18th April 2017
I do not agree – but can the lives of soldiers (and youth) be saved by posting the Kalima on security vehicles in Kashmir?
A commentator wrote to me that the army should not tie humans (a really bad idea) to its vehicles in Kashmir. Instead, it should post the Kalima (what is a Kalima? Here – and here). That will prevent the armed force vehicles from being attacked.
I do not agree whatsoever with this proposal, for it would amount to bringing religion to play in the affairs of government.
In my view, the government must always remain separate from religion. Moreover, there are huge risks of any such action being viewed negatively by the soldiers, potentially causing disaffection within the army. India’s soldiers are extraordinarily dedicated to the country’s preservation and from the day they join the armed forces, they respect each other’s religion. There is absolutely no scope to bring religious strategies into play into the Indian Army (or other security forces). On that I’m very clear and very firm.
However, I’m posting extracts from this rather provocative and extensive comment since the writer raises some vexed issues (many of which I disagree with) that should probably be at least put on the table.
So this is one blog post the premises of which I do not agree with but which I’m posting to allow a discussion to occur. I have requested the commentator (who wrote this) not to comment on this blog post. I want to hear only from others – and let there be a highly measured and considered discussion (if any).
Regarding the Kalima issue, it won’t solve the conflict. I never claimed that. But it MIGHT help save our security forces soldiers who are fighting the stone-pelting mobs, and also save the lives and eyes of THOUSANDS of Kashmiri youths.
No guarantee that it will work 100% of the time! But there’s certainly no harm in trying as part of India’s strategy!
The Kalima is an article of faith of Muslims which they revere. Just like a Hindu wouldn’t attack an idol of Shri Ram, a Muslim wouldn’t attack a kalima.
Now what does it mean for the army to use the kalima for self-defense (as ludicrous as it may sound)? Showing the kalima makes it appear that the army is showing RESPECT to Islam. That’s how it appears!
Kashmiri Muslims will think that the security forces are hiding behind Allah, but they won’t attack. They will look at the security forces with contempt.
Kashmiri Muslims see the army as a Hindu army waging war against Islam. Every friday in masjids at Downtown Srinagar, Budgam, Anantnag (Islamabad), etc, the maulvis give khutbahs (sermons) against Indian occupation and afterwards disgruntled youths hurl stones at the security forces.
They look at India as Hindu India, not secular India.
To these stone-pelters, throwing stones is the same as jihad. And often it’s worse! They even throw molotov cocktails. The only reason they have not takenup arms is because the border is pretty right and flow of arms have been restricted. Otherwise hundreds if not thousands more would have waged jihad.
Now regarding the Kashmir struggle (as of now they are boycotting elections in order to express their rejection of democracy), the movement has always been communal. It has always been about bringing about an Islamic state, not Indian injustice. They witness Indian rule as occupation by Hindus.
To them, the mujahideen are freedom fighters. They actively assist the militants by sheltering them and informing them of military movements. When the security forces cordon and attack holed-in militants, the ENTIRE VILLAGE comes out to attack the security forces by throwing stones. They know very well that the security forces won’t fire at them.
The whole valley revolted against India in 1990, because of religious fervour after the Afghan jihad and also Pakistan promised to support them and come to their aid after Kashmiri Muslims rose up against India. Thousands of youths went to the other side, took up arms, and returned to wreak havoc in Kashmir.
Popular slogans include:
“Bharat ka dastur Na manzoor na manzoor.”
“Pakistan se rishta kya? La illaha il allah.”
“Yaha kya chalega? Nizam-e-Mustafa.”
“Shaheed ki joh mau hain, woh qaum ki hayat hain. Shaheed ki lahu hain jo, woh qaum ka zakaat hain.”
“La sharqiya. La gharbiya. Islamiya Islamiya.”
“Zalzala aaya hain kufr ke maidaan main. Lo mujahid aa gaye maidaan main.”
“Ae zaalimo ae kafiro, Kashmir hamara chod do.”
I can go on and on.
This movement has always been religious. Kashmiri Muslims may not be Al Qaeda, but they have always wanted an independent Islamic state. If you meet 10 Kashmiri Muslims, probably 8 support Azadi.
Kashmiris love and support Pakistan, because of religion. Even the police support Pakistani cricket team.
There is high unemployment among the youth.
In fact, many of the militants who are now fighting India are former PDP workers. Back in 1990, many of the militants fighting India were former National Conference workers and Muslim Muttahida Mahaz workers. Hizbul Mujahideen supremo Sayeed Salahuddin was an MLA candidate from Amirakadal in Srinagar.
The vast overwhelming majority of Kashmiri Muslims will always want separation, because they want a state governed according to Sharia (Allah’s laws).
Yes there are a few sensible people who think India’s a better choice, but these are the MINORITY who are SECULAR and OPPOSE Islamic state. Maybe 18% at most! They don’t want Kashmir to become a hotbed of Taliban and militants attacking India. The most vocal anti-Azadi supporters are mostly living outside of Kashmir, because they are not safe there.
Regarding the solution to the Kashmir issue, the cause is IDEOLOGICAL and thus the solution is ideological. Kalhana said that the people of Kashmir can only be won over by spirituality, not by the means of force.
This is a war between secularism and Political Islam. Unless and until the general mindset changes, Kashmir will keep simmering and Kashmiri Muslims will keep fighting India.
Secularization will take many generations. It is possible, just like how Turkey secularized under Kemalists. But it’s not realistic to believe that it will change when governance is reformed and the economy is liberated.
Until that change happens and as long as Pakistan exists to provide them support, Kashmiri Muslims will keep fighting us.
Kashmir is a very backward society. They have medieval minds but are living in the modern age. Their women mostly don’t work, and marry early. All of the cinemas were shut down by Islamic militants in 1990, and have not been opened since.
I had an atheist friend living in Srinagar. And she tells me that it’s hell. She says that Indians are way more liberal. She says that Kashmiris are nosy and busy being bigots. She was happy to move to Delhi. She says that at least in Delhi, she can take a walk alone in the park. She can’t do so in Kashmir without people asking her why she’s not wearing a hijab, or why she isn’t with her husband. It’s that bad.
The only good thing about Kashmir is its climate and low crime rate. You can walk the streets late at night without fear of being mugged or attacked.