De-radicalisation Chief of Defence Staff Hit the Bull’s Eye
Gen Bipin Rawat, first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) of India, in a function ‘Raisina Dialogue’, expressed his anguish over the radicalization in the country, which has not spared even 10 to 12 years old children. He said: “It is happening from schools, universities, from religious places and sites.” He also implied that there are those who are amenable and some fully radicalized. He suggested that it is the latter category, which needs to be identified and de-radicalized in de-radicalization camps.
What Gen Rawat spoke was the basic truth. The tragedy is that it took such a long time for a senior professional military leader to acknowledge that the basic impetus behind jihadi proxy war in Kashmir and in rest of India is due to radicalization. Probably, if this had been acknowledged in the past, we may have saved many of the 45,000 martyrs in Kashmir. Probably, we would have also saved the massacre and exodus of five lacs Hindus from the Kashmir Valley in 1990. Probably, the entire security apparatus of the country would not have stood paralyzed. The entire array of weapon systems were reduced to merely metal pieces of various shapes and sizes, just as when Soviet Union was collapsing
The massacre and exodus of Hindus from the Valley was not unforeseen. After the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, it was common knowledge that the global jihadis are being re-funneled into the Valley by Pakistan. The stage for the arrival of global jihadis was set by none other than the then Home Minister of India, who conspired to get his daughter kidnapped by the jihadis, so as to release hard-core global jihadis and usher in global jihad into the Valley. It is also now a known fact that the jihadi elements in India and abroad were instrumental in appointment of this Home Minister by means of political blackmail.
Just as Pakistan has used jihadi radicalization as tool against India, China too believes that there are external forces responsible for radicalization of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang. In its White Paper, China says that hostile forces in and around China, especially terrorists, separatists, extremists have tried to split China by distorting history and facts. Reacting to the charges by Western Countries on the allegation of mistreatment of Uighur Muslims, the White Paper says: “The Uighur people adopted Islam not on their volition, but had it forced upon them by the religious wars and the ruling class”. This historical reality, which China has stressed upon in its White Paper holds a mirror to India as well, particularly Kashmir.
Exodus of Hindus from the Valley because of onslaught of Jihad has been a historically endemic phenomenon. It was during one of these exoduses that the Hindus carried their pain to Guru Teg Bahadur and sought his help. The Guru launched a counter-jihad in spiritual way and was beheaded by Aurangzeb.
Since the Soviet withdrawal in 1989 from Afghanistan, the mosques in Kashmir began to take religious-political shape. Gradually Barelvi Islam began to be replaced by Ahl-e-Hadith, moniker for Salafism and Wahabism. Attendance in annual fares at Sufi shrines began to decline rapidly. Ahl-e-Hadith which originated in Central Arabia advocates fundamentalist ways of Islam and rejects any local or regional influence. It played the key role in the separatist movement in Kashmir. There are nearly 7500 mosques and seminaries in Kashmir. The numbers of Ahl-e-Hadith mosques have doubled in last three decades. The Sufi – Hanafi Islam gradually lost its relevance, even though the majority of the mosques, some 6000, including 200 syncretic shrines, owe allegiance to this particular stream. These mosques and shrines are struggling for funds. On the other hand Ahl-e-Hadith mosques and seminaries are flush with funds and boast of most modern facilities and furnishings.
China has about 20 million Muslims. It has banned Arabic script as it finds it foreign to the Chinese culture. It has also ordered the removal of Eastern style domes. The reclaiming of Chinese culture is not only confined to language and architecture, but also food stalls, where Halal meat shops are banned. More than a dozen countries worldwide have banned the burqa, i.e. Austria, Denmark, France, Belgium, Tajikistan, Latvia, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Gabon, the Netherlands, China and Sri Lanka.It may be underscored that Tajikistan is a Muslim majority country and has banned Islamic beard as well, as it maintains that it is contrary to the Tajik culture. In 2011, France banned the offering of Namaz on the streets. Therefore, all countries are engaged in de-radicalization in their own ways.
The war in Afghanistan was billed as war between Communism and Islam. Saudi Arabia and the US assembled a jihadi machine, which spelt the defeat and demise of Soviet Union. Cold War imperatives apart, for Saudi Arabia, it was critical to pull down the hero status of Shia Iran in the Islamic World after the Iranian Revolution. Hence it embarked on propagation of Wahabi Islam at a feverish pitch across the world. There was no dearth of money. Petro Dollars at that time was raining on the country. Between 1979 and 2017, Saudi Arabia spent nearly $70 billion to finance construction of Wahabi mosque and madrasas, as also on Wahabi literature across the world. One significant success of Wahabism was the creation of Kosovo. During 90s, Bill Clinton fully backed Muslims in Serbia to jettison from the country. Enormous sums of money were spent on proliferation, promotion of Wahabism, and indoctrination through Wahabi literature. In 2008, Kosovo became an independent country and in that tiny country the Saudis sponsored 240 mosques. The trajectory of Wahabism in Kosovo and Kashmir coincides.
