAKE
ALL INFIDELS VANISH
JIHAD IS APPROACHING

The terrorist's intimidation:

Leave Kashmir in one month otherwise danger to life and family. This is Last Warning.
By Order
Dist. Commander
Alarming posters, part of the terrorists' deadly arsenal, on the walls of Kashmiri Pandit homes and shops.

The mass exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley in the medieval times led to a great turmoil and finally to an uprising under General Magrey, who chased away the fanatics from the valley. The period also witnessed a great intellectual ferment, and a religious renaissance whose two great exponents, Nand Reshi and Lal Ded dealt a severe blow to religious bigots and the fundamentalists. Nand Reshi and Lal Ded beame popular ideologs of Rashi movement in the Valley, and this proved a spiritual and cultural background for Budshah who recalled the Kashmiri Pandits, who had self-exiled themselves from the Valley in the face of persecution. It is this Rashi cult, based on oneness of man and the love of fellow beings, that gave solid foundation to the secular tradition of Kashmiris, and inspired them to effectively counter those who sought to fan sentiments of hatred and revenge.

It needs to be emphasized that it was this Rishi orientation of Kashmiri Psyche that made it difficult for Pakistan to force Kashmir to capitulate to two nation theory in 1947 when they unleashed the tribal raiders to grab the Valley by force, but in the face of solid resistance and the popular unity, their nefarious game failed to materialize. The Pakistanis tried their hand at widespread sabotage and subversions by recruiting mercenaries in the state. They also launched digressive forays, the biggest one in 1965, in the hope that the Muslims of the Valley would rise to support them. Similarly in the 1971 armed conflict, they failed to take even an inch of the state territory, although they spared no efforts to make armed thrusts in the Valley and elsewhere in the State.

Defeated and disappointed, the Pakistanis hatched new conspiracies and designed a fresh blue print of armed intervention to be spearheaded by an organization whose political and ideological ethos was alien to Kashmiris. It was Jamat-I-Islami and its front organizations which became the focal point especially ISI, under whose guidance, systematic drive, buttressed by the liberal flow of Gulf money, was launched with a view to filling the political vacuum in the state after the demise of Sheik Mohamed Abdullah. The story how the Jamat cadres penetrated the administration, the armed police, the intelligence agencies, and seized the university, the professional colleges, university affiliated colleges and schools, when known fully, would startle many for the way treachery and blackmail was tolerated in the sensitive borders state.


Innocent victims of Pakistan's Terrorism.

The Militant Pro-Pakistani Jamat cadres were not only encouraged to preach treason, but enforce Islamization of administration through a massive campaign of indoctrination which was directed towards weaning away the minds of the local Muslim youths and professional classes from the "indigenous Islamic" tradition which espoused the tradition of brotherhood and amity. The campaign reached a crescendo, from 1981 & 1982 onwards, when a number of "world Islamic conferences" were held in Kashmir, one of them attended by delegates from several Islamic countries, including the Imam of Mecca. Spearheading the campaign for secession and for Pakistan, the Jamat skillfully utilized the presence of the religious leaders from the Islamic countries to raise their own prestige and thus emerge as a potential Pro-pak force in the Valley.

The rise of the Jamat in the State did not merely signify the failure of the secular forces to combat a menacing growth in the polity of the sensitive border state, it formed the key elements in the plans formulated by the late Pakistani dictator, General Zia-Ul-Haq through controlled insurgency in the State. In 1988, when the late Pakistani dictator's conspiracy against the country unfolded in the shape of widespread bomb blasts, killings and destruction of property in the State, the country gradually became aware of the diabolical plans Pakistan had forced by hiring hundreds of Jamat-I-Islami controlled Muslim youth. They were taken to training camps in Pakistan and Pakistan occupied Kashmir to be used as pawns in the proxy war against India.

