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Editorial

Silence on lynching

The Kashmir Monitor

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The world’s largest democracy is having to cope with problems that would be deemed to belong to quite another time and clime. A major crime that has fuelled widespread fear and lynching in several parts of the country is child lifting. According to reports, more than 20 people have been lynched over the last two months on suspicion of child lifting, the latest being the killing of five men in Maharashtra’s Dhule district. The killing of two innocent persons in Karbi-Anglong last month on the mere suspicion of their being kidnappers of children is still fresh in public memory. We also have the case of two persons being lynched in Tripura on June 28.

What is beginning to cause legitimate fear in the minds of people is the kind of undesirable moral policing that has begun to play a major role in a land where the crime rate is alarmingly high and the number of policemen required to maintain law and order extremely small. This is kind of situation where the duties of the duly appointed police force can be forcibly taken over by a section of youths presuming to be competent to take over their duties. This is a development that must not be countenanced under any circumstances because we cannot permit a legally constituted force for the maintenance of law and order to be replaced by one where the incumbents choose themselves. What is somewhat amusing is that the Centre has had to ask the States and Union Territories to check mob lynching. The States and Union Territories have been asked to direct district administrations to identify vulnerable areas and conduct community outreach programmes for creating awareness and building confidence. This is a rather belated effort at controlling what should have been controlled years ago. There is a misplaced kind of importance attached to such directives. However, this is not in the least surprising, because more often than not people tend to be suspicious even of someone trying to help a child to cross a busy street.

It is worth to mention here that although there is less than a year for another general elections, lynching continue in the country unabated. Dalits and Muslims are being thrashed, harassed, beaten to death and, shamelessly, most of these incidents are being uploaded and circulated on whatsApp with impunity.

 

There is a need to discuss the continued horrors and the stony silence of ruling party and its organizations. The term ‘lynching’ supposedly originated during American Revolution with Colonel Charles Lynch a VA justice of the peace. Lynch ordered ‘extra-legal punishment’ for British Loyalists, hanging without a trial.

The ‘ photos ‘ of lynching reflect not only apathy of those photographing the incident but the ‘ sadistic celebration ‘ of the viewers at the site of the incident as well as those viewing on social media platforms like Facebook or YouTube. As Efe Igor in an article analysing lynching in America states (Modern cannibalism: Lynching Photography and politics of sight , posted 01-04-2015, www.conversationx.com) , discussing black suffering, ” …our viewing will make us voyeurs, fascinated as well as repulsed by black suffering, but ultimately blind to the system that made these images possible. The photographs of lynching divert our gaze from the problem, white supremacy and its legacy. “Similar is the case in India where Dalits, Muslims and women are lynched very frequently asserting upper caste Brahminical domination and supremacy.

Most lynching have some sort of planning in advance. The mob gathering takes place with spread of rumours through social media or from person to person. The incidents are usually motivated by fanatic right wingers and their groups. Though upper caste forces instigate the lynching, those involved may also belong to other castes. Commercial benefits and lucrative offers to vigilantes and lynching mobs also play crucial role in executing the incidents. While scores of people have been killed in the lynching, the silence of ruling party is telling. It raises doubts whether there is a tacit approval of the rulers. In the least, the lynching are both governmental depravity and a demoralised state of society which is being taken back to a time when India was synonymous with medieval barbarity”. The powers that be have eyes but see not: they have ears but hear not and have tongues but speak not. Their silence is sanction.

 


