Still no takers for ‘Jihad’ in Kashmir

While the report that Al Qaeda has formed a Kashmir cell has sent alarm bells ringing, there are very few militants who have shown much enthusiasm so far

Photo by Waseem Andrabi/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Waseem Andrabi/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Gulzar Bhat

Both ‘separatist leaders’ as well as political observers in the Kashmir Valley have been quick to dismiss a report in The Guardian that Islamic terrorist organization Al Qaeda had set up a separate cell for Kashmir.

The report published on Thursday caused consternation among security agencies engaged in anti-insurgency operations in the state. The Guardian quoted Al Qaeda’s propaganda channel having named Zakir Musa, a Kashmiri militant who parted ways with Hizbul Mujahideen, as the leader of its Kashmir cell.

While Jammu and Kashmir Police chief SP Vaid went on record to say that police was investigating reports, separatist leaders— Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik—in a joint statement claimed that the Kashmiri movement had nothing to do with any global jihadi organisation. They accused Indian government agencies to be behind such reports, designed to defame their movement.

Zakir Musa Bhat (22) headed the Hizbul after the killing of Burhan Wani in an encounter in South Kashmir in 2016. Musa in May 2017, broke away from Hizbul after releasing a video message on social media, in which he declared that there was no longer any room for nationalism or a separate state and that he would fight for the establishment of a Caliphate as distinct from a secular state.

An online Urdu portal of Al-Qaeda was then quick in hailing Musa for spurning nationalism and steering the movement in Kashmir towards establishing Islamic rule.

While most observers take solace from the fact that very few militants have joined the ranks of Zakir Musa, they also caution that unless the middle ground is restored soon and a dialogue initiated, more young men could drift towards him.

“I still doubt reports about Al-Qaeda constituting a separate cell for Kashmir but if it is true , some militants may well join Musa as his appeal is purely Islamic in nature” said Zahid Salam, a researcher who studies the impact of global Jihad on Kashmir.

Another political observer Shahnawaz Ahmad Mantoo sees the development as an inevitable fallout of the muscular policies followed by New Delhi and in reaction to the violence perpetrated by right wing elements against Muslims in various states of India.

“Absence of political dialogue, shrinking space for dissent and use of military machismo to curb popular sentiment are some of the reasons responsible for radical developments,’’ cautioned Mantoo.

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Google News, Instagram 

Join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines

Published: 30 Jul 2017, 1:23 PM