By JAVID AHMAD AHANGER
There is a myth and misconception around the world and particularly in India that Madrassahs are the prime tool of generating militant ideologies. However, it is looking at things only through a security prism that has created this sort of policy and paradigm, both among the intelligentsia and in security agencies. This is why the present ruling establishment in New Delhi also follows the same path when it comes to the Muslims in general and Kashmir policy in particular. No doubt that Madrassahs have played a very important role in spreading the teachings of Quran and Sunnah which are essential for reformation and guidance. Madrassahs are then one of the main reasons for humanization and not radicalization; they proffer the message of peace and prosperity not hatred; they provide the knowledge to prepare people for life here and the Hereafter; they develop a sense of morality and human values and not what the media propaganda and the politically motivated reports are propagating and suggesting.
The question that then arises here is: who is responsible for the past and present and the militarization of the conflict in Kashmir? The answer to this question is simple and clear: it is the conflict and the dispute that has created space for radical measures or we can say violent movement to attain closure to the conflict.
If the past is employed as a guide here in terms of the profile of the youth who joined militancy, then it needs to be understood that these youth never had a chance to educate themselves in Madrasas except for elementary Quranic teachings. Thus, the argument that the Madrasas are radicalizing youth is irrelevant and out of date. One needs to look into the pattern: the present militants in Kashmir are mostly, as has been reported by newspapers , college and university pass- outs having advanced degrees. These youth, it seems are disillusioned by the outcome of the protracted yet unsuccessful bilateral talks and the unfulfilled promises. Disillusioned thus, they find themselves treading the path left by erstwhile militants.
All this brings into focus the recent statement and report of the Home minister who said that “we need to address and control the Madrasas and media so as to control the new wave of radicalization in Kashmir”. The obvious question that this raises is: Will it help in curbing the problems? The answer is no because we need to understand the causes and historical narratives which are responsible for the conflict in Kashmir. Historically, policies of India from the day one to present need to be studied when it comes to the causes of militancy in the state. The need of the hour is that the statements of P. Chidambaram and Yaswat Sinha and other academicians and intellectuals about the current and ongoing movement in Kashmir should be taken seriously and a new framework should be formed to address the issues politically rather than militarily, because the more you suppress, the more you find the resistance which we witnessed in 2016.
The unfortunate, sorry state in Kashmir has killed tens of thousands and it continues its contested legacy and is swallowing our human resources. It brings to mind the famous quote of Mark Twain who said “the fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.” The fearless youth in Kashmir who put their life at risk have no fear of death. So, to repeat, the need is to address the issue politically, not military as war brings only destruction. The former military General of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, was uncannily prescient and right when he addressed the Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee:
“If we want to normalize relations between Pakistan and India and bring harmony to the region, the Kashmir dispute will have to be resolved peacefully through a dialogue, on the basis of the aspirations of the Kashmiri people. Solving the Kashmir issue is the joint responsibility of our two countries . . . Mr. Vajpayee . . . I take you up on this offer. Let us start talking in this spirit”. In a nutshell, then, the need of hour is statesmanship not confrontation.
—The author is a PhD Research scholar at the department of political science Aligarh Muslim University and can be reached at: Ahanger.firstname.lastname@example.org.