Sunday, July 23, 2017

Plural India v/s polarized India: Attack on Pilgrims and after the attack

Syyed Mansoor Agha
After Hafiz Junaid’s murder on 22nd June, a day before Eidul-fit’r (24th June) by a hate-terror-mob of Hindu chauvinists in NCR, killing of seven Amarnath pilgrims in Annantnag on 10th July, has shaken the conscious of plural India. The two cases are special because people of all faiths rose above the default lines of region and religion to condemn the murders. After Annantnag incident some anti-social elements in the disguise of Hindutva faithful acted to vitiate the atmosphere and spread communal venom, but were pushed on back-foot thanks to the instant anti-violence voices raised by the individuals and organizations especially from Muslims community, the soft target of hard core anti-Indian-ness elements. They use every occasion to polarize the society for political benefit.
UHM Salutes the Kashmiris
Rohid E Devid wrote in TOI, “The Muslim community in the state has condemned the attack. They have come out with placards saying this is an attack on humanity. Islam is not for what has happened. Such militants are defaming Islam.” Honorable UHM Rajnath Singh took notice of these all-round condemnations and gracefully acknowledged the voice of Kashmir in no little words. He said,” I salute, I salute, the people of Kashmir as all sections of society have condemned the attack. It shows the spirit of Kashmiriyat is very much alive,” he told reporters. Singh described the attack on Amarnath pilgrims as very “unfortunate and painful.”
We wish, what UHM saw, may also be visible to others. See how the Muslims reacted in Kashmir and all over the India.
The Hurriyat Leaders: The Hurriyat leaders univocally condemned the violence and hailed the people of the Valley for showing their deep resentment against the killing of the pilgrims. Indian Express reported.
The joint statement issued by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and JKLF chief Yasin Malik said, "The protests over this ghastly act and the participation in of all segments of society is heartening."  It is highly commendable that "the people of the Kashmir have retained their humanitarian values and their belief in the great Kashmir ethos is intact," the statement said.
The leaders said, “This incident goes against the very grain of Kashmiri ethos. The Yarta has been going on peacefully for years and is a part of our yearly rhythm and will remain so. Our heart goes out to the families of the bereaved and we express our heartfelt condolences to them.”
They said. “this should serve as an eye-opener to those who encourage polarisation as a political tool and leave no stone unturned to demonize the people and crush them by use of force for their just political aspirations that have a historical and democratic bases."
"All bloodshed on all sides is uncalled for, unfortunate and painful and should stop. That can be happen only when the reality of Kashmir (issue) is accepted and ways and means of resolving the dispute addressed by the Indian State," the leaders declared which stunned many.
Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who is identified as “hardliner” for his strong views on Kashmir issue, said in a heartening denunciation of the act, “the God would never forgive the killers of innocents.” “Human lives are precious and Yatris are our guests.” He made it clear, "We have no animosity with India, nor do we nurture any enmity with their faith." He also demanded in a separate statement (12 July) an impartial probe into the killing of Yatris.
Jama’at-e-Islami J & K which has a separate entity from JIHind, condemned the attack and said; “We express deep concern over the killing and injuring innocent Hindu Yatris.” The statement further adds: “It is an act of cowardice and not justifiable from any angle and as such is condemned.” “The JI J&K expresses solidarity with all the bereaved families.”
Mufti Bashir-ud-din: A known religious figure also condemned the killings. “Kashmiris share grief of the bereaved families” and pray for courage to them to bear the loss of their loved ones.”
Similar sentiments were expressed by main-stream political leaders:
Mrs. Mehbooba Mufti, the C.M. of J&K rushed immediately to the incident site and spent whole night looking after the rescue work. She expressed her anguish, “It is an assault on our values and traditions. I have no words to condemn this, hope those involved will be punished soon.” She said, “Yatris are esteemed guests of Kashmir and perpetrators of this crime have done a death blow to the ethos and culture of the state.” “It is a gruesome attack not only on unsuspecting guests but a brazen attack on Kashmir and Kashmiriyat and all of us shall have to rise against this scourge of violence, sooner the better,” she said.
“I salute the people of the country for being patient,” the chief minister said, adding “the militants failed in their motive to pit people against each other and provoke communal riots.”
The Deputy C.M. Nirmal Singh: Mr. Singh also congratulated the people of Kashmir “for the kind of resilience and discipline they have maintained over the past 25 years”. He expressed his anguish laced with a warning, “Those attacking innocent people won’t be spared.” Without minsing words he accepted lapses in the security arrangements as the bus full of Yatris was traveling without mendatory police escort. It crossed police Nakas without being checked. 
Naeem Akhter: The J&K cabinet minister Akhtar called the attack a dastardly act. He termed the attack a “dark patch in the history of Kashmir.”
