“The gun can solve no problems. Issues can be guided by the three principles of insaniyat , jamhooriyat and kashmiriyat ,” was former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s message to Kashmiris in Lok Sabha after his Jammu Kashmir tour in 2003. Today nothing has changed and in fact situation has become worse. The spirit of “Kashmiriyat” that he spoke about is dead. It died a slow death by the hands of militants and separatists.
Today an extremist Islamic ideology possess a new challenge in restoring law and order in Kashmir. The ideology is known as Wahhabism which is strait-laced interpretation of Islam promoted by Saudi Arabia. It is infiltrating the minds of Kashmiri youth through organizations such as Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith. These are social fronts of terror organizations working in the facade of a religious and welfare. Kashmir is plagued by around 700 salafi mosques where Anti-India speeches are regular.
Swelling congregations of Kashmiri men flock there for their prayers where they are brainwashed and instigated to fight Indian Army. When the prayers finish these ‘peaceful’ citizens pelt stones and damage public property. Around every village along the 60-km stretch northwest of Srinagar towards Gulmarg has one or more Salafi mosques funded by Ahl-e-Hadith. The new Salafi mosques and their attendant madras as have replaced the hundreds of dilapidated mosques built over centuries in the age-old Sufi tradition. Unlike, Sufi shrines, Ahl-e-Hadith mosques are more conservative. Women must be wrapped in Burqas while the men keep moustache-less beards and don skull caps. Also, their pajamas must end just above the ankle which is in accordance with Wahhabi principles.
The introduction of the Salafi School in Kashmir goes back nearly a hundred years. However, at that time situation was completely different. Things began to change when insurgency raised its head in 1989. A violent struggle for a separate homeland featuring mass protests, acts of sabotage, hit and run attacks against military units and Kashmiri Pundits was crushed with force. It was at that time only when Soviet Union was defeated in Afghanistan and the mujahidin turned their attention towards Kashmir.
It did not take long for Pakistan-trained militants to hijack the local sentiment for freedom. However, ‘Freedom’ or ‘Azadi’ was not their actual motive. They gradually transformed the struggle into Jihad. Their main goal is to establish an Islamic caliphate in Kashmir. Kashmiris waving ‘ISIS’ flags is not an uncommon occurrence today. Local Islamists play on the fears of the people. They preach that Indian army presence is eroding Kashmir’s Muslim identity. The only way out is to join the holy war against infidels. In Salafism they find their ultimate goal. The sermons or khutbas preached at mosques in Kashmir spew venom against India and are filled with extremist views. These sermons are recorded and then spread through social media. Kids as young as five are taught these vitriolic khutbas and infused with hatred towards Indian state.
The increase in the terror attacks on security forces in Kashmir particularly after the killing of Kashmiri terrorist Burhan Wani, followed by stone pelting and protest demonstrations by Kashmiri youths (misguided in the eyes of government and media) against security forces is an integral part of militant Wahhabi jihad against India.
Kashmiris are just a pawn in a big game of the Salafists to eradicate ‘Kashmir’ of its Hindu roots. It is for this reason Saudi Arabia has been pumping huge money for propagation of Wahhabi ideology in Kashmir.
Wahhabis are those who follow the teachings of Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab. The Wahhabis are also referred to as Salafis. As a rule of thumb, all Wahhabis are Salafis but not all Salafis are Wahhabis. Until the 1970s, the term Salafism did not become associated with the Wahhabis. It was only in the early 20th century that the Wahhabis referred to themselves as Salafis.
The plan of Wahhabis was to first wahhabise the Sufi influenced Muslim population of Kashmir and then gradually transform Muslims in rest of India to hardline Islam. The movements for the restoration of the Islamic rule in the region by the pro-Wahhabi and hardline Islamist organizations under the nose of vote greedy politicians like Farooq Abdullah are helping in radicalization.
Very few of the Kashmiri Muslims particularly in countryside are still the followers of Sufi Islam and they are against this so called ‘azadi’ movement. Lieutenant Umer Fayaz, the son of an apple farmer was one of them. Fayaz hailed from Kulgam in South Kashmir and was deployed with Rajputana Rifles. He had taken leave to attend his cousin’s wedding. It was there he was kidnapped by terrorists and his bullet ridden body was found in Shopian next day. The militants fear that youths from Kashmir joining Indian Army or JK police would hamper their cause. It is because of this terrorists like Burhan Wani are portrayed as heroes of Kashmir and not brave hearts like Lieutenant Umar Fayaz.
According to Intelligence agencies the Saudi charities and private donors route zakat (charity) money to Jammu and Kashmir through illegal hawala channels. There is high spurt during the Eid season. Whenever mosque managements are questioned about it, their explanation is that it is donation or goat-skin money.
All organizations registered under the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA), 1976, have to submit their annual balance sheets to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).But most of these Kashmiri fronts of Saudis are not registered to the ministry and that’s why it’s difficult to track the funds.
Saudi Arabia sent in several Wahhabi preachers into India an Intelligence Bureau report states. Between 2011 and 2013 alone, a record number of 25,000 Wahhabis came to India and conducted seminars in various parts of the country. They brought Rs 1700 crore with them in several installments and used it to propagate the Wahhabi style of Islam.
For decades successive Indian governments have remained indifferent to Saudi funding; those who criticized the unregulated growth of Salafist schools and presence of Wahhabi teachers from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other Gulf countries were branded “Hindu fundamentalists”. It’s high time now and the Indian government must restrict the ‘Breaking India’ ideology propagated through these radical organizations.