In this part, we analyze Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad’s claim that Muslims of Bharat have shown little inclination towards Islamist terror which is sweeping across the world, and that the alleged ‘Rising Intolerance’ fueled by comments of Hindu leaders is partly responsible for the current unrest in Kashmir.
Azad’s complete speech in RS can be seen below –
Ghulam Nabi Azad: Bharat has the second largest Muslim population in the world, after Indonesia, and arguably the largest number of ‘practicing Muslims’ in the world. It is a matter of pride for all of us that only a handful of Indian Muslims, around 12 – a negligible figure – have joined IS (Islamic State). Can we have a bigger proof of patriotism of Indian Muslims, Kashmiri Muslims? It is a matter of pride that many Muslim organizations in India have issued fatwas against IS.
Despite this, the atmosphere which has been created over the last 18 months in the country, chiefly due to statements of the Sangh parivar leaders is creating divisions in society. This has an impact on Kashmir too. Kashmiri students face discrimination in educational institutions in the rest of the country on alleged ‘security grounds’, which leads them to question if they belong to the country.
I have never seen Zakir Naik or his sermons – you (HM Rajnath) have said he will be inquired into. But why don’t we also inquire those (Sadhvi Prachi) who offer Rs 50 lakhs for Naik’s head? Shouldn’t those who make such statements go to jail? It is these types of one-sided inquiries which create resentment in Kashmir.
Bharat today ranks 6th on the Global Terrorism Index, with Islamist terror in J&K and the rest of Bharat accounting for 24% of the total terror incidents in Bharat between 1972-2014 (Maoist and North-East insurgencies being the other two major terror contributors), as this analysis of the Global Terrorism Database (GTD) maintained by the US-based National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) shows.
In many ways, Bharat is a laboratory for global jihadi forces – the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts was the first instance anywhere in the world of multiple co-ordinated bomb blasts on a city, and the 26/11 attacks provided the blueprint for armed suicide attackers laying siege to an entire city. Almost every major city of Bharat has suffered from Islamist terror attacks – Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengaluru, Coimbatore, Patna, Kolkata, Pune, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Lucknow, Varanasi, Bhopal..the list is endless. Even our parliament was attacked by jihadis on 13 Dec 2001. This list on SATP (South Asia Terrorism Portal) lists the various Islamist terror attacks outside of J&K that have occurred in Bharat from 2000-16.
Islamist terror has taken strong roots across Bharat. Terror organizations like SIMI (formed in Aligarh, UP), Indian Mujahedeen (founded by Karnataka based Bhatkal brothers), Al-Ummah (Tamil Nadu) are entirely homegrown. Terror cells with links to global terror orgs like LeT (Lashkar-e-Tayeba), JMB (Jama’at ul Mujahideen Bangladesh) etc. exist across the nation – in the North, South, East and West.
Coming to IS (Islamic State) – as per intelligence figures from Dec 2015, 23 Bharatiyas were fighting for IS in Syria/Iraq. In Jan, 4 more were arrested in Syria before they could join IS. In April, Minister of State for Home Affairs told the Rajya Sabha that NIA has arrested 25 IS cadres while police in different states have so far arrested 24 people. Subsequently, another IS module was busted by NIA in Hyderabad where 5 people were arrested. And recently 21 youngsters from Kerala went missing and are suspected to have joined IS. So at this point, the official number for Muslims from Bharat who have actually joined/tried to join IS is atleast 102. And this count does not include cases like the 15 Hyderabad engineering students who wanted to join IS, but were stopped by police, counseled and released to their parents.
Latest estimates indicate that 27,000 foreign fighters from around the globe have joined IS and are fighting in Iraq/Syria. While the number of IS cadre from Bharat looks small in comparison, it is pertinent to note that the focus for IS terror recruitment has been Middle East, Europe and North Africa thus far. They are now turning their attention to Bharat – IS released its first propaganda video directly targeting Bharat two months back; the message: “Accept Islam, Pay Jiziya, or get Slaughtered”. The deep roots of Islamist extremism in Bharat, the rising influence of Wahabbi/Salafi preachers, and the increasing penetration of the sophisticated IS social media propaganda machine should cause sleepless nights for our intelligence agencies.
