There have been numerous debates, articles, editorials, facebook posts, tweets, youtube videos and what not on this subject. This just 12.55 million populated (very less compared to the rest of India) state has been constantly in news for all the wrong reasons. Well, actually 55 percent of that population because the remaining 45 resides in Jammu and Ladakh region which are quite peaceful. Kashmir has 95 percent Muslim population, Ladakh 45 and Jammu around 33. This post is mainly focused on Kashmir (a part of Kashmir, explained later), though the special status of the state is equally applicable to Ladakh and Jammu.
Historically during the British era, Kashmir was a secular province and aligned with Indian National Congress from the 1930s even though it was a Muslim majority region. Just after 2 months of independence, Pakistan backed terrorists and rebellious groups to attack the state. In Pakistan’s opinion, Kashmir should have joined Pakistan since it was a Muslim majority region. The then king, Maharaja Hari Singh asked Indian government for help. In return for the armed support to the state, he signed the Instrument of Accession, which legally under the Independence of India Act 1947 made Jammu and Kashmir part of the Dominion of India.
However, after a war, ceasefire and more wars and Simla agreement, we reached to its current state where we have LoC (Line of Control). Legally speaking, PoK and Aksai Chin are still part of India.
There is no hiding fact that Pakistan has made its birthright to make claims on Kashmir and spend a huge amount of resources to back militants and separatists in the valley. They even have lost three wars in the process.
What has been India’s stand?
On borders, we as always have been kicking ass. Pakistan is so used to losing to India now (at border or cricket). Kashmir is an important and integrated part of our nation. Defending and protecting borders should be India’s first priority and Indian army has been successfully doing it for decades.
So, at borders: Pakistan attacks, send terrorists, and Indian Army kicks their ass. As simple as that.
Now coming to the internal affairs of the valley. The editorials and news debates make it sound extremely complex. Some of the self-proclaimed intellectuals question Human rights and talk about the plight of Kashmiris. And India at times seems struggling to win the hearts of Kashmiris. The reality, however, is, only the white portion shown in the map below is troubling India in terms of separatist activities and clashes with the civilians.
So, what is it in this region that makes it troublesome and a bottleneck for peace, development and progress in the whole valley?
I will cut the chase and come straight to the points which are so simply visible yet everybody chooses to ignore it. So, here is one of the actual root cause of the Kashmir problem.
Now, I know many of you will jump in, start defending it, saying there are many versions, many interpretations of Islam and most of the Muslims are peaceful. I may even hurt some religious sentiments in this argument. But I am not attacking Islamic core ideologies. I am attacking its socio-political structure and all the subsequent evils that come with it.
Here are some opinions on Islam by two of the world’s renowned thinkers and political experts. Take your 10-15 minutes and listen to their views.
- Richard Dawkins on Islam: “Islam Is One Of The Great Evils In The World”.
- Cristopher Hitchens on Islam: Don’t waste my time with Islam.
- Cristopher Hitchens on Pakistan: Pakistan isn’t even a country. This one is my favourite, and most relevant to this post.
Now coming back to Kashmir valley (excluding Jammu and Ladakh), it has over 95 percent Muslim population.
Do all the Muslims want freedom and are fanatic separatists inspired by Islam? No.
Am I blaming Muslims for creating unrest in the valley and driving Kashmiri Pandits, Sikhs, Shias, and other minorities out of the valley? No.
But I am blaming Islam’s socio-political structure and subsequently radicalised Muslims of the state. Kashmir problem is an example of one of the many problems caused by this Islamic structure in the world. Middle-east, ISIS, Taliban, etc. No, I didn’t compare Kashmiris to Taliban but I am saying, at the root, the reason why Muslims are so easily radicalised is because of the faulty structure of Islam. The madrasas, mosques fully control the Muslims, their beliefs and their actions. Once, these religious institutions are corrupted, it’s quite easy to encourage Muslims to use violence for Shariah and eliminating non-Muslims and even Muslims who resist and oppose their beliefs.
The Islamic aspect of Kashmir problem
Some of the Kashmir’s mosques and madrasas are heavily influenced by Pakistan and separatists. They believe in a separate Islamic state as the valley has a Muslim majority. In the white region of the map, they have successfully radicalised enough Muslims to make it the valley of violence.
Kashmir mosque loudspeakers incite youth to join ‘anti-India jihad’
Other reasons like its closeness to borders, constant clashes of Army with terrorists, anti-Army violent protests and propaganda, AFSA helps in this whole radicalisation process. This has transformed valley from its secular stance in the past to an Islamic stance in the present. Islam in it’s radicalised form resists co-existing with a democratic state.
The other regions of Kashmir valley aren’t yet radicalised even though they have a Muslim majority.
Religions have been a source of evils in the past. Catholic fascism, Jews holocaust, sati in Hinduism, etc. But with time, wisdom, questioning established norms, these evils have been at large, successfully defeated. Something similar is needed from Muslim scholars and thinkers. No one from outside can bring reforms in Islam, at least not in its current state. Islam needs to evolve, prevent it’s children and youth from getting radicalised, give equal rights to women, and most importantly, it needs to open itself to criticism and changes from within and even from non-believers. Then only, Muslim society as a whole can become more progressive and can contribute a lot more to the world in a positive way. Too many Muslim lives are wasted in Jihad, violent protests, and unnecessary hatred against non-Muslims. What if someone amongst them is capable of being the next Abdul Kalam, A R Rehman, Ustad Bismillah Khan?
*Map credits: Balaji Viswanathan