Ghulam Nabi Azad, former C.M. and leader of the opposition in RS termed the attack as "unfortunate", and said the militants “will have to pay through their nose.” “Our culture Kashmiriyat does not permit to kill people on pilgrimage... People born in Kashmir, even militants, will not commit such a crime,” Azad said.
Omar Abdullah, also a former C.M. tweeted “Such an attack cannot be condemned in words. The one thing we had all feared this year during the Yarta, in spite of recent successes against militants and unprecedented force presence.”
Dr. Farooq Abdullah, ex. C.M and President of opposition National Conference (NC) apologised to people for the attack on Yatris, saying those “who fired upon innocents were not Muslims”.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq: The unfortunate news deeply saddened the people and the leaders of Kashmir and we strongly condemn it. To us … the pilgrims have and will always be respected guests.
Mr. Shabbir Ahmad Shah: Chairman, Democratic Freedom Party, condemned the killings. “The incident is a conspiracy to defame Kashmiris. I demand an impartial inquiry into the killings,” he said.
M Y Tarigami: Senior CPI (M) leader termed the attack as “barbaric” and “a setback to ethos of Kashmir.” “The attack is against the interest of people of Kashmir”: he said.
Mr. Zafar Akbar Bhat: Chairman of Salvation Movement condemned the killings and said, “We express our heartfelt solidarity with the bereaved families”.
Muslim India disapproved the violence:
The same voice of condemnation and aguish was instantly heard from the community-leaders, intelligentsia and Muslim masses all over the country. The vernacular media is full of edits, comments, articles and statements of criticizing the attack.
Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH): Muhammad Salim Engineer, Gen. Sec. of JIHind condemned the attack and urged the government to find and punish the perpetrators of this heinous crime. He said: “we are appalled by the manner in which pilgrims were gunned down while travelling in a bus and we condemn this act unequivocally. …. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families of all the victims and deepest sympathies with the injured.” (Full statement on page…)
AIMMM: Mr. Navaid Hamid, President of the All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat (AIMMM), the consultative forum of Muslim organizations, institutions eminent personalities, termed the incident as heinous crime. “Condemn in strongest words the attack on pilgrims in J&K. Heart goes to grieved families”, he said.
Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind: The Gen. Sec. Maulana Mahmood Madani said “The attack on yatris has caused great pain to us. We condemn this cowardly terrorist attack and express our deep condolences to the families of the dead and prayers for injured.” He further said that such kind of terrorist attacks have nothing to do with any religion. He asserted that “Islam prohibits targeting women and worshippers even during the course of war.”
Dr. Zafarul-Islam Khan: Two times President of AIMMM and just appointed Chairman of Delhi State Minority Commission, Dr. Khan has strongly condemned this “barbarous attack” and has called on the authorities to nab the criminals and punish them according to the law. He said this attack goes against the assurances that Amarnath yatra will be safe. The black sheep be isolated.
JIHind Chattisgarh: Mr. Mubin Khan, Secretary of State JIHind said “it was an extremely ghastly and inhuman incident. We condemn in the strongest possible words. The Jamaat urges the central and the J&K government to find out the persons really responsible for and punish them severely.”
Dr. M. K. Sherwani, Adv: Chairman of the Lucknow-based All India Muslim Forum, said, “Such heinous crimes must invoke public outrage from every corner, irrespective of politics, faith, caste and creed. These horrendous tragedies must offer the nation an opportunity to … stand up as a unified entity against the enemies of humanity.”
Dr. Mohd. Manzoor Alam: In a hard hitting statement Gen. Sec. of All India Milli Council, condemned the perpetrators of the heinous crime. He demanded to bring the criminals to the book.
A. Hameed Naumani: Secretary of AIMMM and General Secretary of United Morcha exhorted the right thinking sections of the society to stand united against the violence. He said, attackers killed women which a great sin Islam even during war. He expressed solidarity with the victims.
Abdul Rashid Agwan: President AIMMM, Delhi State, Head of Universal Knowledge Trust expressed shock and felt it is deep rooted conspiracy to polarize India. He also led a protest campaign on social media at the incident.
Mohd Atiq: Gen. Sec. of Muslim Educational and Welfare Society Marwar, Jodhpur said he was deeply shocked of the incident as such incidents divert the attention and efforts from constructive and positive activities. It is the duty of every true Indian citizen to keep the atmosphere calm and defeat the enemies of communal harmony and national progress.
Protest in Mumbai: Muslim leaders and groups converged at Azad Maidan on Wednesday to stage an impressive protest with the hash-tag #NotInMyName in the same spirit that people had stepped out against the lynching in the name of cow protection. At the occasion Javed Anand noted columnist and social worker said, “We denounce all perpetrators of mob terror and bomb terror, irrespective of their religious affiliation," All-India Milli Council’s M.A. Khalid said, “The attack on innocent pilgrims is clearly to fuel fires of communalism. We denounce all attacks.” He further said, “we also salute the bus driver, Salim Shaikh, who showed extraordinary courage to save lives of around 50 Hindus." Zeenat Shaukat Ali, a noted Islamic scholar condemned the attack and stressed: "Islam rejects attacks on non-combatants. The fact that these were pilgrims makes the attack more heinous and inhuman."
