Kashmir, Where Islamic fundamentalism faces off with Hinduism and Buddhism by Mark Ulyseas
Ulyseas has served time in advertising as copywriter and creative director selling people things they didn’t need, a ghost writer for some years, columnist of a newspaper, a freelance journalist and photographer. In 2009 he created Live Encounters Magazine, in Bali, Indonesia. It is a not for profit (adfree) free online magazine featuring leading academics, writers, poets, activists of all hues etc. from around the world. March 2016 saw the launch of its sister publication Live Encounters Poetry, which was relaunched as Live Encounters Poetry & Writing in March 2017. He has edited, designed and produced all of Live Encounters’ 151 publications till date (April 2019). Mark’s philosophy is that knowledge must be free and shared freely (without charge) to empower all towards enlightenment. He is the author of three books: RAINY – My friend & Philosopher, Seductive Avatars of Maya – Anthology of Dystopian Lives and In Gethsemane: Transcripts of a Journey. www.amazon.com.
The area in question relates to Kashmir (majority Muslim), Jammu (majority Hindu), Ladakh (majority Buddhist).
Let us call the Kashmir issue for what it is, Communalism: a Muslim-Hindu historical religious confrontation.
From the moment the Hindu King of Kashmir (1) sought India’s protection from the marauding Muslim tribesmen from what is now POK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir or Azad Kashmir) supported by the Pakistan Army, the stage was set for another historical confrontation for supremacy between Islam (fighting to impose its diktat) and Hinduism (defending its ancient homeland). This was at a time of the Partition (1947) when millions were senselessly killed, both Muslims and Hindus, and when two obstinate independence leaders – Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Jawaharlal Nehru failed to see and accept the consequences of their belligerence towards one another. Jawaharlal’s beloved Kashmir is now awash in blood and hate. The vibrant colours have gone, replaced with the colour blood.
Much has been written about the political and legal aspects (2) of the present inherited carnage.
Much has been argued in the UN and elsewhere supported by none other than a parochial media and politicians whose sole purpose was/is to create schisms between the two nations/religions for their own political agenda.
Bloody charades continue with Pakistan and India ignoring the elephant in the room – communalism. Phrases like self-determination, civil and human rights etc. are thrown around in various international forums to obfuscate the issue of communalism, ethnic cleansing and the bloody actions of Islamic fundamentalists. And, perhaps, to promote a third party involvement, China or Saudi Arabia (?), to lend legitimacy to such actions. China is using Pakistan to crack down on the persecuted Uighurs (3) and it is for this reason only that China vetoes in favour of Pakistan in the UNSC. Are certain elements in terror groups, the likes of Masood Azhar, used to ensure security of the CPEC in POK and stability in its restive Xinjiang province? (4)(5)
Pakistan, which has seen decades of rule by its military and intelligence services, has failed to come to terms of peace primarily due to this inherent communalism. Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, the long serving de facto head of state ensured that Pakistan moved away from Ali Jinnah’s vision of a federal state by introducing Sharia. This opened the door to fundamentalism in its purest form. Enter the USA and its allies in the Afghanistan theatre to add lethal munitions to extremism… thousands of weapons destined for the Afghan war ended up in the hands of undesirables who wrought havoc on both fronts – Pak/Afghan and Pak/India, and unfortunately within Pakistan. Another general who has since fled Pakistan, Musharraf, is accused of being involved in the assassination of former Prime Minister of the country Benazir Bhutto who had returned to the country to fight the national elections. Corruption within the political parties and security forces has bled the country of precious resources. It is now the indisputable centre for terrorism in all its avatars. Terrorism that is supported by a Sharia state that propagates Islamic fundamentalism through extreme violence. It is now on the grey list of FATF (Financial Action Task Force, Paris-based global intergovernmental body working to curb terrorism financing and money laundering) and is on the verge of being blacklisted (6) for the continued terror financing and state support for Daesh (ISIS), Al Qaeda, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Haqqani network, and all terrorists affiliated with the Taliban.
According to Indian intelligence inputs, the Jamaat-e-lslami (which has been banned, again) (7) based in Jammu & Kashmir has been using its network of religious schools to spread anti-India feelings among children in the Kashmir Valley and encouraging cadres of the Jamaat-e-lslami (J&K) youth wing (Jamiat-ul-Tulba) to join “Jihad” by getting recruited into terrorist outfits. Jamaat-e-lslami has established strong links with Pakistan’s ISI for ensuring logistics support for arming, training and supply of weapons to Kashmiri youths and its leaders continue to maintain regular contact with the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi for support. (8) (NDTV)
India, a moderate democracy, has faced Islamic terrorism perpetrated by Pakistan based Islamic fundamentalists directed by the ISI and proselytizing by Islamic preachers (9). India has the third largest Muslim population in the world (approx.180 million), most of whom are Sunni. It also has the second largest Shia population in world, second only to Iran.
Certain Indian politicians have failed miserably to counter the rise of this violent ideology (Islamic fundamentalism), which has raised its bloody head not only in Kashmir but in other parts of India and instead resorted to unsavoury tactics in an attempt to grab power. The litany of complaints against the existing government on various issues has given ammunition to Pakistan based Islamic fundamentalists and their sympathisers in India.
Politicians across the spectrum are using all methods to garner a higher percentage of approval by appealing to followers of one religion or another, different castes and announcing outlandish financial schemes to lure voters. Perhaps, in the process, creating irredeemable fissures in society.
