|By Lt. General P.C. Katoch (Retd)
Former Director General of Information Systems, Indian Army
It was in August 2016 that Asim Umar, chief of Al Qaeda’s South Asia branch (AQIS) gave the call for Indian Muslims to rise and carry out lone wolf attacks in India particularly targeting IPS and IAS officers. Shaped in radicalized seminaries and madrassas of Pakistan, he is tasked for terrorism from Afghanistan to Myanmar. His mother organization HUJI ran branches in Kashmir and Myanmar, so Ayaman Zawahri feels he can deliver. There is no doubt that Pakistan used the killing of Burhan Wani to increase violence in the Kashmir Valley but radicalization has been ‘allowed’ to take control past several years. The number of mosques controlled by Wahabis including the Ahle Hadith went up over the last decade plus from around 1,000 mosques to around 2,000 with most of the youth opting for them than the traditional Kashmiri Sufi shrines.
The influence of the Wahabis has also changed the nature of the insurgency in Kashmir as from seeking freedom for Kashmir, the narrative has changed with terrorists fighting for the cause of Islam. The clergy has by design permitted such discourse in the mosques controlled by Wahabis, assisted by the Hurriyat separatists who are also conduits for funding terrorism as also their supporter stone-pelters. For months on end, violence went up immediately post Friday prayers in Kashmir Valley with waving of Pakistani and ISIS flags and anti-India sloganeering while the administration looked away. Lynching to death of Deputy Superintendent of Police Mohammed Ayub Pandith, close on the heels of the killing of Lieutenant Ummer Fayaz, plus killing of six policemen of J&K Police including the SHO of the police station and mutilating the dead bodies, raised queries as to why are Kashmiris killing their “own”? But the question is who do they consider their “own”? A certain cross-section that chants “Kashmir Banega Pakistan” have been radicalized akin to the Pakistan supported Taliban whom Major Agha H Amin, former Pakistan army officer described in 2012 as “considering all Shias, Ismailis, non-Pashtuns, moderate Pashtuns as infidels who deserve to be massacred”.
So it should not be surprising that the radicals consider the non-radicalized fit to be massacred. When Shia mosques are regularly bombed in Pakistan, it may not be far when terrorists start bombing mosques in the Valley that are aligned with the Sufi culture. While two of the three suspects three suspects involved in the lynching and killing of DSP Mohammed Ayub Pandith have been arrested and hunt is on for the third, SP Vaid, J&K Director General of Police has stated that Mirwaiz Umar Farooq's men were involved in the killing of the DSP. It hardly can be ruled out that the killing was ordered by Umar Farooq himself, and whether this was because Ayub Pandith became privy to some activities of Umar Farooq. Umar Farooq is a Pakistani stooge who gives sermons in the mosque during Friday prayers and obviously is part of the radicalization program. He needs to be thorough Interrogated. The second issue is that of education. What the centre is unaware, and the State Government is implicit, is that schools (not madrassas) in the Valley are teaching children to hate non-Muslims. This needs to be addressed beyond Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti who does little beyond calling periodically for the need to resume dialogue. Ironically, neither the Centre, nor the J&K State Government has any cogent plan of de-radicalization beyond blocking the internet, mobiles and the like. The clergy involved in the radicalization of the youth must be tackled in effective manner. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq is both politician and clergy, and the likes of him must be stopped from fanning the fires.
Two things appear certain:
The PDP anyway won elections with the Hijbul Mujahiddeen (HuM) support and the National Conference is equally linked to the separatist and terrorists underhand, with Farooq Abdulla openy calling for ‘azadi’ and ‘sharia’. Even though terrorism is thriving in only 4-5 districts of J&K in the Kashmir Valley (which is just a segment of J&K), J&K requires Governor’s rule, firm hand and well defined policy, with radicals and anti nationals purged ruthlessly.