Kashmir has been and continues to be a battleground for the establishment of an Islamic Kashmir.
This battle is led by two powerful organisations that have been working for years in Kashmir. One is the Jamaat-e-Islami. The other is the Ahle Hadith.
At the onset it appears that the objective of organisations – Jamaat-e-Islami and Ahle Hadith is one of dissemination of religious schooling and looking after the social welfare of the Islamic community in Kashmir.
That however is only the outer facade not the real intent. Their real intent is an Islamic Kashmir.
While the world trains its focus on the conflict in Kashmir between India and Pakistan, Islamic radicalism has been growing at an alarming rate in Kashmir.
The plan of an Islamic Kashmir is being spearheaded by Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran. Each nation, to suit its own Islamic agenda.
This a a battle of Islamic supremacy in the Kashmir region is primarily between Shias and Sunnis.
Jamaat-E-Islami tentacles in Kashmir
Data on militants killed and interrogated in Kashmir reveal that most militants were followers of Jamaat-e-Islami.
The Indian government had banned Jamaat-E-Islami under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs after a high-level meeting on security, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier this year.
The notification issued stated that the Centre is of the opinion that the Jamaat is “in close touch with militant outfits” and is supporting extremism and militancy in Jammu and Kashmir and elsewhere.
The notification also said Jamaat has been indulging in activities intended to disrupt the territorial integrity of India.
The Jamaat-e-Islami was founded in the early 1940s by an Islamic theologian and philosopher Syed Abul ‘Ala Maududi, who believed that Islam serves as a code of life to govern all aspects of the individual and collective existence of Muslims.
The Jamaat, as envisioned by Maududi, seeks to establish an Islamic state governed by the law of God, and argue against a political order founded on democracy and secularism.
After Partition, Maududi settled in Pakistan and the Jama’at split into two—the Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan and the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind.
In 1952, a distinct branch was officially set up in Kashmir, separated from the Indian branch, known as the Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir.
The uncertain political machinations in Kashmir over the years and the non-effective policies of the Indian government at the Centre and its counterparts at the state made way for Jamaat-e-Islami to incorporate its Islamic ideology into the education curriculum of the people of Kashmir by setting up schools.
It opened the door to a new socio-religious thinking for the people of Kashmir.
Take for example the view of a militant I met on my recent visit to Kashmir from South Kashmir. He was arrested for carrying four AK-47 guns by the J&K police. He was jailed for over four-years and then released on bail. He is continuously under the watchful eye of the Army Intelligence and Intelligence Bureau.
“The people of Kashmir are Muslims and we are followers of Islam. Jamaat-e-Islami has ensured Islam has been saved in Kashmir otherwise the Indian government would have converted us Muslims to Hindus. That is the reason they banned Jamaat-e-Islami to unleash atrocities on us and now they have abrogated Article 370 to take over our land. We will not sell our lands to Indians. We will fight against this injustice. Kashmir must be an independent Islamic State. Kashmiri people share a relationship with Pakistan because it is an Islamic nation. It is our duty to protect Islam and we will get protection from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.”
Ahle-Hadith tentacles in Kashmir
Kashmiri youth feel that Ahle-Hadith (Jamiat Ahle Hadees) gives them an empowering Islamic identity in a conflict environment.
Post the abrogation of Article 370, three months ago, Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadees gave its support to Modi government on abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir and rolling out NRC across the country. The organisation believed that the scrapping of Article 370 has been done in the interest of the people of Kashmir.
But while the Jamiat Ahle Hadees appears to be supporting the government decision, this could be certain kind of posturing.
Reportedly on ground in Kashmir, IB and Army Intelligence sources have revealed to IndianExpose.com that the clerics in the mosques owned by Jamait Ahle Hadees are known to be preaching about hate and succession in over 700 plus mosques across immediately.
“Like Jamaat-e-Islami, Jamait Ahle Hadees might not appear to be radical in action as it is cleverly shadowed by its religious exterior. However, it is more radical than JeI. Their ideology is a deep effort to establish an Islamic Kashmir. It has many educated and successful businessmen in their organisation,” expressed a Major of the Army Intelligence who has been tracking some Ahle Hadees members.
When IndianExpose spoke to the relative of one of the founding members of the Jamiat Ahle Hadees in Kashmir who is also a member, on the abrogation of Article 370, he expressed,”The Indian government has not taken the people of Kashmir into confidence. It is a good move in the interest of the people but people of Kashmir should have been taken into confidence. Such actions, betray the trust of the people of Kashmir. Look around there is no normalcy in Kashmir. There is no business. There is no communication lines. Indian government is driving the youth of Kashmir towards violence. We do not propagate violence but what will frustrated youth do.”
The Shia – Iran Connect
Iran is targeting the 1.4 million Shia Muslims who make up 15 percent of the entire population of Kashmir.
