Stone-pelting: Debating point

7 April 2009
The Hindustan Times
Rashid Ahmad

Srinagar: There's a debate raging in the separatist camp in Kashmir over the religious propriety of throwing stones (at government forces) as an expression of protest. Since the Omar Abdullah government in Jammu and Kashmir ordered an inquiry into the killing of a stone-throwing demonstrator in old Srinagar on March 6, the separatists are debating the issue. The debate was sparked by Srinagar senior superintendent of police (SSP) Afhadul Mujtaba, who has sought the support of religious leaders to put an end to what has now become a regular feature of life in Srinagar. Quoting a hadees (saying) of Prophet Mohammad, the SSP said stone pelting is un-Islamic. Kashmir's Grand Mufti Moulana Bashiruddin shared the view and issued a fatwa (decree) against stone-throwing, saying: It is against the spirit of the teachings of our Prophet. He has prohibited the practice. Jamiat-e-Ahl-e-Hadees chief Moulvi Shoukat Ahmad Shah, a separatist, supported the fatwa. Referring to the sayings of Prophet Mohammad, he said: It is an un-Islamic practice and no individual or group should indulge in it. Moulvi Shoukat's assertions sparked angry condemnation from Syed Ali Geelani, chairman of the hardline faction of the Hurriyat Conference. Massive presence of troops is the provocation for stone-throwing. There is no match between a stone and a gun. A stone doesn't take a life, Geelani said. On March 29 dozens of religious leaders, lawyers and separatists met at a local hotel to deliberate on the fatwa. They defended stone-pelting as a means of protest. Some speakers even described stone-throwers as Islamic commandos.