May 2017 News

Hurriyat Fears Religion May Overrun Struggle As Militants Seek Islamic Caliphate

9 May 2017
Sameer Yasir

Srinagar: Invoking Islam to lend moral legitimacy to the armed insurgency against New Delhi used to be the forte of Kashmir's separatist leaders over the last three decades. But two recent developments are indicating that the outdated narratives of religiosity to defend the political upheaval in the Valley may be changing for good. A day after Zakir Musa, who took over the reins of Hizbul Mujahideen from Burhan Wani, called for establishing Islamic caliphate in Kashmir, stating that militants were not fighting for 'freedom', the unified Hurriyat Conference, in a strong, indirect rebuttal, said those fighting for the imposition of Islamic rule have nothing to do with the 'freedom movement'. A statement by the top Hurriyat trio led by Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik said 'terror organisations' like Islamic State and Al Qaeda have nothing to do with the 'movement' in Kashmir, and they are practically nonexistent in the Valley. The leaders said the ongoing 'freedom struggle' is indigenous and 'terrorism' and 'freedom movement' are poles apart. The Hurriyat's statement is significant as the militant organisations fighting in Kashmir have been off late calling for imposing Islamic rule in the Valley. 'Our movement has nothing to do with these world level groups and practically they are nonexistent in the state. There is no role for these groups in our movement,' a statement issued by the group on Monday said. The leaders said Indian agencies are 'desperate to malign our movement' and under a well thought out plan are drawing their policies to bring a bad name to the ongoing freedom struggle in Kashmir. 'Delhi and its authorities are frustrated and have launched well planned psychological war against freedom movement. Last year's people's uprising unnerved them and as such, they are very desperate to overcome their frustration and desperate to sabotage movement through its agencies,' they said. Without mincing words, the Hurriyat leaders said it will be premature to determine the political destiny of the state of Jammu and Kahsmir since it is the majority that will decide the political discourse in the state. On Saturday Zakir Musa, who operates mainly out of south Kashmir, also urged the female student protesters to abandon stone-pelting and stay in classrooms, shocking netizens. 'I want to tell the sisters that whatever you are doing is against Sharia (Islamic ruling) as pelting stones without veil is unIslamic. In Islam, there are no such protests and that is why Allah is punishing us in the form of occupation,' Zakir said in an audio message. 'It is hurting our movement for establishing Islam because due to this (protests by girls) we can be punished by Allah. So, we request all our sisters to stay away from these acts and be inside their houses,' he said. The Hizb commander also apologised for one of his associates recently praising Pakistan Army chief General Raheel Shareef and Organisations of Islamic States, saying the General was not their commander-in-chief, as remarked by one of his associates in a video message recently. 'I regret this. He had said this by mistake and he too has apologised for this.' There has been an age-old debate in Kashmir, since the inception of militancy, on whether religion should play a dominating role in asking for political rights from the Indian State. People from different ideological underpinnings have often argued that although religion can't be separated from the political struggles but it should not take the leading role. In Kashmir, a section of the populace have always been wary of mixing religion with the Kashmir's 'freedom struggle'. They have been arguing that although religion can used for the inspirational role but it should become the focal point. Recently, everyone was surprised when a group of militants appeared near the grave of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Naseer Pandit on his first death anniversary in Pulwama district, warning the people against supporting 'un-Islamic Pakistan' while seeking support for the Taliban. The suspected militants told people not to hoist 'un-Islamic Pakistan flag' calling for a 'jihad' against Pakistan as well as India to establish Ummah, or Muslim brotherhood, transcending geographies. 'India is a tyrant state today and will remain one tomorrow. It has to go from Kashmir. We will be successful only when we unite for Islam. We love Pakistan only because it was created in the name of Islam. But there is no Islam in today's Pakistan. We have to do Jihad in Pakistan, just like in India,' said one of the militants. He called for Sharia law to be implemented in Kashmir. 'We have not stood up for any organisation or Pakistan, but Islam,' said the speaker. This is in contrast with the traditional stand of Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba, the two major militant outfits in Kashmir. The speaker said: 'We have taken up guns for Islam, not any nation. We want Islamic system, the system of Quran And for that, give your blood, life and property.' Monday's statement by Hurriyat will ruffle many feathers, but it seems they have now understood that it is better to distance from political movements led by religious ideologies and to keep political movement in Kashmir independent of any religious underpinnings.