Every death in
the Kashmir valley is interpreted in myriad ways
- from murder, assassination, conspiracy, admonition to internal strife, depending
on who is expressing it and from where it is being expressed. Many, including
some of his critics, argue today that the Maulana has been martyred. However,
establishing his martyrdom raises three simple questions: by whom, for what purpose
and how many more will have to be ‘martyred’, before the Indians stand up as a
state, nation and people?
Meanwhile, how is
Maulana Shaukat Shah to be understood in the backdrop of his varied opinions
articulated in the recent years? As a leader of the Jamiat-e-Ahli Hadees, he remarked
on several religious issues; as a politico-religious being he tried to blend
religion and politics; as a personality he has been closely identified with
Yasin Malik; and recently he was dubbed as an Indian agent by a faction within
Kashmir, especially following the controversial fatwa statement - ‘stone
throwing by the youth is un-Islamic’.
Then, who really
was Maulana Shaukat Shah? The unfortunate truth about Kashmir
valley is that only an individual himself knows what he really believes in and
how far it is different from what he speaks in the public. It is possible that
perhaps the Maulana himself may not have known or foreseen - who would kill him
and for what reasons. Thus it is significant to reflect on what actually might
have caused his death.
possibility is that Maulana Shaukat Shah was killed because of an internal
conspiracy. A section in Kashmir believes that
the schism between Sufism and the puritanical versions is increasingly getting
violent. Jamiat-e-Ahli Hadith which the Maulana headed, is itself divided into
various factions and there were indictments about how the Maulana led the
movement since his take over in 1999. It is not a mere coincidence, that his
predecessor - Professor Mohammad Ramzan was also assassinated.
Second, it is
probable that the Maulana was assassinated given his perception being an Indian
agent. A section within Kashmir believes that
the Maulana was a part of the pro-independence movements since 2007 and had changed
his mind only after his arrest in 2008.
Third, it is likely
that the Maulana was assassinated as a warning signal to the moderates in the
separatist camp. The statement made by Hafeez Saeed, in a memorial meeting in Islamabad for the Maulana
is extremely important and needs further analysis in this regard. He was quoted
in the local news papers in Pakistan
stating - “We don’t believe in cricket diplomacy or any other backdoor channel
that the government adopts with India,”
and “Mujahideen (freedom fighters) are determined to continue their struggle
till the logical end of the Kashmir movement.”
What does the
above statement reflect? Is it the usual rhetoric or Hafiz Saeed making a statement
in memorial meeting of Maulana Showkat? Worse, is he highlighting what is
likely to be the Lashkar strategy vis-à-vis Kashmir?
killers may or may not be nabbed, but a clear pattern is emerging since the
1990s. Ever since the killing of the Mirwaiz in 1990 - Maulvi Mohammad Farooq,
there has been a series of assassinations of religious leaders, including Qazi
Nisar Ahmed’s elimination in 1994. If one has to expand this pattern to include
the assassinations of the separatist political leaders including Abdul Ghani
Lone (2002), one will observe that the moderate voices are being targeted. In
fact, the trend is becoming progressively self evident.
While the above
analysis may implicate the non-state actors led by the Lashkar as the main
culprits, the state cannot be totally absolved from these assassinations. Even if
there is a small chance for peace, the state is obligated to play a role
(perhaps an indirect one) in silencing the trouble-makers, most often by not
providing them enough space and scope to mobilize believers in violence. The
moderate voices in any conflict situation which speak for peace need to be
strengthened by expanding their constituency.
major actions have been taken by the union government in recent years which can
be construed as an effective strategy to strengthen the moderate voices. For New Delhi, the absence of
violence has meant establishment of peace. Since there has been less violence,
it has been assumed that normalcy has returned to the Kashmir
valley and hence there is no further need for action. Reduction in infiltration
along the LoC has been automatically taken to mean that terrorism has declined
civil society has also lacked initiative in eliminating this lack of concern.
It watches the entire process guardedly - protesting vociferously against whom
it can and remaining silent on the power-wielders. And the few who raise their
voices are silenced, most often brutally. The fact remains that Maulana Sahukat
was assassinated in April 2011. But it will be difficult to uncover the truth
behind this fact. It is hard to say how long this cycle will continue given the
current realities. And even more disconcerting to imagine how many more people
will die before the Indians wake up as a state, nation and society and say enough is enough.