Srinagar: Amid growing radicalization of youth, the Jammu and Kashmir police have started profiling of the Imams (mosque preachers) in areas, which had become the center of protests during last year’s violence.
The police profiling has sent a wave of fear among the Imams, who as per sources have been asked to reveal their religious associations and the nature of sermons delivered by them during the prayers.
Officials say that the focus of the survey is to list mosques and their Imams where pro-Pakistan and Islamic State slogans are raised to radicalize the minds of the youth.
“Yes, we are profiling the Imams to know which Islamic school of thought they belong to and whether they are propagating radicalization,” said a police officer, who believes Imams played a role in instigating the violence during 2016.
He said the profiling is done to stop the “secessionist sermons” and anti-government activities in Kashmir.
Officials said the process has been taken up in Old City Srinagar for past few days and all the Imams and mosques would be profiled.
Inspector General of Police Kashmir Munir Khan denied that police is profiling the Imams or mosques.
“No, we are not profiling our Imams. Why will we profile our Imams? However, if a non-state subject Imam comes to Kashmir, we will have to check his antecedents,” Khan said.
However, sources said the format given to the police officers in all the districts is to be filled with the name of Imams, caretakers, and mosques.
The surveillance on Imams has raised eyebrows across the administrative and security apparatus of the State.
The State Government last year started the surveillance of Imams and mosques after a six-month long uprising in Kashmir. The state government had asked the officials to ascertain whether the mosques are run by State Auqaf or local committees. The civil administration in all the districts was asked to profile the Imams and mosques, where Taranas (pro-Pakistan songs) were being played.
Even Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti during her speech in Legislative Assembly in June 2016 criticized the Imams for targeting her government by raking up issues like Article 370, industrial policy and civilian killings in their sermons.
“I don’t understand why clerics discuss Article 370, Industrial Policy and killings inside the mosques. What is their business with Article 370? Is it necessary to speak against molestation of girls only when men-in-uniform are involved in the crime,” Mehbooba had said?
Pertinently, the state government had booked an Imam under Public Safety Act in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district for leading the funeral prayer of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) commander Abu Qasim in October 2015.