Protest in Lucknow: Religious leaders of various communities organised a protest rally. The Islamic Centre of India, Darool Uloom Firangi Mahal, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen and All India Sunni Board participated in the protest. They held placards reading "we condemn attack on pilgrims", "It’s our responsibility to protect Ganga-Jamuni culture of the country". The Imam of Eidgah Khalid Rashid Farangi Mahali condemned the attack and appealed to Muslims to come forward to help the victims. Father Donald D'zouza, of the Catholic Diocese, Lucknow, said this was an attack on humanity and cannot be tolerated in any civil society. He said, “Those involved in the attacks cannot be termed as humans. Christ has termed attack on others as a crime and advocated brotherhood with people of all religions," he said. Representatives of Sikh, Jain and other communities also participated in the protest.
Protest in Ahmedabad: Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, Gujarat organized a rally near Lal Darwaja on Tuesday to condemn the attack on pilgrims and showed solidarity with the victims' families. Gyasuddin Shaikh, MLA, Dariyapur, former AMC leader of opposition Badruddin Shaikh, Ulema leader Mufti Abdul Kaiyyum and other Muslim leaders participated in the protest.
A number of city-based organizations also held protests across the city and observed silence for those killed in the attack. Religious leaders were unanimous in condemning the attack and demanded swift action against those responsible. They sought better security for the pilgrims.
Raza Academy Bomby: Several eminent Barelavi Muslim Clerics and Academics of the Raza Academy gathered outside Minara Masjid at Mohammad Ali Road on Tuesday and stage an impressive demonstration to condemn the attack on Amarnath pilgrims.
Long list:
The list of those who condemned is long. National leaders from President, to ordinary functionaries have issued condemnations. I quote a few.
PM Narendra Modi tweeted: Pained beyond words on the dastardly attack on peaceful Amarnath Yatris in J&K. The attack deserves strongest condemnation from everyone. My thoughts are with all those who lost their loved ones in the attack in J&K. My prayers with the injured. India will never get bogged down by such cowardly attacks & the evil designs of hate. I have spoken to the Governor and Chief Minister of J&K and assured all possible assistance required.”
Amit Shah: The BJP president said, “I have no words to express my deep pain on the killing of innocent pilgrims traveling to the holy shrine of Amarnath. It is a heinous act,” he said in a tweet.
“Cowards responsible for this barbaric act will not be spared. I have spoken to the BJP district president and MLC from Anantnag and asked our ‘karyakartas’ in Kashmir to help the pilgrims in need.  I pray for the families of those who have lost their lives and wish speedy recovery to the injured,” he said in a series of tweets.
Mr. Sonia Gandhi: The Congress president in a routine statement termed the attack as "a crime against humanity." She wanted the government “a thorough probe into any security lapses.” “The attack on the devotees is a crime against humanity. The entire nation is in shock,” she said in a statement.
Mr. Rahul Gandhi: VP of AICC replicated P.M. Modi’s sentiment by saying “India will never be intimidated by these terrorist cowards.” “I share the pain & anguish of families who lost loved ones in the terror attack on innocent Amarnath Yatris today,” he tweeted.
Sitaram Yechury: Strongly condemn this attack and send condolences to the families of the bereaved. He demand accountability from the BJP Govt. which has” mishandled the state, and has now led to the loss of innocent lives in Kashmir”. He reminded, “Last killing of pilgrims in terror attack was in 2000, under BJP-led NDA, it is now, again in 2017. How did the situation in Kashmir come to this?”
The Bandhs and hooligan: In contrast to Muslim reaction, the perpetrators of communal frenzy acted in a manner to create commotions in the people. The Bajrang Dal, VHP and likes called for bandh and tried to distrupt normal life. In Haryana, during the protest march the hooligans forced an Imam in Hisar to raise some slogans and slapped him. We leave it to our readers to judge who is true caretaker of “Indianans” who is false their slogans of “Nationalism”?
Concluding remark: This is an occasion to muster the courage to address the issues politically. In a democratic and federal system as India is, the center should desist from the craze to control all powers and render states as mere municipalities. Internal democracy without ifs and buts, and maximum autonomy for the units is the crux of federalism. The Instrument of Accession, executed on 26 October 1947 should be restored fully to make the Kashmir again Paradise on the Earth.
In the past, many “terror attacks” attributed to “Muslim Terrorists” were doings of others aimed to communalize the society. While investigating this case, this aspect should remain in mind especially when a person of U.P. named Sandip Sharma alias Aadil has been arrested in Kashmir as an operative of LeT.   

(Writer is a Civil Rights activist, based in New Delhi, works as a Journalist. email:, Phone: 9818678677)

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