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Editorial

Shah Faesal’s political launch

The Kashmir Monitor

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Former IAS officer, Shah Faesal, finally came up with his own party. On Sunday, he announced the formation of Jammu and Kashmir Peoples’ Movement as his party at a public function in Srinagar. Around 3000 people, mostly driven from Kupwara district, attended the Shah’s party launch. The only known face accompanying Faesal was former JNU vice president and research scholar Shehla Rashid. Shah Faesal, typical to a standard politician, virtually promised moon to the people once he was voted to power. From resolution of Kashmir issue to restoring Silk Road, Shah Faesal promised to resolve all the issues pertaining to the people of the state. Shah Faesal resigned from government service in January to pursue political career. Initially, it was understood that he would join National Conference but ultimately formed his own party to give what he said “a new politics to the state has seen only miseries in the past 70 years”. It would be quite premature to comment on the future of Shah’s party but it is just another addition to existing political parties. Politics in Kashmir is a tightly controlled market. Opening in the market, no doubt, is free but the sustenance and rise is restricted. It would be quite premature to comment on the success or failure of Shah Faesal and his political venture but in the given political scenario, he could end up as yet another Babar Bader or Imran Rahi. People have already started questioning his intentions as what made him to join politics when he could have delivered better in his previous position. A common perception is that pro India political tribe is facing severe crisis of leadership. Omar Abdullah and Mahbooba, who were projected as future hope when they took plunge in politics, have bitterly failed, both, in and outside the government. When Omar Abdullah was appointed as chief minister of the state in 2009, some news channels addressed him as Barak Obama of Kashmir. The “iconic” image of both Omar and Mahbooba was blown into heaps by the wind in 2010 and 2016. To a many people, Shah Faesal has been brought in to fill the gap that is becoming wider with each passing day. 

Faesal is young and has influenced man a young minds when he qualified the prestigious IAS examination in 2009. He was projected as icon of Kashmiri youth. Many young minds were inspired by him and in the process got to the prestigious All India Civil Services. In 2016 when Kashmiri youth overwhelmingly hit streets in protest against the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, many media outlets in India tried to project Shah as the real icon of Kashmiri youth. Hoewever, the youth in Kashmir are on a rebellious path. Right from University scholars to school drop-outs, a rage of sorts is igniting the young minds to defiance. It is not going overboard to say that Burhan Wani, in recent years, came as inspiration. Though militancy in Jammu and Kashmir is around 30 year old but since 2002, it had started a gradual decline. And many areas in the valley, south Kashmir in particular, were declared as militant free. It was against this backdrop that 2008 assembly elections, despite Amarnath Land row, witnessed huge participation of people. The rise of Burhan Wani, however, gave a new direction to the entire political spectrum. Shah Faesal’s joining politics has to be seen in this context. Whatever his aims and objectives, Shah Faecal has an uphill task before him and there are many challenges that he has to face. Would he be able to deliver or not,  only time will say.

 
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Editorial

Christchurch terror strike

The Kashmir Monitor

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New Zealand is deemed as the most peaceful, quiet and secured land with utmost beauty. But on Friday a brute terror attack shook the country to its foundation. Forty-nine people were killed when a gun-wielding white terrorist attacked two mosques at Christchurch when Muslims were offering congregational Friday prayers. Dozens more were left wounded. The horrific events have left the country in mourning and shock. Muslims make up less than 1% of New Zealand’s population and the faith’s most prominent adherent is a rugby player. The attacker, an Australian by birth, proudly live streamed the video of the attack on his face book account. He offered a smile on his arrest by police. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern deserves all the appreciation for condemning the massacre as an act of terrorism. She called it the darkest hour in her country’s history. She also visited the families of the wounded and dead persons which in itself demonstrated the human values in her country are still supreme. But the reaction in other countries was not as strong as it demanded. In fact, an Australian MP justified the carnage of Muslims for their growing population in western countries. In UK, a Muslim man was beaten with a hammer and a batten outside a mosque in east London, hours after 49 people were killed in the terror attack on two mosques in New Zealand. The assaulters shouted abusive words with Islamophobic content as they drove past the mosque and called people attending Friday prayers as terrorists. From the US to France to Australia, Muslims are persistently vilified and attacked, while biases against them are normalized. It is only confirmation of the pernicious spread of Islamophobia spread after 9/11 terror attacks in the United States. Islamophobia or hate-Muslim ideology is undoubtedly real and on the rise and being propagated online. It has become mainstream in almost all the western countries, more particularly, in America, UK, Australia and Franc. The U S President Donald Trump is personally known for spreading bigotry through his hateful rhetoric. It is perhaps for this fact that the West did not evoke the reaction to Muslim killings as it could have evoked for the case being otherwise. There were no candle marches, street demonstrations and mourning functions on the savage killing of New Zealand Muslims the way the world had witnessed in protest against terror strike in France in 2015.
The silence by Indian government and media too is something horrifying. Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended unlimited sympathy to the people and government of France after 2015 terror attack by ISIS but did not utter a word on the aghast killing of Muslims in New Zealand. The so-called media of the world’s largest democracy also followed the foot-steps of the Prime in maintaining silence on the gruesome incident, notwithstanding the fact that India has a population of around 200 million Muslims. Like in the West, Muslims in India too are facing communal wrath at the hands of the Majority community. The rise of BJP to the power with Narendra Modi (with his Gujrat baggage) at the top has normalized anti Muslim outlook in every section of the society. Such people were termed in the beginning as fringe elements but the fringe has become mainstream now. It is dangerous game that is being played in the arena of world politics: Muslims versus the rest. It goes without saying the majority of the people still believe in peaceful co-existence. But they need to come out of the hibernation and take active lead roles. It is their absence in public and political life that gives the unwanted people space. Muslims also need to do some soul-searching and people with self-manufactured far-extremist views need to be through out of the mainstream.

