Home Muslim religion For a Shaheen Bagh in Srinagar: The Tribune India

For a Shaheen Bagh in Srinagar: The Tribune India


Rajesh ramachandran

Aryan Khan should be released on bail at the earliest; Diwali should also be called Jashn-e-Riwaz; but are these the most pressing issues of communal discord in our country right now? At least five people have been killed in Srinagar in recent weeks because they were not Muslims – that simple. Two of them were from Jammu and Kashmir – unfortunately one was Sikh and the other Hindu, reason enough to be killed in a predominantly Muslim province. The sad fact of modern Indian life is that minority communitarianism provokes, supports and legitimizes majority communitarianism. Although Hindutva has its roots in colonial chicane, its success is only guaranteed by Islamist militancy, separatism and regression, which in turn unleashes competitive oppression on an unimaginable and immeasurable scale.

That majoritarianism is not the prerogative of any particular religion must be understood to tackle this threat.

But what makes matters worse is mainland India’s usual response to targeted killings of Hindus and Sikhs in Kashmir. It’s almost as if J & K’s Sikh and Hindu lives don’t matter or worth protesting across the country. The anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests from Delhi to Thiruvananthapuram and from Mumbai to Kolkata took place due to apprehension of loss of citizenship of Muslims. The apprehension was legitimate in the context of the dreaded National Register of Citizens and the process of identifying recent illegal migrants in Assam. The Muslim community wanted legally binding assurance from the government, which did not happen.

All the community was looking for was an opportunity for peaceful coexistence, a life without fear of being lynched on eating habits or the meat in the fridge. After around two dozen killings of Muslims by vigilant cows, the community has rightly protested to ensure their constitutionally enshrined freedoms, rights and privileges.

Well, shouldn’t these lofty, idealistic, constitutional conditions of harmonious citizenship also apply to minorities in J&K? About a lakh of people have been living in “refugee camps” for 30 years in their own state. It was derisively said in 1990 that these Kashmiri Hindus fled because then governor Jagmohan wanted them fired to deal with the militants. What a mistake ! Just as that old lie was exposed for what it was, the recent murders have conclusively established the motive for the massacre of 35 Sikhs at Chittisinghpura in 2000. There have been countless murders to force able-bodied people to give up their precious homes with everything inside. . But unfortunately there were no “Kashmiri Hindu murder trackers” then. But every murder and every expulsion quietly worked on the psyche of the core Hindi voters, who were urged to identify with the victim’s religion.

The Kashmir Valley was transformed into Dar al-Islam with the ethnic cleansing of non-Muslims. The secular parties did not want to see it then and do not see it now, with the result that the forces of the Hindutva are reaping a rich harvest of hatred. There could be many local factors behind these targeted killings – terrible justifications for the most heinous acts. The most cruel reason given is that these murders are aimed at preventing Hindus from recovering their lost homes or trying to make a tight deal against properties previously sold for a song on power of attorney documents. If this is true, it only means that the targeted killings of Hindus and Sikhs are sanctioned by Muslim society in the valley.

It is also the responsibility of all those who have demonstrated for the rights of minorities against the CAA to create a Shaheen Bagh in Srinagar to ensure equal rights for non-Muslims and non-locals in the province to Muslim majority. Love caravans are expected to travel to the valley whenever a local Sikh school principal, Hindu teacher or Hindu bihari worker is targeted. Otherwise, these attempts to fight against majoritarianism lose their meaning and are reduced to simple Muslim religious projects. When a Hindu or a Sikh is killed in the valley, when Dar al-Islam takes root there, then by default this reinforces the demand for a Hindu Rashtra elsewhere. And the chronology of the expulsion of the Hindus shows that the rise of the Hindu right began mainly after the appalling attacks on minorities in the valley. That majoritarianism is not the prerogative of any particular religion must be understood to effectively combat this threat.

Kerala has a rapidly growing, large, prosperous and progressive Muslim community, which unfortunately spawned its own Islamic fundamentalists. According to media reports, more than 100 people “joined or attempted to join ISIS” from Kerala and 10 of them traveled to Syria in 2018. Even when Kerala remains a Dar al-Harb for the hotheads , they succeeded in enforcing Sharia law by cutting off the hand of a university professor for “blasphemy”. How does this equivalence work? While we insist that radical Hindutva should accept MF Husain’s right to undress Hindu goddesses and even Bharat Mata (which is a modern, fully clothed construction of Abanindranath Tagore), no one is really trying to convince Islamists that Professor TJ Joseph has every right to refer to a character called Muhammed in a questionnaire without having his hand cut off.

Dar al-Islam and Hindu Rashtra are two sides of the same coin. If we allow the former to be applied in a Muslim mohalla, the latter becomes an eventuality over vast swathes of equally regressive terrain. India has remained firmly and honestly secular despite the horror of partition and the creation of Pakistan for Indian Muslims. The prevailing sentiments did not allow the Hindu right to ask Muslims to go to Pakistan now that they had their own nation. Pakistan’s first two wars to annex Kashmir on religion could not build the Hindutva in India. The genocide of Hindus by the tens of thousands in East Pakistan was never even discussed in religious terms when Bangladesh was liberated. But the secular and dominant silence over the murder of innocent Kashmiri Hindus has sparked an ongoing political backlash. It is imperative that every secular person stands up for the right of Hindus and Sikhs to live in peace in the Kashmir Valley.


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