We should not be lulled into a false sense of complacency that IS is not getting much traction in Bharat on account of the relatively low number of Bharatiya Muslims that have joined the terror group. The threat to Bharat from jihadi terror (IS and otherwise) is real. If our cities have managed to escape major terror attacks in the last 2 years, credit for that must go to NSA Ajit Doval and intelligence agencies who have busted terror modules before they could strike. Being a Muslim, surely Mr. Azad knows about the emotional pull that the idea of an Islamic Caliphate (like what IS advertises) has on Muslims across the world – the Khilafat movement in 1920s mobilized Muslims across Bharat and triggered a hijra (religious migration) to Turkey. We have to be extremely careful that history does not repeat itself, especially given that IS’ stated goal is establishing a caliphate in Bharat itself.
What is driving the Kashmir unrest?
The ‘Rising Intolerance‘ narrative built on the back of random incidents like Mohammed Akhlak’s tragic lynching in Samajwadi Party ruled UP, the fake ‘Church Attacks’ before the Delhi state elections, gang rape of a nun in West Bengal which was blamed on Hindu extremists but later turned out to be Bangladeshi Muslims, etc. is utterly baseless. Loose statements of some Hindu leaders, however disconnected they might be from the Central Government, are repeated ad-nauseam by our left-liberal media, while Congress is never asked to explain its senior leaders like Digvijay Singh endorsing a book which claims 26/11 attack was an RSS conspiracy, or Rahul Gandhi’s comment that Hindu groups pose a bigger threat to Bharat than Islamist terror organizations like LeT. Coming to the beef ‘controversy’, beef has long been banned in 24 out of 29 states of Bharat – this is not a new phenomenon. Why are seasoned politicians like yourself allowing Kashmiris to fall prey to the propaganda that the NDA Government has unleashed a reign of terror on Muslims?
Mr. Azad, if Kashmiri students carry out programs on college campuses in Delhi against the “judicial killing” of convicted Kashmiri terrorists like Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhat, to protest against the “Brahmanical collective conscience of Bharat”, and raise slogans like ‘Bharat ki barbaadi tak jung chalegi’ (war will continue till Bharat is destroyed), do you really expect the rest of the country to be a mute spectator? And if Kashmiri students studying in colleges across the country face the ire of locals when they cheer a Pakistan victory over Bharat in a cricket match, why don’t you advice the Kashmiri students to be mindful of national sensibilities, the way NIT Srinagar outstation students were told they couldn’t wave the tiranga?
The alienation of the Kashmiri Muslims is due to their separation from the national mainstream, for which Article 370 is chiefly responsible. Article 370 was introduced by Nehru as part of a deal with Sheikh Abdullah (and despite Sardar Patel’s grave misgivings) as a temporary provision. Detailed analysis of why this Article 370 is the biggest impediment to the full integration of J&K state into Union of Bharat can be read here. Sadly, all parties in Bharat today stand guilty of not even debating revocation of Article 370. Moreover, any objective analyst will tell you that the Kashmir valley today is in the grip of Islamist radicals. This extremist Islamist ideology is fueling the unrest in Kashmir, and not any alleged discrimination faced by Muslims/Kashmiris in Bharat.
Investigations have shown that Zakir Naik’s sermons have inspired the Dhaka terror attack, and radicalization of Hyderabad & Kerala youth to join IS. Naik is an influential televangelist who runs a satellite channel “Peace TV” which reaches around 400 million global viewers. He has defended terrorists like Osama Bin Laden, claimed 9/11 could be an ‘inside job’ by CIA/Mossad, subtly mocks other religions (especially Hindu Dharma), justifies death penalty for Muslim apostates, justifies sex slavery, and holds a host of other controversial positions. He is banned from entering the UK. Comparing Naik to Sadhvi Prachi is again a false equivalence. Sadhvi Prachi’s statement is condemnable, but if she deserves to be compared with anyone, it is the dozens of Islamic clerics who called for Kamlesh Tiwari to be beheaded for his alleged disparaging remarks against the prophet of Islam.
CONCLUSION: Ghulam Nabi Azad is woefully off the mark about going into celebratory mode at so-called immunity of Bharatiya Muslims from the global jihad. He is playing politics while giving reasons for the unrest in Kashmir. Such lies from a seasoned, mainstream politician do not augur well for the nation.
In the next part, we will analyze Mr. Azad’s statements holding BJP’s decision to form a coalition Government with PDP as the reason for growing mistrust in Kashmiris, and how the loving, inclusive Kashmiri Muslims are being pushed over the edge by the communal, Islamophbic debates on certain Delhi TV channels.