Though Jamat has succeeded in spreading its organizational tentacles in all the corners of the State, it has not emerged as an organization with mass appeal. Despite its formidable network of over 600 study circles, units, hundreds of schools, and mosque committees, a lingering suspicion lurked in the minds of the Muslims, that the organization was preaching a variety of Islam which was alien to the religious ethos of Islam known to the Kashmiri majority of whom were "Ahali Itqad" and venerated saints, peers and reshis in common with their Hindu brethren.

To overcome this vital shortcoming, the Jamat leaders and activists at the instance of their Pakistani patrons resorted to a campaign of witch-hunt against secular minded muslims and staunch nationalists. As a part of the campaign, they virtually ransacked libraries in the educational institutions, and ordered ban on books which did not correspond to their brand of knowledge about man and his world. In Kashmir University, the library was pruned and more than 2,000 books which included all the books on Hindu philosophy, Milton's "Paradise Lost" and George Bernard Shaw's plays, and books by many other world renowned writers were thrown out, in the true Nazi style. As part of Islamisation campaign, the Jamat hoodlums also forcibly converted Kashmir University's Canteen Hall into a mosque. Similar things happened in the prestigious Institute of Medical Science, the Medical College and Teachers Training Colleges in the Valley, where Jamat affiliated teachers forced closure of classes where Darwin's Theory of Evolution was tought to the students on the plea that it did not conform to Islamic tenets.

This witch-hunt campaign however did not pay the desired results, as it failed to project the Jamat as a mass organization to whose appeal vast sections of people could respond in spontaneous manner. This serious lacuna in the strategy of Pakistan was sought to be overcome through other well thought out terror campaigns directed mainly against the members of the minority Kashmiri Hindu community. The terror campaign began with day light raids on wine shops, which were mostly owned by non-Muslims. In these drives, goods worth several corores of Rupees were destroyed as many of the wine shops were bombed and the owners subjected to attacks with nobody to defend them. The terror campaign stepped up further with the sudden appearance of "KLASHNIKOV" wielding youth who struck at innocent persons and mercilessly killed them. Anyone found voicing disapproval of the killings was a "MUKBIR" (informer) and therefore, silenced with the fire from the automatic weapons. The "KLASHNIKOVS" were liberally provided to militants by Pakistan along with the training in their use.

Initial reaction to the series of killings by the Pakistan trained terrorists was one of disbelief and shock as most of the victims were cadres of parties with a proven record of nationalism. First among the Muslims, to pay with his life for his secular convictions, was Mr. Mohammad Yusuf Halwai of the NaLional Conference. He was gunned down in broad day light shortly after the assassination of Shri Tika Lal Taploo, a Hindu community leader, who endeared himself to the Hindus as well as to the Muslims, not because of the political views to which he subscribed, but because of the missionary zeal with which he served the poor, no matter whether a Hindu or a Muslim.

Taploo's death though shocking, spread a wave of anger among the Kashmiri Hindus as also a number of Muslims. It was followed by the killing nf another prominent Kashmiri Pandit, a retired Judge, Pt. Nila Kanth Ganjoo, who had ordered the hanging of Maqbool Bhatt for having killed a police inspector in a border township of theValley, after infiltrating into Kashmir from Pakistan. The gunning down of Taploo and Ganjoo was sought to be overlooked as Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front came out with assurances that the two victims had been punished for reasons other than that they were Hindus.

The JKLF also pledged that they were for secular polity and were opposed to harming Hindus. But they were apparently overlooked by Pakistan and Jamat-i-Islami for whom the fundamentalist ideological disorientation of the Muslims of the Valley was of primary importance for their plans. From May 1990, the ISI changed the strategy wholesale, dumping the JKLF to the dust bin, for they were not swift to starting a campaign against secular minded leaders and members of Kashmiri Hindu minority in the Valley. From June onwards as the JKLF commanders fell in the hands of security forces, the ISI hastily changed the command structure of the terrorists, assigning the leading roles to the fanatic Hizbe Mujahideen, Al-Umar and Allah-Tigers, outfits who had been indoctrinated with blind hatred of kafir (lnfidel), mainly Kashmiri Hindus, and secular parties and individuals.

