Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

UJC Squirming for Excuses as Muslim Clergymen Declare Terrorism Unacceptable in any Shape or Form

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz reports on shifting ground realities in Kashmir and beyond

Clergy conclave leaves no space for ‘cause-and-consequence’ argument

Deoband fatwa ruffles feathers of Kashmiri separatists

(Mr. Fayyaz, 47, was born in Bodina, Budgam, and received his primary and secondary education in Budgam and later at Amar Singh College, Srinagar. He completed his Master's degree in Kashmiri language and literature from the University of Kashmir in 1987. He is the Srinagar bureau chief of Jammu & Kashmir's largest-circulated newspaper, Daily Excelsior. He is also a filmmaker and currently making a film on Kashmir's top pilgrim tourism destination of Chrar-e-Sharief, and about Sheikh-ul-Alam Sheikh Noor-ud-din Noorani, also known as Nund Rishi.)

SRINAGAR, Feb 28: The historic congregation of over 10,000 clergymen in the Sub-continent’s theological seat of Deoband on February 24-25 has understandably ruffled the feathers of Kashmiri separatist politicians and militants as the declaration adopted unanimously has not only dismissed “terrorism” as Un-Islamic but has also asked all Muslims to “continue their loyalty towards their motherland”. Two days after the Kashmiri guerrilla outfit Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen rejected the fatwa as “poison for all Islamic movements in the world”, militant conglomerate Muttahida Jihad Council (MJC) has termed the declaration as “one-sided” and asserted that “Jihad” would continue till Doomsday.

Identical reactions to the declaration have poured in from almost all separatist politicians, including some militant outfits, who have invariably expressed surprise over the fact that it has left no space for the cause-and-consequence argument. Leaders of the so-called moderate faction of the Hurriyat Conference have made a reaction only when they were contacted by mediapersons. Presently in the United States of America, Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq is under no compulsion to make a statement. Those who made an observation in the last three days, seem to be invariably disappointed as their famous argument of ‘cause-and-consequence’ has been ignored with contempt.

In a mixture of confusion and desperation, some of these “moderate” separatist leaders, like the fresh Hurriyat entrant Shabir Shah, have partially welcomed the declaration. They sound to be relieved over the fact that the declaration has also been forcefully critical of the Indian Police and security agencies for targeting the Muslims and their religious schools and labeling them as “terrorists”. Leaders of Kashmir’s Jamaat-e-Islami, who have been often influenced by Jamaat-e-Islami of Pakistan and maintained distance from Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, have taken pleasure in the fact that some leaders at the conclave have described the US President as the world’s “biggest terrorist”.

Kashmir’s head Mufti, Bashir-ud-din, has been the one-odd Kashmiri Muslim theologian who has fully endorsed the Deoband declaration in unambiguous terms. According to a Chandigarh-based newspaper, Mufti Bashir-ud-din has termed “all killings in the name of Islam, including those in Kashmir” as Un-Islamic.

The most emphatic reaction among all Kashmiri separatist leaders has come from none other than the estranged Jamaat ideologue and Chairman of the so-called hardline faction of Hurriyat, Syed Ali Shah Geelani. Unlike all of his Azadi colleagues, Geelani has made it a point to contact a number of Srinagar-based newspapers and news agencies so as to register his protest. Like all of his colleagues, Geelani is surprised as to why the Deoband declaration has “not drawn a line of demarcation” between the “armed struggles of genuine cause” and “terrorism”. He has, as usual, argued that the militancy in Jammu and Kashmir and some Muslim countries was a “consequence of the State terrorism”.

While most of the separatist leaders have endorsed that all acts of terrorism and killing of innocent people were Un-Islamic, they have implicitly asserted that Kashmiri militants were not indulging in acts of terrorism.

Radical militant outfit, Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen, has categorically rejected the fatwa with the allegation that it was a “poison for all Islamic movements in the world”. It was quickly seconded by Muzaffarabad-based amalgam of 14 militant organisations, MJC, which observed that the declaration had not distinguished between “terrorism and Jihad”. In a statement today, MJC spokesman Sadaqat Hussain expressed surprise that the Deoband clerics had not lent any sanctity to the “Jihad Fi Sabeelillah” in Palestine, Kashmir, Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya etc. He has desired to know why India had not been mentioned as “tyrant and oppressor” in Kashmir by Maulana Madni of Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Hind who had “rightly” called George Bush as the Muslim world’s “terrorist”.

The MJC spokesman has alleged that Maulana Madni had just made an attempt to appease the Government of India. He has asserted that “Jihad” (in Kashmir and other places) would continue till Doomsday.

Deoband declaration is unprecedented for it first time that a gathering of over 10,000 clergymen, representing nearly 6,000 Islamic madrasas all over India, has denounced “terrorism in all its manifestations”. With the participation of more than 50,000 students, it has unequivocally specified that all acts of terrorism in the name of Islam---violence, oppression, mischief, rioting, murder---were Un-Islamic.

The organisers also called upon all Muslims to continue “their loyalty towards motherland”. More importantly, the anti-terrorism conference was attended by all schools of thought including Deobandis, Bareilvis, Ahl-e-Hadith, Shias, besides top-ranking representatives of Rabita Madaras-e-Islamia Arabia, Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Hind, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind and All India Muslim Personal Board.

Notwithstand the fact that in most of the political and religious matters, Kashmiri Muslims and those in rest of India have not been on one alignment, Deoband declaration has a tremendous potential of isolating a fairly good section of population from the militant mainstream. While a top thinktank of Darul Uloom Deoband, Maulana Anzar Shah Kashmiri, has been a frequent visitor to Mirwaiz Manzil, both Deobandis as well as Bareilvis, have not only established two separate chains of madrasas all over the Valley but have also gained control of hundreds of mosques, particularly in the last 10 years. Reports said that the congregation in Deoband had also a “reasonable representation” from Kashmir.

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