Mass up­surge in Kash­mir is ex­tremely re­gres­sive in na­ture

Ter­ror­ist op­er­a­tions and street mo­bil­i­sa­tion have been fully un­der the com­mand of LET and Ahl-i-ha­dith.

The Sunday Guardian - - & COMMENT ANALYSIS - AJAY CHRUNGOO

The present regime in New Delhi has made two wel­come policy de­par­tures vis-a-vis Pak­istan and the sep­a­ratist move­ment in Jammu and Kash­mir. One has been that it has clearly de­lin­eated that di­a­logue and ter­ror can­not go to­gether. The other mea­sure has been not to show any ea­ger­ness to talk to the sep­a­ratist es­tab­lish­ment in the state and reg­u­larly un­der­lin­ing that in­ter­nal di­a­logue will take place only within the frame­work of the Con­sti­tu­tion of India. These two de­par­tures have caused max­i­mum dis­com­fi­ture to both Pak­istan and the sep­a­ratist es­tab­lish­ment in J&K. The con­cept of “un­in­ter­rupted and un­in­ter­rupt­ible di­a­logue”, which un­der­lined the peace process with Pak­istan dur­ing the pre­vi­ous rul­ing regimes in New Delhi, was es­sen­tially sub­ver­sive in con­tent and served Pak­istan’s in­ter­ests in more than one way. How­ever, Pak­istan has been by and large suc­cess­ful in un­leash­ing a new wave of Pan-is­lamism on the ground in J&K. It has suc­ceeded in in­tro­duc­ing Caliphate con­scious­ness and Apostasy pun­ish­ment into sep­a­ratist thought and ac­tion in J&K.

The cam­paign of “fun­da­men­tal­i­sa­tion” of the Kash­miri Mus­lim so­cial mi­lieu, which Pak­istan has un­leashed, seeks to widen the role of lo­cal sons of the soil (Ibn-ul-balad) in its ter­ror op­er­a­tions on the ground. This cam­paign of “fun­da­men­tal­i­sa­tion” ac­tively in­tro­duces the creation of the Caliphate as the over­ar­ch­ing goal for Mus­lims and the con­cept of “tak­feer” into the ide­o­log­i­cal lex­i­con of the new foot sol­diers of ji­had. Tak­feer de­clares all Mus­lim in­di­vid­u­als, or­gan­i­sa­tions and in­sti­tu­tions of Mus­lim so­ci­eties and state ap­pa­ra­tuses of Mus­lim coun­tries who have en­tered into tac­ti­cal, strate­gic or eco­nomic relationship with any sec­u­lar idea, sys­tem or state as ex­pres­sions of apostasy to be treated as le­git­i­mate tar­gets of ji­hadi war.

Saleem Shahzad, one of Pak­istan’s best in­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ists on the dy­nam­ics of ji­hadi move­ments there, was as­sas­si­nated in 2011. He de­scribed tak­feer as the “best way” to un­leash the strat­egy “that would sep­a­rate the newly propped-up Is­lamic fac­tions from the state­craft…” Launch­ing ji­had against Pak­istan be­came an im­per­a­tive ne­ces­sity for the Is­lamists after the Pak­istani army moved against the Tal­iban in Azam Warsak in June 2002. Un­til then they were very com­fort­able with the Pak­istani role of playing host, fa­cil­i­ta­tor and pro­moter of Pan-is­lamic mil­i­tari­sa­tion.

Tak­feer was de­ployed by Al Qaeda and other pan-is­lamist ter­ror­ist regimes to dis­rupt the joint US-PAK anti-ter­ror op­er­a­tions against the Tal­iban and other pan-is­lamists. More sig­nif­i­cant de­vel­op­ment than this was Pak­istan’s ea­ger­ness to de­ploy the same tak­feeri ter­ror­ism in J&K. It was done to di­vert the new breed of ji­hadi foot sol­diers to­wards J&K and of­fer them a more en­tic­ing fo­cus than the state of Pak­istan. In­su­lat­ing the sep­a­ratist move­ment in J&K from the pulls of power pol­i­tics had also be­come an im­per­a­tive ne­ces­sity for Pak­istan.

