A group of masked young men stormed into the historical Jamia Masjid in Srinagar with ISIS flags and created a ruckus on Friday last. The incident occurred after the congregational prayers, when the mosque was nearly empty. The men were chased away by the devotees present. A video of the incident went viral on the social media the next day. The incident evoked strong condemnation from the joint hurriyat, Anjuman Auqaf Jamia Masjid and other organisations. The netizens also denounced the sacrilegious act. More importantly prominent militant outfits like Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Toiba also condemned the waving of ISIS flags in the grand mosque.
A spokesperson of UJC Syed Sadaqat Hussain in a statement issued here said, “There is no presence of Daaesh (ISIS) in Jammu and Kashmir, and those waving ISIS flags in Jamia Masjid are Indian agents.” Some incidents had happened earlier also which brought the ‘presence’ of ISIS in focus in Kashmir. In February year this, ISIS claimed to have killed a policeman in Srinagar and decamped with his service rifle. In November last year, IS claimed that one of its cadres Mughees Ahmad Mir, a resident of Srinagar’s Parimpora locality, was killed in encounter with police at Zakoora suburbs of the capital city. One police officer had also got killed in this encounter. But finally what gave credence to the presence of ISIS in Kashmir was the killing of Esa Fazli and his two other associates on March 12, this year at Hakoora village in Anantnag district. They were considered as the backbone of the group. The group’s four other cadres were killed on June 12 in Anantnag.
They included Dawood Sofi the deputy chief of the group as well. All these incidents demonstrate that ISIS is a reality in Kashmir. However, when viewed and analysed in proper context these are isolated incidents and devoid of general public support and sentiment. The mass condemnation of Jamia Masjid incident has shown that few people support or agree with the ideology of the Islamic State. It is a fact that ISIS or Al-Qaeda is an idea. These groups don’t need to come physically to set up their bases in any area. This is also equally true that a section of young-Muslim all over the world is influenced (rightly or wrongly) by this idea. But Kashmir is a different case. However a keen study would makes one believe that this idea has no social and political acceptability here. Even the extremist sections in the religious camp abhor the ISIS’s idea of Islam. Kashmir militancy is not born from any religious orientation. It is a politically driven thought that has affected the people of Jammu and Kashmir in general irrespective of their religious and political beliefs. In early 90s when thousands of young boys took to arms, the radicalization was altogether missing from the public and political narrative. “Azadi” was the only buzz one could hear.
The militancy was, in fact, spearheaded by Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), which by its political and religious philosophy is secular. Hizbu lMujahideen, the pan Islamic religious group, also never made it a matter of religious duty to pick up the arms. So is it true for other militant groups. “Hum Kiya Chahte Azadi” has remained popular slogan during all the years of trouble and turmoil. The case in all probabilities becomes more of political nature than religious one. Kashmiri militants have never stepped beyond their pronounced position of ‘fighting for right of self-determination’—the right acknowledged and accepted by the United States. It is perhaps against this backdrop that the United States or United Nations—despite India’s repeated efforts—could not impose ban on any Kashmiri militant group.