Jihadi radicalization is not only a Kashmir phenomenon, but traverses through to the southern extremity in Kerala. Rather it has acquired an acute proportion. This jihadi threat radiating from Kerala into other parts of South India or even Sri Lanka, is a pernicious threat to say the least ,especially in terms of global reach and ‘Samudri jihad’, i.e. ‘maritime jihadi terrorism’. Of the 120 odd Indians who joined the ISIS, a sizeable chunk is from Kerala. Presently three distinct ISIS networks are operational in the state, i.e. Kasargod module, Kannur module and Omar al-Hindi module. Kasargod module feeds jihadis in Afghanistan, while Syria receives jihadis from Kannur module. The Omar al-Hindi module is engaged in spreading ISIS network throughout India and considers itself as the foreign (vilayat) extension of ISIS.
Very recently, the Syria Malabar Church of Kerala in its 28th Synod lamented that Christian girls are being forcibly converted by ISIS modules in Kerala as part of ‘love jihad’ campaign, and they are being taken to Syria and Afghanistan to act as sex slaves. It maintains that in the recent times out of 21 youth, who joined ISIS from Kerala more than half were, converted Christians. The Church has decided to sensitize its adherents against this deadly assault by the jihadis at Sunday schools. It has decided to combat ‘love jihad’ from every possible forum. Incidentally, Zakir Naik maintains that sex slaves are sanctioned by Islam. It is the same Zakir Naik, who the Malaysian Prime Minister Mahatir Mohammad holds in great respect.
In Afghanistan, Pakistan and Kashmir the jihadis are indoctrinated that on attaining jihadi martyrdom they will receive a gift of 72 virgins. Such imaginary allurements of heaven can only have beastly manifestations on the earth, which is being witnessed in Afghanistan, in ISIS, in parts of Pakistan , even Kashmir Valley has not been spared.
Taking a leaf out of history, in 711 AD when Muslim forces attacked Spain, they were spurred by the commander, Tariq ibn Ziyad with the promise of wealth and women, i.e. ‘spoils of war’ and ‘captives of right hand’ i.e. sex slaves, both sanctified by the scriptures. He exhorted: “You have heard that in this country there are a large number of ravishingly beautiful Greek maidens, their graceful forms are draped in sumptuous gowns on which gleam pearls, coral, and purest gold, and they live in the palaces of royal kings… The spoils will belong to yourselves”. Just a year later, in 712 AD Muhammad bin Qasim attacked Sindh in India and carried with him more than 1000 slaves including the two daughters of Raja Dahir.
In 1991 during the exodus of Hindus from the Valley, the Mosques blared threats that only men must run for their lives and leave behind their wives and daughters. The irony is that this jihadi threat from places of worship was not by Arabs but by fellow Kashmiris, progeny of common Hindu ancestors.
Radicalization is a vital facet of Pakistan’s proxy war against India. Jihadi indoctrination is the tool for radicalization, which is done in the Mosques, madrasas and in some universities as the CDS observed. In his book, Pathway to Pakistan, Chaudhry Khaliquzzaman, wrote that without the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), Pakistan would not have been possible. Going by the anti-India and anti-Hindu slogans in the CAA protests at the AMU, one wonders if much has changed.
Without a conducive society, there can be no radicalization and without radicalization there can be no jihadi crop to harvest. Radicalization is nothing new in India. 100 years ago, the Khilafat Movement or more appropriately the Caliphate Movement was a demonstration of jihadi radicalization in India and 28 years later the partition of India would not have taken place without radicalization. During these 28 years, there were no attempts to deradicalize the society even after the Caliphate in Turkey withered. There were no attempts of deradicalization because the principal characters between 1919 and 1947 were the same. Therefore the present CAA protests also pose the same challenge to this country. Nothing has changed.
Only antidote to radicalization is the establishment of supremacy of regional culture. For global jihad to prevail – Kashmiriyat was killed. For global jihad to prevail – Malayali culture is being killed.
In October 2019, ATM Ashrul Islam was hanged in Bangladesh for his crimes against Bangladeshis during the 1971 war. He was a member of the Al-Badr brigade of Jamat-e-Islami and had reportedly killed 1400 Bangladeshis. Six others belonging to the JeI Bangladesh have also been hanged. It was the revenge of Bengali culture over West Pakistan sponsored variety of Islam. Islam created Pakistan and Bengali culture created Bangladesh.
It should be remembered that ultimately regional culture emerges the victor because it has far too many assets compared to religious faith or to say Mazhab. A regional culture has language, music, musical grammar, architecture, science, systems of medicine, history and mythology. Mazhab has none.
By RSN Singh
(The author is a former military intelligence officer who later served in the Research and Analysis Wing, or RAW.)