Iran’s support for the Kashmiri separatist struggle has come at a time when Sunni extremist organizations have spread their tentacles far and wide in Kashmir.
When IndianExpose.com spoke to Abhinav Pandya, a political analyst, specialising in counter-terrorism and researching on Wahhabi radicalisation in India, he expressed the following, “In May 1990, his successor Ayatollah Khamenei observed that the Kashmir conflict is about “truth and justice” and the (Indian) oppressors “have an unjust cause.” In 1994, Khamenei categorically stated that Kashmiris were facing tyranny and oppression at the hands of Indian forces, and their cause was one of justice and humanity.
As recently as last February, when discussing with foreign officials the problems faced by Muslims globally, Iran’s supreme leader included Kashmir with other conflict-ridden states like Afghanistan, Palestine, Bahrain, and Yemen, much to the chagrin of Indian authorities.”
He revealed an important fact, which was a part of his recent study article on the International online publication – Haaertz that though Iran has voted against India on the issue of Kashmir issue several times in sessions of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, this was the first time Iran gave a distinctly religious coloring to the Kashmir insurgency, something which the local separatist leaders have so far refrained from doing.
When Burhan Wani, the poster boy of militancy in Kashmir, was killed in an encounter with security forces in 2016, The Al Mustapha University in Mashad, Iran commemorated the anniversary of his death.
We must note that the Shia radicalisation is mostly ideological. It focuses on strengthening the Muslims of Kashmir through forging strong bonds with the intellectuals and supporters of Shia ideology in the Middle East.
It is important to recognise that the Kashmiri youth belonging to the Shia community are being slowly pushed towards separatism and militancy. This is because the elite Shia community that found favour with the Indian government did very little to uplift the socio-economic conditions of those in the community that were less fortunate.
A businessman and a strong believer from the Shia community in Srinagar, opined, “At this point of time aligning with the separatist helps us protect our lives, religious freedom and cultural identity. We are fighting an aggressive Sunni community in Kashmir that gets support from a Sunni neighbour Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. “
The Sunni – Saudi Connect
The reason for the growth of Salafism and Wahabism in Kashmir is the disenchantment of the youth with Sufism practiced by their fathers and forefathers.
With Kashmir, over the years, becoming a hotbed of militancy and violence in the region due to political machinations, many of the educated youth of Kashmir were convinced that the actions of Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-E-Mohammed offered a solution to their identity and regional crisis.
They felt that Sufism portrayed Kashmiris as meek, timid and not aggressive, therefore, the drift towards radical Islam.
Today Sufism is being replaced by Salafism and Wahabism in the valley.
The propagator of Salafism and Wahabism in India is Saudi Arabia.
In Kashmir, over the years, you would have noticed mushrooming of Madrasas espousing Wahabi ideology, easy availability of Wahabi literature, construction of new modern well equipped Wahabi mosques and the lure of free higher studies in Saudi theological universities.
Saudi through its non-government organisations have reportedly invested vast amounts in Kashmir to spread Salafism and Wahabism. Reportedly, 1.6 million Kashmiri Muslims follow these radical strains of Islam originating, promoted and propagated out of Saudi Arabia.
The Intelligence Bureau reports that India saw a record number of 25,000 Wahabi-influenced people arrive in India between 2011 and 2013, conducting seminars across the country.
“With them they brought in USD 250 million (INR1.1 billion) in several installments and used it to propagate the Wahabi style of Islam,” the reports noted.
Reports further claim a sum of USD 460 million (INR 3 billion) has been earmarked to set up madrasas (religious schools) while the remaining USD 300 million (INR 2 billion) has been set aside as miscellaneous costs, including alleged bribes to mosque authorities.
“Over the decades the Saudis have used Zakat money to build new mosques and seminaries in India that have radicalized younger Muslims and put them on an ultra-conservative path,” stated the IB report.
“India’s response has been modulated by the changing geopolitical realities of the Middle East, and its overriding need to sustain good relations with Saudi Arabia,” expressed Abhinav Pandya.
The Turkey – Kashmir Connect
Turkey is a majority-Sunni Muslim country. Turkey considers Islam instrumental in achieving consensus among its diverse ethnic groups.
Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan has good reason to invest in Indian Muslims. Support from the world third largest Muslim population would be a welcome boost to Erdogan’s claim to be the modern-day leader of the Muslim world.
“The links between Erdogan’s Islamist coterie and Indian clerics are long-standing but also deepening: a number of controversial Turkish Islamist clerics are regular visitors to India; one of them, Sardar Demirel, who was educated in Pakistan, visited Kolkata in 2016 to participate in a protest march against PM Modi’s Uniform Civil Code.” Expressed Abhinav Pandya.
Turkey is the only Islamic nation after Pakistan and Malaysia that had “unequivocally supported” self-determination of Kashmir and questioned the abrogation of Article 370.