Ban on J&K separatist groups - a much needed step to check terror financing

Written By: Kulbir Krishan
Delhi, India Published: Apr 04, 2019, 10:31 AM(IST)

Yasin Malik. Photograph:( Zee News Network )

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Jamaat-e-Islami and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front have played a pivotal role in fanning militancy and terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir since 1988. 

Jamaat-e-Islami and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front have played a pivotal role in fanning militancy and terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir since 1988. 

The banning of the Jamaat-e-Islami, Jammu and Kashmir (JeI, JK) on February 28, followed by a similar proscription of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) led by Yaseen Malik on March 22, 2019, shows that the central government is serious about its crackdown on separatists.

Both organisations have played a pivotal role in fanning militancy and terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir since 1988. 

The JeI J&K, while promoting terrorist outfits like Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HuM), has also been trying to gain political influence by infiltrating into recognised political parties. 

There have been persistent allegations of the JeI J&K influencing the policies of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) headed by Mehbooba Mufti. While this may be a matter of debate, it is a fact that the JeI J&K’s areas of influence overlap with those of the PDP in south Kashmir.

The timing of the bans, at a time when elections to the Lok Sabha have been announced and those to the state assembly imminent, has led to both the PDP and the National Conference (NC) denouncing this action and indulging in competitive populism. 

However, the Central government should stay the course, and keep going after anti-national and subversive forces as well as their funding.

Both the JeI J&K and the JKLF have been banned for a period of five years. The ban is subject to strict judicial review at periodic intervals. At the present juncture, the ban is needed, particularly to investigate the terrorist financing of the JKLF and HuM from Pakistan and other sources. 

If proper investigation is conducted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) or the Enforcement Directorate (ED), it could significantly enhance the case for putting Pakistan on the FATF blacklist.

Initially it was the JKLF, which encouraged disaffected Kashmiri youth to cross the Line of Control (LoC) and undergo arms training from the Pakistani ISI. 

Yaseen Malik along with three others, Abdul Hamid Sheikh, Ashfaq Majeed Wani and Javed Ahmed Mir formed the so-called HAJY group, which was the core leadership of the JKLF.

The JKLF reached its peak in December 1989 when it kidnapped Rubaiya Sayeed, daughter of then Union Home Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed. This act of kidnapping an unmarried Muslim girl was considered un-Islamic and condemned by many, including the then Mirwaiz of Kashmir, Maulana Farooq. 

The JKLF was on the back foot and searching for a face saver when the Mufti lost his nerve and agreed to release five militants in exchange for his daughter. This unexpected triumph led to a wave of rejoicing in the entire Valley and further emboldened the JKLF. 

Pakistan’s ISI had used the JKLF to fan the flames of so-called “Azaadi”, but having served its purpose, restricted its arms supply and funding to the organisation while promoting a new terrorist outfit, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen or HuM, an offshoot of the JeI J&K.  

This became possible because the HuM was pro-Pakistan and wanted Jammu and Kashmir to become a part of that country. 

Traditionally, people of Kashmir have displayed true secularism and stood solidly by their faith in Kashmiriyat – a version of Islam that incorporated values of humanism and defended their composite syncretic culture and inclusive traditions, as propounded by Baba Nuruddin Wali of Charar-e-Sharif, the patron saint of Kashmir also called Nund Rishi by the Hindus and the mystic Shivite poetess Lal Ded.

It was this brand of Islam, which had kept Jinnah’s Two-Nation theory at bay. Today this brand of composite syncretic Islam is under attack from the JeI J&K and its ISI patrons. They have been trying to promote a Hanafi/ Salafi brand of puritan Islam, which considers many Kashmiri practices like the singing of prayers, worship at mazars or ziarats of Pirs and Fakirs as biddat (innovation) and tries to do away with them. 

The JeI J&K never had much of a following except for some pockets in south Kashmir. Although it was formed in 1952, the JeI J&K remained a fringe outfit till the mid 1970’s. 

It received a boost when General Zia ul Haq took over as the President of Pakistan and with the help of JeI Pakistan, started the process of Islamisation in his country.  

At this time, ample funds were allegedly made available to JeI J&K to propagate its brand of puritanical Islam. However, the JeI J&K suffered a serious setback in 1979 when it supported Gen Zia ul Haq’s decision to hang former Pakistan PM, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. JeI J&K members were attacked and their property destroyed by unruly mobs in the Valley. 

However flush with funds from Pakistan and Pan-Islamic sources, the JeI J&K contested 26 seats in the 1983 state Assembly Elections, but failed to open its account. These elections were universally acknowledged to be free and fair and brought Farooq Abdullah to power.

However, the alleged rigging of the 1987 elections led to militancy and by 1990 the Central Committee of the HuM declared itself to be “the sword arm of the JeI J&K.” 

While it is true that the JKLF (Yaseen faction) has been inactive of late and Yaseen Malik himself claims to have renounced violence, it did play a significant role in the rise of militancy and was allegedly responsible for the displacement of Kashmiri Pundits from the Kashmir Valley. 

Malik himself has been allegedly involved in serious cases of murder and kidnapping. It appears that the government is finally serious about bringing justice to the victims of violence by the JKLF and JeI J&K.

(This article was originally published on The DNA. Read the original article)

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL.)

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