In the ’90s after the blatant hounding of Hindus from Kashmir, the Valley descended into years of regressive Islamisation as beards and hijabs became more and more visible. However, the descent into planned violence and repressive local edicts was given the name of ‘Azadi’ and continued in that form for several decades. Till recently when a Hizbul Mujahideen Commander who had taken over from the slain terrorist Burhan Wani, decided to blurt out the truth!
In a video message released on 12th May 2017, Zakir Musa threatened to behead the Hurriyat leaders for calling Kashmir a political struggle instead of acknowledging it as a religious war (Jihad) for the creation of an ‘Islamic State’! This statement embarrassed those who had been camouflaging their Jihad as a ‘glorious struggle for freedom’, by evening Musa had been disowned. He stuck to his guns and parted ways with Hizb, creating a splinter group which he chose to call the ‘Taliban-ei-Kashmir’. What Kashmir-watchers had dreaded for years, now seemed to be a reality! Has Zakir Musa actually provided India with a Kashmiri version of the dreaded Taliban?
Using his hardline Islamic appeal of waging Jihad against India, Zakir Musa has managed to lure away 12-15 members from the parent organisation. Most of these militants are from Tral, which seems to have become the hotbed of terrorism in South Kashmir. Like Burhan Wani before him, Zakir Musa has been using Social Media to release videos in a bid to woo Kashmiri youth towards Jihad. His messages talk about implementing Islamic laws like Sharia, which would mean that Kashmiris start sending their children to Madrasas and not regular schools, fashionable Kashmiri women need to get used to being in constant purdah or face disfigurement and Kashmiris in general, get used to a life sans music. Cinemas in Kashmir were shut down in the ’90s and local music bands have faced constant threats. The writ of the Taliban is also evident in the frequent and ‘mysterious’ burning down of more than 30 schools in Kashmir over the past year.
The Taliban are not new to Kashmir, the difference is that while earlier they entered the Valley as foreign terrorists from Afghanistan and Pakistan, their continued onslaught seems to have led to the growing radicalisation of local militants who now call themselves ‘Kashmiri Taliban’.
Other factors like the unchecked growth and influence of Wahabi mosques financed by Saudi money and the influence of extremist religious channels beaming constantly into Kashmiri homes via television. The highly provocative sermons delivered after Friday prayers in these innumerable mosques and the religious propaganda that Cable TV brought to every household for years, are directly responsible for this radicalisation that went on right under the Government’s nose.
The camouflage of ‘azadi’ meant to deceive the world has finally been discarded by the likes of Zakir Musa, who prefers to openly declare his mission of ‘Ghazwa-ei-Hind’, exhorting Muslims from the rest of India to join him. As early as April this year, a group of local militants ‘observing’ the ‘death anniversary’ of a slain terrorist Naseer Pandit, warned the gathered crowd against supporting ‘un-Islamic Pakistan’ while advocating support for the Taliban.
The call here too was for Jihad against India as well as Pakistan, in order to establish ‘Ummah’ or Muslim Brotherhood and the supremacy of Islam. This was reportedly followed by slogans of ‘Taliban Zindabad’ and strict instructions to replace the much-bandied Pak flag with black flags bearing the Kalimah, similar to those used by ISIS and Al-Qaeda.
The Taliban emerged in the early 1990s in northern Pakistan following the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan. A predominantly Pashtun movement, they came into prominence in Afghanistan in 1994, first appearing in religious seminaries- mostly paid for by money from Saudi Arabia- which preached a radical form of Sunni Islam. The Taliban have their own version of an austere form of Sharia which they seek to enforce wherever they gain influence. They support Islamic punishments such as public executions of murderers and adulterers and amputations for those guilty of theft. TV, cinema and music are among the long list of things banned by them, they also disapprove of girls, aged 10 and over, being sent to school.
The rise of the Taliban in the Valley, if indeed it is so, does not bode well for Kashmir, India or the world.