The recent killings of people belonging to the minority Sikh and Kashmiri Pandit (KP) communities has seriously eroded the goodwill and faith that the majority community had painstakingly restored over three decades after the exodus of KPs in the 1990s.
By Farooq Wani,
In our childhood, elders used to say that the sky turns red whenever someone is murdered and we believed it. Since murder was a rare thing those days, so, when the sky did turn red, we would associate it to a killing somewhere far-far away from where we lived. However, if we were to tell our children about the ‘red-sky’ phenomenon as our parents had told us, they wouldn’t believe it. Not because they are more aware, but simply because if this was indeed true, then wouldn’t the skies over Kashmir Valley have been perpetually coloured in various hues of red for the last three decades?
Talking about the last three decades, the less said, the better. During this period, while the people of Kashmir have undergone humongous sufferings, militancy has permanently ‘maimed’ if not actually ‘murdered’ our social values and pluralistic culture. Consequently, the highest respect for human values and peaceful coexistence, which was at the heart of Kashmiri culture, seems to have become extinct or overwhelmed by arrogance and deceit. Today, while the skies over Kashmir may or may not turn red when innocents are murdered, its soil may well be gradually turning red due to unabated blood shedding.
The Quran clearly states that there’s no compulsion in religion and that “murdering an innocent person is equivalent to killing the entire human race”. Whenever Prophet Mohmmad (PBUH) sent his men to conquer any area, they were strictly instructed not to kill anyone who was unarmed or if the person belonged to a different faith. He also forbade religious persecution or vandalising religious shrines of other faiths.
It’s therefore very unfortunate that some people in Kashmir are violating tenets of Islam with impunity. However, the bigger tragedy is that both the ‘ulema’ (Muslim scholars having specialist knowledge of Islamic law and theology) and the ‘umma’ (community of Muslims bound together by ties of religion) in Kashmir remains a silent spectator to such forbidden acts.
Ever since militancy raised its ugly head in Kashmir, innocent people of various communities have been murdered and even though no one took responsibility for such killings, every Kashmiri knows who these “unknown gunmen” are- may not be by name, but definitely by the group to which they belong. ‘Gun culture’ in Kashmir has become a permanent feature and this is indeed very disturbing because many experts believe that after gaining entry, guns don’t vanish- it’s the people who do. Another big negative of the gun is that it promotes the ‘might is right’ culture, which in turn gives rise to crime and a host of other social evils.
The majority Muslim community in Kashmir has always stood by the minority communities and the widespread condemnation of the recent killings by both political parties and the Hurriyat bears testimony to the close bond that exists between religious communities in Kashmir. Attempts have been made in the past to vitiate communal harmony, but the people wisely refused to be used as pawns in this despicable game. Recent killings in Srinagar are the latest attempt to communalise Kashmir, which must once again be resisted by its people so that those with vested interests do not succeed in their nefarious designs.
While talking to the author, moderate Hurriyat leader Dr G M Hubbi said that “Violence has changed nothing in the political spectrum of Jammu and Kashmir, but only brought mayhem, miseries, economic disaster, academic breakdown, social disorder and bloodshed.” Adding that those targeting non-Muslims are just “traders who treat religion as merchandise to derive profit from,” Hubbi warned the people not to fall prey to such attempts specifically aimed at polarising communities on religious lines in Kashmir.
The recent killings of people belonging to the minority Sikh and Kashmiri Pandit (KP) communities has seriously eroded the goodwill and faith that the majority community had painstakingly restored over three decades after the exodus of KPs in the 1990s. Once again, the time has come for Kashmiris to reaffirm solidarity with each other, irrespective of their religion or faith so that those who think that they can divide us by senseless killing of innocent people of minority communities realise that their attempts will never succeed.
Lastly, besides instituting additional security measures to ensure safety of members belonging to minority communities, the government should also involve all sections of society and the public in highlighting the futility of violence and how killing of innocent people, and not even sparing women, is showing Kashmiris in a very poor light. Those behind these killings know that they can’t survive if the public goes against them and thus, in case all Kashmiris come together to condemn such wanton murders, there are bright chances that this despicable trend may come to an end.
(The author is Editor Brighter Kashmir, TV Commentator, Political Analyst and Columnist. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online.)