Endangered Peace in Kashmir
By Adfar Shah
To the dismay of the country, Kashmir valley is again peace deficient and infamous Chalo’s (Now Khanyar Chalo) like slogans invented in the past summer unrests have reappeared due to the revered saint Dastgeer Sahab Shrine’s mysterious blaze in the heart of Srinagar. Who is after this blatant act and what actually happened, everybody seems clueless but suspicious at the moment. The awful incident coincided with the first day of yearly Amaranth Yatra, though it did not cast any visible effect on the Yatra as such. All the stake holders in the current matter, be they common protesters, both the Hurriyat factions, Mufti Mohamad Bashiruddin, who heads the Supreme Court of Shariah of Jammu and Kashmir, Seperatist S.A.S Geelani, Mutahida Ulema Ahl-e-Sunnat (MUAS), headed by Karwan-i-Islami patron Maulana G R Hami, and others have rejected any governmental probe in the said incident and demanded a probe under their supervision.
Both the Government and the J&K Muslim Waqf Board are shocked over this unprecedented calamity, which has again raised questions on the credibility of Muslim Waqf Board and the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah led government once again after facing tough times in previous summer unrest. Especially, the Waqf Board is being severely criticized for the lack of fire control gadgets and safety arrangements inside the famous and historical sacred shrines. Also people assert that Waqf Board is only interested in the collection of money from such pilgrimage sites without any satisfying arrangements of security and safety. That the area was without electricity when the devastating fire broke out in the holy Shrine discredits the short-circuit theory.
At such a doubtful juncture, certain things strike one’s mind: has the very shameful act been done simply to disrupt the valley’s peace again? Or is it a tactic to impact the flourishing tourism sector and the Yatra in the valley. Or has the brutal crime been committed to create communal tendencies and sectarian tensions to push the valley again to sadistic times. It is also apprehended, whether is it an act of the enemies of Sufi Islam who are pan-orthodox and reject Sufi ideology or shrine visiting, etc,. Or was it a natural accident and it is simply the staunch faith and attachment of the masses to the shrine, which prompts them to raise hue and cry, etc,. In short the questions are numberless but till date without any immediate or satisfying answers. However the fact remains that, it has once again revived the infamous Kanneh-Jung (stone pelting), attacking security personnel, city siege, curfews, movement restrictions, confrontations with local police and other security agencies, prevailing chaos, etc, which has now become a culture in this part of the world.
Again the main city of Srinagar is under heavy deployment of security forces, mainly police and CRPF to check any untoward incident and prevent any protests. The fact is, the security in such situations is very vulnerable and to cope with the immense pressure, is really a big deal. On one hand, the pressure and challenge of maintaining calm while on the other doing nothing violent or either defensive/repressive to maintain that calm. The fact remains that uncertain times and unprecedented incidents have been giving a tough time to the security agencies in Kashmir, the peace fragile zone where even an altercation between a local and a non-local can lead to a big mess and to a prolonged unrest as well. Kashmir has been through a violent phase from the mid-eighties when the armed struggle started and changed various colours of turbulence till date. However, one thing that remained constant and certain is the uncertainty over here. The uncertainty about peace and more importantly about the return of peace, about life and livelihood, etc,. One more thing which has had the upper hand in all circumstances is the prevailing fear among the masses, the fear of everyone. Furthermore, a created hiatus between the different religious communities of the valley be that Kashmiri Pandits, Sikhs, Muslims or others and more importantly now the emergence of a plethora of sects followed by sectarian hatred is the real matter of concern which has till date not been addressed at any level by any one.
It would be, however, pertinent to know whether the government’s announced probe through the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, breaks some ice or it leads to further confrontation of the religious organizations, Bar Association and common people against the government. Shall the masses continue to demand a public level commission of enquiry into the matter as suggested by bar council or shall it go with the idea of Grand Mufti who along with other religious leaders smells it a conspiracy and have warned about the unrest and agitation? Although the Waqf Board, controlling and managing more than 80 shrines in Kashmir is the centre of criticism these days for people question the very role of the Muslim Waqf Board which owns properties worth 2000 crores and an annual income of more than seven crores. Even at this moment of pain and mourning, opportunists are doing everything possible to gain access to people to grind their own axe and fulfill their own interests. The opposition wants to cling on to Shrine burning issue politics and thereby provoking people for its petty interests and so are some separatists, who were forced to make the quick retreat on the very first day of the incident from the place by the masses. Amidst this all, one thing can be said for sure that the Kashmiri’s have now learnt the art of assessing political opportunists, gimmickry and the vote bank political stunts by the so-called public leaders.
(Adfar Rashid Shah is a Doctoral Scholar of Sociology, at faculty of Social Sciences, Jamia Millia Islamia,New Delhi. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)