Islamic Territory Vs Democracy

A minority, and not a homogeneous minority at that, of less than 30% is terrorizing the whole of J&K, the whole of India, indeed the whole world.

Kashmir problem is not really a problem of territory nor a political problem between two neighboring nations; it is by and large, a problem caused and fueled by expansionist fundamentalist Islamist Sunnis of Pakistan. On what basis do I make such a statement?

Misguided Information

What most people know about Kashmir is likely to be sketchy and misguided, which may be somewhat like this:

  1. Kashmir is a Muslim majority state.

  2. During partition in 1947 the Hindu King joined hands with India because he could not withstand the mainly local Muslim rebellion. And he invited India to suppress the rebellion.

  3. Therefore the Hindu majority-India has no moral authority over Kashmir.

  4. Government of India is avoiding a referendum in Kashmir because it is sure to lose.

  5. The powerful Government of India through its brutal military is oppressing and torturing the innocent and poor Muslims there.

  6. Pakistan being a smaller country cannot help the poor Muslims of Kashmir. Therefore locals with the help of Pakistan are forced to rebel to gain their freedom.

Let us look at the holes in the above points one by one. The word Kashmir has four meanings –

  1. 1. The State of Jammu and Kashmir (J& K) of India.

  2. Kashmir as the third administrative unit of J&K; the other two being Ladaakh and Jammu. Geographically it covers mainly the valley of Jhelum, the smallest but the most beautiful area.

  3. The Undivided Kashmir as it had existed before the partition of India – J&K and POK together (U. Kashmir).

  4. Part of Undivided Kashmir now occupied by Pakistan (Pak Occupied Kashmir – POK).

Composition of Kashmiri Muslims

Both Kashmir region (99% Muslims) and J&K on the whole have Muslim majority, but not the Jammu and Ladaakh regions. It is vitally important to know that J&K is a multi religious, multi lingual and multi ethnic State. Religions in J&K are : Islam (64.3%1), Hinduism (32.1%), and others 3% {Sikhism 2.17%, Buddhism 1.17% and Christianity 0.12%}. Nine languages are Dogri, Kashmiri, Ladaakhi, Pothwari, Balti, Gojri, Dardi, Punjabi and Urdu. The major nine social ethnic groups are Kashmiri, Dogra, Gujjar, Bakerwal, Dard (immigrated long ago from Dardistan, CentralAsia), Balti, Gaddi, Pothwari (both Muslim and non-Muslim) and Chibalis. Muslims living in the Jhelum Valley are by and large farmers and craftsmen. Dograas inhabit mostly the Jammu area. Gujjars and Bakerwaals, the nomadic shepards, inhabit mountainous areas and migrate between plains and mountains during summer and winter. Gaddis are also herdsmen who live in the southeastern mountains of Jammu region. The Dard and Baltis inhabit Gurez, Tilel and Draas. Pothwaris inhabit the area between the rivers Jhelum and Chinaab. Ladaakhis are Mongoloids who inhabit the Ladaakh region - the trans-Himalayan region.

Heterogeneous Muslims

Some people tend to ignore a vitally important fact that Muslims, though all may call themselves so, are not a homogeneous group. Indeed they are very often inimical to each other. Shia and Sunni Muslims have been inimical to each other from their inception, indeed their birth was caused by a war between two groups. Of all the Muslim groups, Sunnis are known to be dominant and least tolerant. And Sufis, who are the devotional mystics among Muslims, are the most tolerant among them, and, philosophically, closer to the non-dual Hinduism than to Islam. Traditional Kashmiri Muslims are (very soon historians would say ‘were’) heavily influenced by Sufi-ism, and are even more tolerant and closer to non-dualistic Hinduism than Sufi-ism is. Sufi Saints in Kashmir were influenced by ‘rishis’ and were called ‘rishis’. Rishi is a word from Sanskrit which means Vedic sages. Kashmiri Rishis, who could be either Hindus or Muslims, believed in the non-dualistic Supreme God. Kashmiri Hindus had been living amicably with Kashmiri (Sufi) Muslims for centuries. Indeed there were no Hindu–Muslim riots in the U. Kashmir prior to partition. That does not mean that these liberalized Muslims were left undisturbed by orthodox Muslims.

