This is a rebuttal to a statement Molvi Umar Farooq Sahib has made to claim that ‘Kashmir is not a religious issue.’
Sir, I respectfully beg to differ. At least for Kashmiri Muslims, the Kashmir issue is a religious issue.
No one disputes that fact that Kashmir is a political issue. But as I understand it, Islam is an all-encompassing way of life. There are no compartments in Islam, segregated from one another. Life is a whole, consisting of all that a person does, all day, every day. Is it possible, then, to divide for a Muslim, his public and private lives? Do you mean, yes, we are Muslim, but what we are doing has nothing to do with Islam? Which, by extension, would be that while we remain Muslims in the ritualistic manner, our public lives are governed by politics that are determined by worldly powers? I feel not.
Kashmir, as a dispute, has arisen from the post-1947 scenario, when the erstwhile state of J&K was invaded by Muslims from across the border in Pakistan, to ‘save and liberate’ their brethren from a ‘tyrannical ruler’ whose forces had unleashed a reign of terror and massacres in Jammu. Over a few weeks, a Muslim majority area, had been converted into a Muslim minority area. That is where this ‘dispute’ started. The Kashmiri struggle to be ruled by one of their own has a history of centuries, right from 1586, but that became irrelevant in the face of the 1947 Partition and the passing of sovereignty to one of two successor states, India or Pakistan, since the British had dissolved their treaties with the Princely states in June 1947. Partition was a solution to a problem with numbers. Where Muslims were in a majority, Pakistan came to exist. Kashmir, by virtue of being a Muslim majority area, had to be merged with Pakistan, but was prevented from doing so by a dilly-dallying Maharaja, who ultimately ‘conditionally’ acceded to India, hence depriving Kashmiris of their rightful fate. You know this too well. So is setting right a broken promise, a ‘political issue?’ Is claiming your legitimate right, a ‘political issue?’ How can it be that a ‘fundamental right’ is only a ‘political issue’ while it is religion itself that gives that fundamental right?
Considering that fate dealt us a bad blow, and Kashmir has ended up on the wrong side of history, does that mean that the root cause of the conflict be left buried? The root cause being that Kashmir is a Muslim-majority state in a fast, right-leaning Hindu-majority state. Europe, despite all its development and bloody history, despite the World Wars that were fought to ‘End all Wars,’ has found itself repeatedly plagued by civil conflict. The bloody disintegration of Yugoslavia, and the ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Bosnia that followed, was a conflict rooted in 600 years of rule by the Ottoman Turks. Did anyone ask the Serbs and Croats to ‘not turn the clock back?’ Ukraine lies in shambles, quickly disintegrating, thanks to centuries of ethno-religious conflict. Crimea has been annexed by Russia, and Donetsk and other regions are to follow. Did anyone mention to President Putin that ‘the world has changed?’ Unlikely. Unresolved, ethno-religious conflicts have a bad habit of rearing their ugly head from time to time. Kashmir is no different. If there is peace, it is because Kashmiris want peace. It is not because Pakistan and India want peace.
One more thing. If you look around, there are countless graves holding the remains of thousands of our brethren who have been killed by various sides of this conflict. Whether the poor, honest policeman, shot dead by a militant, or the dishonest, lying, conniving, pro-Indian political party worker, shot dead by the same militants, or the overground pro-militant worker, shot dead by the Army for financial rewards and India’s security, Kashmiris have died. Some have been buried in their ancestral graveyards, next to their ancestors. Some have been given a state funeral, their coffins being carried by high-ranking officers of the Police, coffins draped in a tricoloured flag. Some have been buried in graveyards, fondly called, Martyrs’ Graveyards, that dot Kashmir’s landscape. (Have you seen one recently?) They never got the show and glory of a state funeral, but those who buried these so-called ‘Martyrs’ risked their lives to bury them, and still do so today. Their coffins were draped with green flags bearing nothing but the Name of Allah. Did they all die for a ‘political issue?’
If you were to choose the cloth draping your coffin, dear Sir, which one would you prefer?