PAN-IS­LAMISM IN J&K

Pan-is­lamism, pre­dom­i­nantly of the Wah­habi type, er­ro­neously called rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion in India, has not de­scended into J&K from nowhere and all of a sud­den. It is also not a new idea for the fun­da­men­tal­ist regimes op­er­at­ing on the ground. Ahl-i-ha­dith is one of the old­est pan-is­lamist or­gan­i­sa­tions, well spread out in so­ci­ety through a net­work of mosques, sem­i­nar­ies and schools in Kash­mir. Ja­mat-i-is­lami, which came to the fore a lit­tle later, has also been pan-is­lamist in ap­proach. Both or­gan­i­sa­tions, Ahl-i-ha­dith and Ja­mat, have been al­ways in com­pe­ti­tion with each other to be bet­ter ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the sup­port and pa­tron­age of the state of Pak­istan and many Arab regimes pro­mot­ing Wah­habism glob­ally. Pak­istan didn’t have to search for in­sti­tu­tions on the ground or cre­ate new ones to pro­mote Pan Is­lamism and yet be within the con­trol­ling mech­a­nisms of Pak­istan to serve its in­ter­ests in J&K. Presently, Ahl-i-ha­dith has been the favourite of the ISI more than Ja­mat-i-is­lami, which has been rel­e­gated to a lower level of pa­tron­age.

The con­cept of Caliphate and the threat of apostasy sought to serve the pur­pose of keep­ing the sep­a­ratist regimes in J&K un­stuck and in­su­lated from the pulls of power pol­i­tics de­ployed by the In­dian gov­ern­ment.

LET, AHL AT THE HELM

In­dian pol­i­cy­mak­ers missed the de­vel­op­ments sur­round­ing the en­try into J&K of panis­lamic doc­trines re­volv­ing around the creation of an Is­lamic Caliphate. They wish­fully hoped that the creation of a neo-tal­iban in Pak­istan would be a Pak­istan-spe­cific phe­nom­e­non. They had already missed, or taken lightly, the hand­ing over by ISI to Lashkar-e-tayyaba the ter­ror­ist op­er­a­tions in J&K.

Arif Ja­mal, a US based jour­nal­ist and con­tribut­ing writer to the New York Times writes that the ISI, as early as 2002, had asked ji­hadi groups to send their un­mar­ried men to Pak­istan Oc­cu­pied Kash­mir and set­tle there. He notes that “the bulk of those who moved were JUD mil­i­tants”. JUD is the mother or­gan­i­sa­tion of the LET and is it­self the child of the Salafi Is­lamic move­ment Ahl-i-ha­dith. The state­ment of Hafiz Saeed in Out­look as far back as in 2001 that “our strug­gle will con­tinue even if Kash­mir is lib­er­ated…the lib­er­a­tion of Kash­mir will not end our re­solve”, was not only an ide­o­log­i­cal ex­pres­sion, but also re­flected a con­fi­dence re­sult­ing from the re­al­i­sa­tion that LET had man­aged to get deeply en­trenched in Kash­mir for the long haul. The deep­en­ing of the en­trench­ment had hap­pened in a per­mis­sive at­mos­phere of a demo­cratic order in a state driven by the pol­i­tics of half-way sep­a­ratism.

The re­lent­less ter­ror­ist cam­paign in Kash­mir, pre­dom­i­nantly through sons of the soil (Ib­nul Balad) hap­pened be­cause of an ever en­larg­ing in­fra­struc­ture of Is­lamist in­doc­tri­na­tion and pro­pa­ganda per­mit­ted and pro­moted will­ingly by the main­stream po­lit­i­cal par­ties op­er­at­ing in the state. In 2014, gen­eral sec­re­tary of Jamiat Ahl-i-ha­dith said in an in­ter­view, “A decade back we had 150 mosques and 30 schools. The to­tal num­ber of membership of the or­gan­i­sa­tion was 2,000-3,000. Today we man­age 700 mosques and 150 schools and membership has gone to 1,500,000.” The for­mer DG of the state po­lice, M.M. Kha­juria had then com­mented on such a re­veal­ing procla­ma­tion: “The Wah­habi/salafi cult that they preach is the ide­o­log­i­cal bedrock of pan-is­lamist ter­ror­ism… Their reach, sources sug­gest, ex­tend to the state ap­pa­ra­tus through con­ver­sion of of­fi­cials, not ex­clud­ing those oc­cu­py­ing high po­si­tions. This should be a mat­ter of con­cern.”

