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Following the partition of India in the year 1947, Jamat-e-Islami, an Islamic organization, split into three independent organizations in India, Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir. In Jammu and Kashmir, however for historical and political reasons, it has been supportive of Security Council resolutions for resolving the dispute between India and Pakistan and a step down, through tripartite talks that includes the people of the state being the main stakeholders in the dispute. This apart, the organization is admittedly engaged in welfare activities like running educational institutions, orphanages and other voluntary activities particularly during any catastrophe or any vis major for the past three quarters of a century and all its activities are overt. It has also maintained a respectable distance from Huriyat and obviously from militancy and violence. It has in fact even earned a disrepute for having participated in elections to the state assembly and the parliament. But later has confined itself to preaching and focusing on the welfare activities. If it were not so, voices including the main stream political parties would not be critical of the ban on the organization, large scale arrests and confiscation of properties, assets and accounts belonging to its members. Ban on this organization is not new to it and has suffered it in the past too, less for the reason of its activities and more of its emergence being perceived as threat to the political powers of the time. But whenever banned, the repercussions have been negative as its socio-religious service which it has a right under the law and the constitution to indulge in.


Repeated bans have only added to the miseries not only of its members or sympathizers but of the scores of individuals and their families employed in their various institutions. Again the fresh ban also does not seem to be for any noble purpose if the timing of the ban is any denominator. The ban has been imposed after the Pulwama incident that brought the government of India under immense pressure at a critical time when the parliamentary elections are round the corner. So without going into the dynamics of the Pulwama attack and the events that followed and discussions widely seeking answers to a variety of questions, one cannot help to draw one’s own conclusions about the intentions behind the JI ban. It appears that the party in power in center primarily having failed to deliver on any front and also now having been subjected to the criticism at a crucial juncture of elections, needed something to mollify the volatile public opinion, JI was picked as a sacrificial animal to serve a dual purpose. One that the government of India was acting post Pulwama and remained tough in J and K and secondly to convert its effects into election gains by crying wolf. The ban undoubtedly is not going to serve any worthwhile purpose in the direction of Indian national interest and on the contrary the ban may fuel the discontent adding to the void between the state and New Delhi. The ban will definitely shrink the space for any peaceful and lawful activity or political dissent. We have the experience of any attempt aimed at shrinking space for normal and lawful behaviour in the socio-political life of the state in the past has not paid well and has served a negative purpose. Shrinking of space for example has given us Yasin Malik, Syed Sallahudin and likes of them. The ban instead of achieving any objective remains purely an attempt to further defile the atmosphere in the state through sly tactics and to sell it to the nation of one and a half billion people. It demonstrates nothing more than the hawkish policy that New Delhi has been pursuing over the years without any fruits either for the government of India or the people of the state except that with every passing day these failing policies are worsening the situation for all the stakeholders. This time it is more glaring, preposterous and myopic. The BJP seems to be kicking against the prick and bat a thousand keeping politics above the nation. It makes one really sad living in a society one like this and breathing the same air that is polluted and suffocating and those in power instead of mitigating the human miseries visit with more of them and taking away the smiles from the people, playing with the future and the development of generations, creating conditions of depression and despair guided by short term and vested interest. It is, therefore, necessary to introspect and review the policies towards the state by accepting the ground realities. Kneejerk reactions, ostrich behaviour and self-deceit has always caused a greater harm than serving any objective. The ongoing ban on JI is also an extension of continued lack of grasp of psyche of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, failure of policies and a desperate act.

(A leading lawyer and eminent poet, author can be reached at: [email protected])