03 March, 2019


I personally believe that Muslims as a community ought to take the most initiative in combating, nay, pre-empting terrorism by Muslims for whatever reason. 

Having invested three exciting years in Kashmir [and having later volunteered twice, to the central government under NDA, to go work for its integration with India] I crave your indulgence to let me share my angst. 

I denounced terrorism in the immediate aftermath of Pulwama, and everywhere else, all the time. That was the need of the hour. Having said this, and more than once, I am now turning my attention to what I believe is the true – and the most substantive - cause of Indo-Pak conflict: Kashmir. 

I do hold the Modi Govt’s muscular policy against the Kashmiris, breaking off track-two/three diplomacy, lack of focus on development, snapping democratic linkages etc as partly responsible for according to the militants much respectability amongst the local populace, and thereby a free reign in the society.

The tying of a civilian to the Army jeep and using him as a human shield [notwithstanding that even Congressmen like Amarinder Singh approved of it], and then decorating the Major who did this unprofessional act, indiscriminate pellets that blinded hundreds of young protesters / stone-pelters, snapping ties with the Hurriyat, [and now banning JI] etc contributed to alienating an already disenchanted Kashmiris from the mainland. 

The violence against Muslims in some parts of India on issues such as cow, the rising crescendo on the Mandir issue, the recent attacks on the Kashmiri students in the mainland institutions, the prolonged silence of our front ranking politicians on such troubles, all worked to produce a lot of hate-promoting videos and [anti]social messages. 

We, the civil society chose to look the other way when this was happening even while Kashmir was burning inside and bursting on the seams. A Pulwama was waiting to happen. The media then remained a mute spectator. The civil and human rights activists were too busy to attend to this troubling menace, too. 

There is little effective deterrence against suicide bombers. All we can do is to study and minimize, if not eliminate, the factors leading ordinary people to become terrorists. 

Tackling terrorists ought to go hand in hand with several other initiatives. Some are: sincere and visible development – specially to promote round the year employment, active and sustained linkages with Kashmiri population and their representatives including clergy - even if we do not like them - and media-men. We must also take a lot of other measures to identify, promote and integrate secular, liberal Kashmiris with mainland liberals, promoting interdependence between Kashmiri and mainland business and industry. I can share ideas.

We also need to delineate Islamist/Jihadi terror from political violence. Kashmir issue is NOT essentially a religious/communal issue although it does inevitably take religious hues. And we need to debrief, if not educate, fellow Indians in the entire mainland to promote an understanding of the historic background of this conflict. 

Also, ‘terror’, and ‘terrorism’ must be defined realistically. For the Kahmiris a lot of what we do appears terror, and leads to justify their terrorism. 

If all this sounds complicated, whoever thought resolving this dispute that has been festering for seven decades and that has consumed over two lakh precious human lives, would come cheap!

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