The new “fun­da­men­tal­i­sa­tion” tar­geted the lo­cal youth. It also sought to un­der­mine the lead­er­ship of both the main­stream and se­ces­sion­ist out­fits. It in­cul­cated in­sub­or­di­na­tion amongst the youth against the es­tab­lished po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship, both in the main­stream and in the se­ces­sion­ist out­fits, and suc­ceeded in putting the blame of the fail­ure of the sep­a­ratist move­ment in J&K squarely at their feet. Through a sus­tained process of defama­tion, in­tim­i­da­tion and phys­i­cal ret­ri­bu­tion, Pak­istan man­aged to har­ness var­i­ous vari­ants of sep­a­ratism and Is­lamic fun­da­men­tal­ism in J&K, to pro­mote its tac­ti­cal and strate­gic ma­noeu­vres. Half­way sep­a­ratism rep­re­sented by greater au­ton­omy and self-rule pol­i­tics, frank se­ces­sion­ism of merger with Pak­istan or in­de­pen­dence and pan-is­lamism of Ahl-iha­dith and Ja­mat-i-is­lami have been forced into a state of in­ter­de­pen­dence, bereft of any le­git­i­macy and au­ton­omy of their own. The es­tab­lished lead­er­ship has been rel­e­gated to be merely a civil po­lit­i­cal mask for the re­li­gious fas­cist move­ment.

Com­pet­i­tive se­ces­sion­ism and com­mu­nal­ism have already re­duced the main­stream National Con­fer­ence and Peo­ple’s Demo­cratic Party to be mere ap­pendages of the sep­a­ratist es­tab­lish­ment, do­ing their bid­ding and com­pet­ing for Pak­istan’s en­dorse­ment. The main lead­er­ship of the sep­a­ratist es­tab­lish­ment has also been re­duced to a state of to­tal sub­servience, stripped of any au­ton­omy to take de­ci­sions. No less a per­son than Syed Ali Shah Gee­lani was forced to write a let­ter to Syed Salahud­din, the chair­man of the United Ji­had Council, which was re­leased to the press as well, ask­ing him whether the de­struc­tion of com­mu­ni­ca­tion tow­ers at var­i­ous places in Kash­mir was be­ing done un­der his in­struc­tions. He per­haps wanted to give the first for­mal ex­pres­sion that the sep­a­ratist op­er­a­tions on the ground were be­ing con­ducted by a com­mand struc­ture from which he had been ex­cluded.

Ter­ror­ist op­er­a­tions and street mo­bil­i­sa­tion on the ground in J&K have been fully un­der the com­mand of LET and its mother or­gan­i­sa­tion, Ahl-i-ha­dith. The sep­a­ratist lead­er­ship, called Joint Re­sis­tance Lead­er­ship (JRL), has only to own the in­struc­tions and di­rec­tives issued by LET chief Hafiz Saeed from Pak­istan.

