Can Revival of ‘Traditional Islam’ Counter-Radicalisation and Terrorism in J&K ?
Delivering the keynote address at the international seminar on ‘Addressing the Challenges of International Terrorism and Radicalisation’ at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) on November 23, 2016, Governor of Jammu and Kashmir NN Vohra described political motivation as a key to radicalisation and Islam as a vehicle to legitimise radical philosophies and called for a need for strong intra-regional, regional and global policies to counter the menace of terrorism.
The Seminar was organized as a precursor to the sixth ministerial meeting of the ‘Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process’, scheduled at Amritsar on December 4.
Reflecting on how the true philosophies of Islam have been overshadowed by the radical school of thought, he implored all the nations afflicted by terrorism to join hands and revive ‘traditional Islam’. The clergy should lead by propagating the true teachings of ‘Sufism’ through a counter-discourse, and the youth across nations should also be engaged, pointed out the Governor.
Radicalisation in the Indian context is a threat to the very unity and integrity of the country, said Vohra. India cannot allow a large community to go in any direction other than the one propagated by the actual faith of that community, he added.
Speaking in the context of Jammu and Kashmir, Vohra said that a myth that has been created, disseminated, and propagated by the radicalists in the valley – that the Government of India functions with the ulterior motive of suppressing the Muslim identity in Kashmir – has aided the spread of radical ideas in the valley. This entire process is methodically eroding the historical and traditional values of the Kashmiri people, he noted.
Highlighting the dangers of ethnic divisions and the need for ethnic cleansing, Vohra pointed out that the old world religious values have changed over the years, leading to the gradual destruction of intercommunity relations. Social harmony has been eroded by the spread of extremist philosophies, he noted.
Explaining how social media has aided radical ideas to spread their tentacles, the Governor said that social media offers terrorists and extremists the capability to communicate, collaborate and convince, thereby playing an increasingly prominent role in radicalisation, extremism, and terrorism.
Earlier, in his welcome address, Director General, IDSA, Jayant Prasad, said that terrorism and radicalism cannot be uprooted by kinetic or coercive methods alone. A counter-terrorism policy has to go beyond the use of force to apprehend, disrupt, and eliminate terrorist cells and groups. It must also use preventive means to alter the circumstances in which terrorism and radicalism grow, he said.
While Vohra and Prasad have their points, the situation in J&K is a result of decades of flawed policies and soft response of New Delhi and pro-separatist/pro-Pakistan approach of various State governments in Srinagar. It is best reflected in the burning and gutting of as many as 30 schools.
There is no hope for peace in the Kashmir Valley, till separatists are not arrested and placed in jails outside J&K. Also, their wide network must be neutralized. The same social media that Pakistan and the separatists cashed in on for radicalisation and all other media as well as school history/social studies syllabus must be used to make Kashmiris aware of what is happening to their brethren in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and to the Balochis in Balochistan at the hands of Pakistan’s military, to convince them that both independence or joining Pakistan is going to be suicidal. Schools must be effectively protected against organized vandalism and ensured that they are running smoothly. Kashmiris in 1947-48 had tried to fight the invaders. Kashmiri children who have been visiting various parts of India through tours organized by the Army and Border Security Force have realized the potential of what India offers by way of opportunities. It is time to meaningfully and relentlessly implement such measures.