The Hizbe reign of terror was merciless, barbaric to the extreme. It was aimed at silencing secular minded and peace loving Muslims, many of whom were gunned down along with innocent Kashmiri Hindus. First to fall to terrorists guns was youthful Mir Mustafa a popular politician, who had always secular beliefs and was working for a compromise with an important segment of the terrorists, when the Hizbe militant kidnapped him and subsequently killed him in the most barbaric manner. Maulana Mohd Syed Masoodi, renowned Muslin scholar and a veteran freedom fighter, met a similar fate at the hands of the terrorists. Other prominent Muslim leaders and intellectuals killed included the well known Commulnist leader AhduI Sattar Ranjoor, Gulam Nabi Kullar, Bashir Ahmed Nengroo, Sheik Mashoor, and Mohmmad Shafi, all former legislators and prominent national conference/congress leaders who were among the thousands of silent citizens, opposed to the ways of terrorists. The ongoing barbarism claimed such innocent yet precious lives like Dr. Mushir UI-Hukh (Vice Chancellor, Kashmir University) Abdul Ghani, his P. A., and such Hindus as H. L. Khera, General Manager of H.M.T. factory, Sarvanand Kaul "Premi" a well known poet and B. K. Ganjoo Telecom Engineer, Lassa Koul, Director Doordarshan, Prem Nath Bhat an advocate, P. N. Handoo Assistant Director Information, J. N. Raina Joint Director Sariculture, A. K. Raina Deputy Director Food and Supplies, D. N. Chowdry Manager Cement Factory, Naven Sapru, Telephone Inspector, A. K. Safaya Branch Manager J&K Bank. One Kumari Girja, another Hindu, was raped and sliced to pieces on bandsaw. Sarla Bhat, Prana Ganjoo and Sumitra were shot dead by the terrorists in the most barbaric manner.

The Assassination of prominent leaders subscribing to secular ideals was a warning to the members of the Minority community, which is sought to be obliterated through a genocidal drive. The liquidation and the uprooting of this historic community from their ancestral homeland appears to be a vital link in the chain of steps. Pakistan and its armed mercenaries are taking in the State. Nearly two and a half lakh Kashmiri Hindus are on a forced exile, compelled to live in ghettos comprising of tattered tents and stinking community centers. More than 50,000 such families have been registered at Jammu and about 8,000 in Delhi. Not only that, more than 1,000 Kashmiri Hindus have been tortured to death by the fundamentalist terrorists. More than 4,300 houses of Kashmiri Hindus have been gutted and thousands of houses looted; educational institutions owned by the Hindus have been burnt, blasted or occupied and renamed.


Refugee camps in Jammu.

Pakistan rulers realize that as long as Kashmiri Hindus even though minuscule in size stay in Kashmir, their dream of full Islamisation of Kashmir will remain unrealized. And as long as the drive for Ismalisation does not remain the chief political and ideological objective, it would be difficult to mortgage the psyche of Kashmiri Muslims who continues to be suspicious about the designs of Pakistan. It is because of this that the Pakistan backed terrorists are ruthlessly executing their plans of liquidating innocent and defenseless Kashmiri Pandits with the barbarity that would put to shame the blackest deeds of Halaku or Changez. The incomplete figures of assassination of Kashmiris by the terrorists yield to a common pattern. The victims were often chosen with the objective of spreading greater terror. The men and women gunned down were either intellectuals or people well known for their public activities.

A Kashmir without Hindus whatever their numbers, would be a Theocracy ripe for the Fundamentalists to establish their command post for the future forays into very heart of India, Let it not lull our compatriots into complacence of any sort. The nation has already paid very heavily for one partition. Let there be no repetition. The Kashmiri Hindus, in particular have abiding faith in the secular foundations of the Indian Society and they firmly believe that not only their religion, culture and way of life but that of Kashmiri Muslims also is quite safe in India. The Fundamentalists, who wield the power of the gun, should not be allowed to dislodge the Kashmiri Hindus from their birth place. 

Kashmir History and Politics

 

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World Kashmiri Pandit Conference, 1993
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