The truth is that India was never a secular country. It is the homeland of the Sanatan Dharma: Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism, which despite invasions and occupations over millennia has flourished. So let us call it for what it is rightly — a Hindu country. The term secularism means devoid of religious aspects in governance and law. But is this so?
The refrain of Kashmir (Muslim state in India?) by hand wringing individuals and organisations with an agenda lacks a sense of ground reality, religious and historical. They have ignored the butchery and religious ethnic cleansing carried out by Islamic fundamentalists of Kashmiri Hindus, indigenous people of Kashmir who were there before the advent of Islam. (10, 11). The media has all but forgotten the killings of Kashmiri Hindus in their rush to condemn the present omissions and commissions of the Indian government in Kashmir. The civil and human rights of the Kashmiri Hindus have never been upheld by any political party. So what should the Kashmiri Hindus do? Cover their faces with gumchas and throw stones at the security forces? Gun down security personnel? Ambush army convoys? Murder innocent civilians for siding with the authorities like the Islamists are doing in Srinagar and elsewhere in the State? Or should they turn on the Muslims in Kashmir and start murdering them? Fortunately, the Kashmiri Hindus have not resorted to violence and have struggled to rebuild their lives, peacefully.
Recently, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit passed a resolution condemning India’s (excluding Pakistan) actions in Kashmir (not Jammu and Ladakh) which is standard for all OIC statements over the last several decades (12). OIC conveniently overlooks the past bloody ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Hindus – murder, beatings, rape and theft of properties (reminiscent of the Partition days).
Pakistan ceded 5,180 sq. km of northern Kashmir and Ladakh to China, thereby recognizing its (China) sovereignty over the land. Land that it had no right to give away. Land which is not part of Pakistan but Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. Further it has relocated thousands of Pakistanis to POK thereby irrevocably changing the demography of the land.
Large tracts of land in Gilgit-Baltistan have been handed over to the Chinese for the $57-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). (13) The indigenous people’s resistance movement for independence from Pakistan has been smothered (14, 15). The suppression of certain elements in the Pakistani press is another method used to prevent reportage from and of this disputed area.
What the world sees is a sanitized version of Azad Kashmir, unlike the press reportage on the other side of the border where democracy prevails. (16)
The Kashmiri Hindus are refugees in their homeland India, whilst Muslim Kashmiris and Hindus in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir are strangers, side lined, in their dismembered homeland.
Trending (popular among the politically correct) in India: Anyone with a tilak on the forehead is a right wing Hindu? Anyone who wears an orange scarf is a right wing Hindu? Anyone who supports the ruling party is a right wing Hindu fundamentalist? The sacred Hindu Swastik is now being deliberately associated with the Nazi Hakenkreuz by those seeking to discredit Hinduism as a whole. (17)
Media on both sides of the border have taken sides on the political aspects of Kashmir. A sensible objective approach appears to be non-existent. Warped nationalism and skewed religious views have taken over. The refusal to accept that Kashmir is a communal issue and not a political one has been deliberately obfuscated. And this could lead to even more violence.
However, one cannot ignore the strategic military importance to India of the tripartite border it shares with Pakistan and China in northern Kashmir, which in a manner of speaking is the gateway to India. (18)
It is believed that there can be a political solution and this must begin with restoration of democracy and by respecting Kashmiris as Indians and not treating them as Pakistani agents. But how many Kashmiris (read as Muslims) want to remain with ‘secular India’? How many want to create a ‘Muslim state’ in India? And what about the Hindus and Buddhists, don’t they have a say in their homeland? The continued ‘support’ for the Islamic fundamentalists by Pakistan has reached a level of no return.
Hence, there can never be a political solution, only a religious one to stem the violence and bring about a semblance of peace. Religious leaders from Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh (19, 20, 21, 22) should meet to work out a method of living peacefully together, to get justice for all citizens including the Kashmiri Hindus using the four divine truths common to all religions – love, non-violence, forgiveness and charity.
Further Article 35A incorporated in the Constitution by a 1954 Presidential order, which confers special rights and privileges upon the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and prohibits people from outside the state from buying any immovable property in the state, must be abrogated because of its discriminatory aspects. Hundreds of thousands of Indian citizens in this state vote in the Lok Sabha (national) elections but are barred from voting in State, municipal or Panchayat elections. Their children cannot get government jobs, they cannot own property and their children cannot be admitted to government institutions. Article 35A was not part of Article 370 but was added years later under the benign rule of Jawaharlal Nehru. Supreme Court of India is to hear petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35A. (25) One hopes that justice will prevail.
When religion becomes the State and the State becomes the religion then there are no civil parameters…all is lost to the subjectiveness of Truth. Interpretation becomes a matter of personal likes and dislikes based solely on religious mongering with verbal and physical abuse. This is why, perhaps, a country that has been artificially formed on the basis of religion will continue to bleed, both in mind and body. The State that is the birth place of ancient religions must be aware of the civil lines that demarcate State from religion. For religion is an integral part of culture and can be used as an incendiary device for politics of derision where all concerned become losers.
Hence, India must exorcise the unfortunate inheritance of the special status of Jammu & Kashmir by cancelling Article 370 and embracing all permanent residents of this State as equal shareholders in the Indian Union. Furthermore, India must demand that Pakistan and China return the land seized by them.
All views expressed here are personal.
© Mark Ulyseas