Kashmiri Muslims a misunderstood lot

In the first place, let it be clear to everyone that Kashmiri Muslims are a vibrant community. The community has its own unique geographical and ethnic identity, which is as troubled and torn as that of Kashmiri Hindus or Sikhs. The difference between these communities is that Kashmiri Muslims are demonised as some of them picked up guns and led the community and the place to the path of self-destruction.
Kashmiri Muslims a misunderstood lotThe place has been brutalised and the Kashmiri Muslims are caught in a pincer that comes with possession of bombs and bullets and the fear that comes with lack of these weapons. The fear is overwhelming as the bomb explosions and shootouts spread waves of fear among all vulnerable sections. This fear also drives them to participate in the anti-India protests. That, they think, is a possible escape route, but it is not. On the other end are the security forces that have not changed their attitude and mindset toward the militants and the population, claims to the contrary notwithstanding.
Their fears have been perpetuated by politicians of all hues, who have sold anti-Delhi or pro-Pakistan theories for seeking power and pelf. Now this is being played out as if Kashmiri nationalism was subservient to the global Muslim brotherhood. The new actors and groups like Islamic State have come to claim their right on the community. The IS has invoked both nationalist and religious appeals to bring the Kashmiri Muslim community to its fold. The IS is desperate to have its footprints in Kashmir. The Valley appears to be a fertile ground because there are fissures in the Muslim society.
The psyche in Kashmir is fast turning away from its liberal values that spoke of co-existence with other communities. The young generation is very angry. It is vulnerable to all the propaganda of “Jannat” (Paradise) after attaining martyrdom. The large expanse of graveyards of gun men, their sympathisers and those who fell to the crossfire cement the feelings of the new generation to fight for the cause of “jihad”. It is getting imprinted in their minds.
The Indians living outside Kashmir have misunderstood the community. They have formed their views on the theories pedalled by anti-Muslim minds and the TV anchors whose knowledge of Kashmir, regrettably, is very low. They are Kashmir illiterate, and so are the ones who claim that they know the Valley simply because they happen to have one or two leaders willing to appear on their screens at their command.
The cheating in the 1987 elections combined with the rising frustration brought in insurgency with the active participation and support of Pakistan. Thereafter, Pakistan took control of the militancy. So, Kashmiri Muslims became more Pakistani and the security forces and the Indian system started viewing the community with deep suspicion.
All the talk of “winning hearts and minds” by Delhi was monopolised by the Army. There is a lot of corruption in Operation Sadbhavana and exploitation of innocent minds. The soldiers should never be made faces of the nation. Delhi has been repeatedly committing this mistake. The problem is that the so-called mainstream is equally guilty of betraying their people in the Valley. The Centre thought that opening new avenues through money could open a window of opportunity to reach out to the Valley Muslims, but that didn’t happen. The money did not touch the intended corners of the needy. Instead, a few pocketed the money, which further raised the anger and the frustration.
The voices rose that they wanted something political, and the Centre responded by dumping the resolutions passed by the Assembly and the reports of interlocutors and working groups to the dustbin. That only complicated the psyche of Kashmiri Muslims. Their originality is at risk, which some of them try to restore through the alien concept of violent extremism. No one bothers to understand what went wrong. Unless there is an attempt to read the real problem, let me say the prognosis is very disturbing about the days to come.

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