GROUND RE­AL­ITY

The present sit­u­a­tion in Kash­mir is best de­picted by the re­portage of the pro-sep­a­ratist pa­per Greater Kash­mir on the re­cent killing of six ter­ror­ists be­long­ing to the Zakir Musa group. “A year after he es­tab­lished Al-qaeda af­fil­i­ated An­sar Ghazwat-ul-hind, the chief of the mil­i­tant out­fit Zakir Musa suf­fered a ma­jor set­back on Satur­day when he lost six out of his to­tal nine com­rades, in­clud­ing the deputy chief, in a gun­fight in south­ern Tral area…thou­sands joined the fu­ner­als… Ten rounds of fu­neral prayers held for the slain mil­i­tants…” Pan-is­lamist ter­ror out­fits in­clud­ing those as­so­ci­ated or af­fil­i­ated with Al Qaeda or ISIS are op­er­at­ing freely in Kash­mir and they en­joy a huge fol­low­ing. Stat­ing this fact is not de­mon­is­ing J&K, but fac­ing the re­al­ity that the mass up­surge in Kash­mir is an ex­tremely re­gres­sive move­ment, which seeks to es­tab­lish a to­tal­i­tar­ian re­li­gious order. The killing of lo­cal po­lice per­son­nel, po­lit­i­cal work­ers, civil­ians in grue­some ways is an op­er­a­tion to de­stroy all dis­sent and make ev­ery­body con­form to Is­lamist dik­tat.

We are not wit­ness­ing the dis­rup­tion of peace­ful mass protests by the se­cu­rity forces, but in­stead di­rect sedi­tious and fas­cist mob at­tacks on se­cu­rity pick­ets and per­son­nel. Kash­mir has wit­nessed the high­est num­ber of mob at­tacks on se­cu­rity forces in India, ever since stone pelt­ing sedi­tious mo­bil­i­sa­tion started com­ple­ment­ing ter­ror­ist op­er­a­tions. At the peak of mob vi­o­lence, out of around 6,000 in­juries, the share of po­lice­men/se­cu­rity force per­son­nel ex­ceeded 3,000. The level of re­straint shown by the se­cu­rity forces can be gauged from this re­al­ity. No se­cu­rity es­tab­lish­ment any­where in the world can demon­strate so much re­straint in an at­mos­phere where they are be­ing at­tacked di­rectly. In J&K, the se­cu­rity forces are op­er­at­ing in an at­mos­phere of in­ter­nal sub­ver­sion and a large seg­ment of the po­lit­i­cal class is ever ea­ger to in­dict them, the very po­lit­i­cal class whose po­lit­i­cal free­dom they have been en­sur­ing.

The char­ac­ter of mass protests par­tic­u­larly in Kash­mir has to be recog­nised. Lead­ing psy­cho­an­a­lysts who have done stud­ies on fi­day­een/ sui­cide ter­ror­ism de­scribe fi­day­een sui­cides as con­joint sui­cide mur­ders. Mo­ti­vat­ing or co­erc­ing peo­ple to dis­rupt se­cu­rity op­er­a­tions against the ter­ror­ists are ac­tu­ally mass con­joint-sui­cide-mur­der op­er­a­tions. These also act as train­ing grounds for fi­day­een re­cruit­ment. Send­ing youths with stones to bat­tle zones helps in cre­at­ing a fi­day­een psy­chol­ogy. Such op­er­a­tions will soon be a global threat and need to be dele­git­imised through all means.

A large num­ber of ter­ror­ists were killed in Kash­mir last year de­spite the use of civil­ian shields to pro­tect them. This is an achieve­ment by it­self. But we don’t have to for­get that the se­cu­rity forces have suf­fered the high­est num­ber of ca­su­al­ties in a decade, last year in J&K. We have come face to face with a re­li­gious fas­cist up­surge. In­doc­tri­na­tion and pro­pa­ganda are its arms, big­ger and more ef­fec­tive than the ter­ror­ist arm. In­doc­tri­na­tion and pro­pa­ganda can be de­feated by be­ing ahead in the in­for­ma­tion war and through ac­tive con­tes­ta­tion. Is Kash­mir be­ing demonised in rest of India or the stark re­al­ity on the ground is such that this can no longer be hid­den? The grim re­al­ity is that a re­lent­less cam­paign de­mon­is­ing India is tak­ing place in J&K on a daily ba­sis. India is be­ing de­scribed as an im­pe­ri­al­ist oc­cu­pier and In­dian se­cu­rity forces as oc­cu­pa­tion forces. We can­not let re­li­gious fas­cists and their col­lab­o­ra­tors take con­trol of the nar­ra­tive. Dr Ajay Chrungoo is the chair­man of Pa­nun Kash­mir and an an­a­lyst on J&K af­fairs.

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