By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, New Age Islam
09 June 2018
On a two-day visit to the state to review the security situation amid an ongoing Ramzan ceasefire, Home Minister Rajnath Singh asserted that the Centre will change the "face and fate" of Jammu and Kashmir.
In this context, it is important to argue why Rajnath Singh's visit to the valley will turn out a crucial step towards breaking the political logjam in Jammu and Kashmir. Considerably, this visit has assumed significance in the wake of the extension of ceasefire announced earlier by home minister during the ongoing month of Ramazan. The two-day visit to the J&K state was reportedly focused on conditional ceasefire announced by the Home Minister on May 16 for the holy month of Ramazan.
It is interesting to note that Rajnath Singh recently asserted that the government hasn’t tied the hands of the security forces. “It wasn’t a ceasefire, but suspension of operation in view of Ramzan”, Singh said according to a report published by Times Now. He refused to call it a ceasefire and chose to describe it as ‘suspension of operations’. The technical term for this is NICO – Non-Initiation of Combat Operations. Thus, it was clearly stated that operations will be resumed if any militant attacks are launched in the valley.
Now, the holy month’s end is around the corner. For Kashmir, this Ramazan was relatively more of a month for reconciliation, non-violence and ceasefire—a move taken by the Centre in the beginning of Ramazan. Though the extension or no extension in the ceasefire would depend on inputs Rajnath Singh will gather from security and Intelligence agencies on the situation post-ceasefire, such positive chances are welcome in the valley to mitigate the mayhem and decrease the chaos insurgency causes. While the Ramazan ceasefire has brought great relief to the beleaguered people of Jammu and Kashmir, militants and insurgents continue to unleash mindless violence, desperately trying to sabotage the peace process.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has optimistically tweeted that the militants will, soon, realise the “futility of their actions”, welcoming the reiteration of the commitment to the ceasefire on the border by both DGMO’s. “This brings great relief to the people residing in the vicinity. Peace on our borders is the first essential step to a larger understanding and I truly hope it sustains…” she remarked.
Of course, Centre’s announcement of a unilateral ceasefire during the ongoing Ramzan has given the Kashmiris in general and youths in particular an atmosphere to move ahead. Therefore, most peace-loving youths in the valley are strongly pleading for an extension of the truce. Mehbooba Mufti has rightly pointed out that “these children want to live, they want to play, and they want to smile...like elsewhere in the country”.
This has put Rajnath Singh’s visit to the valley in a renewed focus amid speculations that the centre may extend the Ramazan Ceasefire. But this truce has also left many Kashmiri intellectuals entangled with questions like these: Is Aazad (freedom) of Kashmir a call for violence? Why has Kashmir never been allowed to settle down and take a breather from violence? Those who objectively analyze and review the ongoings in the valley are now highly critical of the insurgent ideology of violence.
M.H.A Sikander, a young Kashmiri writer-activist based in Srinagar, has penned a moving scholarly article in which he asks: Is Violence the Only Way Out? He writes in New Age Islam: “Since last one decade gun culture has gained new currency as a tool of resistance in Kashmir....The vicious cycle of death and violence needs to be broken and fractured."
The Srinagar-based writer-activist offers a historical account of how violence in the valley has been romanticised with the flawed notion of Islamic state. He further writes: "The romanticism and tryst for the Islamic state is not new. In 1990s, most pro-Pakistan militant organizations declared their aim as establishment of Islamic state, once the accession with Pakistan is complete…..The discourse in Kashmir for establishing an Islamic state became vibrant once again with the rise of Pan Islamist insurgent movements like ISIS and Al Qaeda. This discourse is being represented by Ansar Ghazawatul Hind organization headed by Zakir Moosa."
The rise of the Ansar Ghazwat ul Hind confused even many of the militants to ponder whether Kashmir is fighting a territorial war or a religious war? The whole of the Kashmiri insurgency is now divided on this. Common Kashmiris are left with two options: support this maniac call for the self-styled 'Islamic state' or blame the forces for lying about the ceasefire call. We as a population are so confused about this struggle now that nobody knows who is running all this.
On the other hand, Pakistan is promoting leaders like SAS Geelani who loudly claims to achieve the goal of 'Azadi Baraa-e-Islam' (freedom for Islam). These religio-political leaders in Kashmir don't understand that Muslims since ages have lived and prospered with all communities and religions. But in the name of Islamic system of governance (Nizam-e-Mustafa), what Pakistan wants to achieve is extend its borders and influence on either side, be it creating Taliban or interfering in Kashmir. Inevitably, Pakistan's state-sponsored militants and propagandists of radical Islamic state on its borders are fuelling the fire of Islamophobia around the world.
Is this the Azadi that a section of Kashmiri Muslims seek to achieve through violence, guns and stones? Succumbing to the expansionist designs of a self-styled Islamic state that even today calls the migrants of 1947 as Muhajireen?
It is an utterly sorry state of affairs in the state where whosoever loudly claims to speak for Islam and has a gun or a stone in his hand is the ‘commander of the faithful’ (Ameer-ul-Mominin). The civil society needs to gear-up as the Kashmiri Muslims currently are completely unaware of what he is losing in all this ridiculously incomprehensive culture of gun and violence.
In the valley of today, reason has eroded a large section of the society and even emotions are biased towards something so abstract that even an emotional person would call this act as inhuman and anti-Kashmiriyat. The situation is that the loudmouthed, pseudo-religious and long-nurtured element of hate has grown deep into the gullible young minds.
Worst of all, the Pak-engineered hate and violence in the valley gives the Kashmiri society a tribal outlook showing that they are not fit to live democratically and deserve to be militarized to get civilized. This is not an allegation but a prediction that is getting proven to be true day after day. In the past thirty years, aspirations were never heard, roads were never paved.
But now that the long-cherished opportunity of peace and reconciliation in form of ceasefire has been opened up, something otherwise has to happen. It's about time the mainstream Kashmiri people focused on their lost heritage—Kashmiriyat—the greatest gift of Rishi-Sufi tradition in the mystics’ land. In fact, ultimately, Kashmir is too diverse, too multicultural a land to turn into a radical Islamist state. Thus, this visit of the Home Minister seems to go down well after a long and fierce political turmoil in the valley.
Regular columnist with New Age Islam, Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi is a scholar of classical Arabic and Islamic studies, cultural analyst and researcher in Media and Communication Studies.