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Editorial

The Divine Reality

The Kashmir Monitor

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Who are we? Where did we come from? How did life originate on this planet? Who were our ancestors? These are some of the intriguing questions that each of us grapples with at least once in our lifetime.

People look for logical and satisfactory answers to these queries both in religion and science. While the three Semitic religions— Islam, Christianity and Judaism— share a common belief in the origin of mankind, Hinduism has a slightly different view. According to the famous tale of Purusha as mentioned in one of the early Vedas, a cosmic man’s sacrifice created all life. According to the Bible, God just said: “Let there be light”, and only in six days the sun, moon, land and sky and all living creatures came into existence. Similarly, the origin of mankind is beautifully embedded in a mystical Quranic verse: “Kun Faya Kun”. It means “the originator of the heavens and the earth (Allah). When He decrees a matter, He only says to it, ‘Be!’ and it is.”

However, we need a deeper insight into the origin of mankind in order to fathom the complete creation plan in a cogent manner. Quran further says: “O mankind, be conscious of your Lord, who created you from one soul (Adam) and created from it its mate (Eve) and dispersed from both of them many men and women” (4:1). This Quranic verse reminds us of our origin, oneness and commonality, something that has become the most forgotten reality in today’s world. In addition, a lot more verses in Quran unravel the eternal truth that all human beings have one creator, one father and one mother. They actually laid the basis of the Sufi worldview of Wahdat-ul-Wujud (unity of being).

 

The notion of Wahdat-ul-Wujud was propounded by Ibn Arabi, an eminent Spanish mystic who has inspired a countless number of Sufis in the history of Islam. Eminent sufis such as Shahab-ud-Din Suhrawardi have written complete spiritual treatises on the related Quranic verses which have been referred as untenable esoteric proofs for the Sufi belief in the Unity of Being.

For Ibn Arabi, the entire world is only one “Divine Reality”. He strongly believed that there was none and would be nothing in the universe except for the existence of one and only Divine. Thus, the world and whatever it has in it including the entire humankind, is nothing other than the self-revelation of God by Himself. In his spiritual discourse on this subject, Ibn Arabi wrote in his book Fusus al-Hikam (The Seals of Wisdom)—one of the most in-depth panoramas of Islamic spirituality: “Allah, the Most Truthful (al-haqq) wanted to see the essences (al-a’yan) of His most perfect and infinite Names (al-asma al-husna)… Allah wanted to see His own Essence (‘ayn) in one global object (kawn) which having been blessed with existence (al-wujud) summarised the Divine order (al-amr) so that He could manifest His mystery (sirr) to Himself.”

This clearly sets out that mankind did not appear on this earth by sheer chance. Rather, Allah willed that peoples from different ethnicities and with different faith traditions inhabit the earth as a manifestation of the Unity (wahdat). If we remind ourselves of this basic point, all polemics of racism, xenophobia, misogynism, ethnic superiority and religious bigotry would disappear from this world which is founded on the beautiful spiritual notion — unity of being.

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