Condemnation of Kashmiri Muslims by Muslims

Mirza Haider wrote in his ‘Tarikh-i-Rashidi’2 : “The Sufis have legitimized so many heresies that they know nothing of what is wrongful …They are forever interpreting dreams, displaying miracles and obtaining from the unseen, information regarding either the future or the past. Nowhere else is such a band of heretics to be found..... (They) consider the Holy Law (Shari at) second in importance to the True Way (tariqat, tradition) and that; in consequence, the people of the Way have nothing to do with the Holy Law.” (Quoted in Sufi 1947-8, pages 19-20). The famous traveler Lawrence in 1895 ascribed the delightful tolerance between Hinduism and Islam to “chiefly the fact that the Kashmiri Musalmans never really gave up the Hindu religion…. I do not base my ideas as to laxness of Kashmiris in religious duties merely on my observations. Holy men of Arabia have spoken to me with contempt of the feeble flame of Islam which burns in Kashmir and the local mullas talk with indignation of the apathy of the people. Again the Kashmiri Muslim historian G.M.D. Sufi writes in ‘Sufi 1947-8, p688’: A number of practices of Kashmiri Musalman are un- Islamic….The Buddhist worship of relics has insidiously crept into India’s Islam….The Kashmiri Muslim has transferred reverence from Hindu stones to Muslim relics”.

Though it may sound incomprehensible, by and large Sufis are not considered true Muslims, by other groups esp. Sunnis. Kashmiri Muslims who follow the ‘Rishis’ tradition are certainly considered misguided and untrue Muslims.

Traditionally, Kashmiri Muslims worship a hair of the Prophet Muhammad, as a sacred relic. Some years ago it was stolen from the ‘Hazaratbal’ mosque, and there was violence directed mainly against Hindus, and the Government. It appears logical that neither the J&K government nor Hindus but recently infiltrated terrorists from Pakistan had carried out this sacrilege not only to malign Hindus, but also to teach a lesson in purification to Sufi Muslims.

Majority of Muslims Are Against Separatist Movement

In India also many Muslim rulers persecuted Sufis along with Hindus. Therefore it should not be surprising to find that neither Shias nor Sufis want to have a truck with the orthodox and intolerant Sunnis, as is the reality in J&K. But a small group of terrorists can force the entire group to tow its line, as has happened in Afghanistan, and appears to be happening in Indonesia and is certainly happening in J&K. In reality Shias and Sufis have openly declared3, at the risk of their lives, that they are not with the demand of separatists, who are mainly Sunnis influenced and joined by the terrorists from Pakistan. Similarly, Vice President of J&K Congress, a highly revered leader of the Gujjar and Bakerwal communities, Mian Basheer has strongly urged the Prime Minister to “use force to crush the Jamait-e-Islami, a Sunni organization, which wants to have a stranglehold on the minorities by terrorizing them”. Therefore it is mainly Sunnis of Kashmir (valley) who are influenced by terrorists, that are terrorizing and fomenting trouble in J&K and beyond in India.

In the Valley, which has 99% Muslims, Sunnis constitute only 23 % of the population4, and yet they call the shots. Even if we were to include the other Sunnis of J&K, Sunnis are not more than 30 % of all the Muslims in J&K. Further not all Sunnis have the same goal. Some want to join Pakistan, and some want an independent Kashmir, and yet some, more autonomy within India. It may be relevant to note here that high corruption in the Sunni dominated Government of J&K, has also been one of the reasons for a feeling of frustration in all Kashmiris. And as war feeds on war, the long unsettled conditions also cause slowing of development and lack of job opportunities. Thus it is clear that a minority, and not a homogeneous minority at that, of less than 30% is terrorizing the whole of J&K, the whole of India, indeed the whole world, and there is a genuine fear of a nuclear war in the region.

India has no need to use nuclear weapons because it is strong enough to frustrate any conventional aggression from Pakistan, and defeat it. The aggressive Pakistan is likely to use its nuclear arsenal in frustration of defeat and for saving its face. Pakistan could be sure to launch the nuclear attack first and thus gain a definite superiority, and may cripple India’s capability to retaliate with nuclear weapons; and also may hope that by that time the world community would manage to impose a ceasefire. Therefore the fear of a nuclear war is rather real, and is staring at us unless we can do something now to prevent it. Therefore it is necessary for the world to understand the reality of the Kashmiris who are suffering an unending misery at the hands of terrorists.

Continued on Next Page

1. The data on population have been taken from Indian Defence Review 1995, Article Author- Hari Om.
2. Kashmir in a Historical Outline – (www.kashmir-information.com)
3. “Sadiq Ali, a close associate of Sheikh Abdullah and a prominent leader of Shias has declared unequivocally that, “the one million Shias in J&K are in danger as they face discrimination from the Pakistan supported militants and 1.8 million Sunnis…”.- The Sunday Mail, 31 July – 6 August 1994; Indian Express 11 August 1994.
4. Source – Indian Defence Review – 1995.


More by :  Vishwa Mohan Tiwari, AVM (Retd)

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