Unidentified Gunmen of Kashmir

File Photo

There is a killing on the streets of Kashmir and it is highly likely that the blame goes to this nefarious “unidentified gun man”. The term “unidentified gun men” has now become a part of our day to day lives, with people like me, who have grown-up listening to this term right from our childhood. It is so that this “cult” is everywhere, in every sphere of Kashmir life, capable of committing murders, day-in and day-out, while maintaining its anonymity even though it walks among us unmasked. The emergence of this term “unidentified gunmen” (in context to killings in Kashmir) came with the emergence of armed struggle against the Indian rule in 1989. During early and late 90’s when the militancy as well as the Indian counter-attack to it were at peak, this “unidentified gunmen” was attributed to numerous killings on both parts of the political and ideological divide. This phenomenon of unidentified gunmen has caused a kind of psychosis in the brains of Kashmiri people which instills a fear of being continuously under somebody’s watch; following you like your shadow and could pull out a gun in a market place or in a park and shoot at you.

I remember during late 90’s, when I was a young boy and for the first time came to know about a killing by the so-called “Na maloom Bandook Bardaar” (unidentified gunmen) in downtown Srinagar. I was so terrified by the fact that they could kill anyone; anytime; anywhere and easily disappear without leaving any clue whatsoever for police to trace them. For days I refused to go to toilet alone, such was the fear and I can only pity the kids of Kashmir going through this fear now. In the evenings, I would pray to grow up soon and think of strategies to catch this “Na maloom Bandook bardaar” which had created paranoia among the people. I would imagine how grateful and relieved the people of Kashmir would be when these unidentified gunmen would be caught and punished. However, little did I know that the people who are supposed to hunt them down were not going to do that, not because they are not capable of doing so, but because it serves their interests or the interests of their bosses and could well be in secret friendship with these killers. What else explains the inability of the authorities to unmask these perpetrators for more than two decades?

A place like Kashmir which is marred by political strife for decades becomes a sanctuary for proxy agencies, fielded by powerful people, which cover their ulterior motives and present a more virtuous face. Here political parties use proxy agencies to execute crimes against their rivals to score points, while claiming to be the victims. And, in-between this political drama, the common Kashmiri has been facing the burnt. There is an unprecedented network of agencies and agents working in Kashmir and we hardly know which agency is doing what behind the scenes. In a scintillating piece of investigative journalism, (The Eerie NGO Phenomenon in Kashmir) Parvaiz Bukhari, a noted Kashmiri journalist, revealed that “there are nearly 16,000 NGOs, most of which are unregistered, working in Kashmir and many of which have affiliations with powerful people in Intelligence Bureau and political parties.” In 2013, General V.K. Singh (retd.), the Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army, admitted to The Hindu Newspaper that “Technical Services Division (TSD) which he set up as the Army Chief, worked with politicians and some pro-India NGOs to blunt anti-India propaganda of separatists” and further revealed that “money had been paid by Army to NGOs like J&K Humanitarian Services Organization (JKHSO) and Yes Kashmir”. He also attributed the 2011 Panchayat elections and a sudden end to the 2010 stone- throwing protests as two major achievements of the role played by NGOs.

In wake of the recent statement made by Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar trying to justify the use of proxy agencies to neutralize the state targets, many in Kashmir believe that these unidentified gunmen who have recently been on a killing spree, particularly in Sopore town, a hot bed of anti-India and separatist activities, could be acting for the state. After all, the state has such a huge nexus of intelligence agents in the garb of NGOs and other humanitarian agencies which on ground have churned collaborators, pitted a brother against a brother, a neighbor on a neighbor and a phenomenon of “Na Maloom Bandook Bardaar (unidentified gunmen)”.

A version of this article appeared in Greater Kashmir on June 23, 2015.


What is wrong with Muslims today?

downloadAs I am compiling this piece there is crisis in almost entire Muslim world. There is a proxy war going on in Syria where thousands have already lost their lives, Egypt has erupted into a Civil war with fissures deep into the nation after Democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi was toppled by General Al-Sisi in one of the world’s most shameful coup; Pakistan has lost its integrity with its people divided on all grounds among fundamentalists and far-Liberals, both unable to stand each other, and hence, annihilating the national interests into speckles of gunfire on every argument. Sudan, which was till recently, Africa’s largest Islamic nation divided, with south Sudan in deep crisis right now. Iraq after Saddam, has seen Sunni’s and Shia’s blowing up each other in Mosques, buses and on roads. Afghanistan, which once prematurely and insanely celebrated the fall of Taliban by American onslaught, is now incurably debilitated into pieces of dirt and sand, with its people sick of American toys capable of shooting hell-fire missiles at them from skies.

These are a few in a long list of Islamic nations that are in one or the other degree of conflict with itself or with the rest of the world. It inflicts pain in my heart to see Islamic nations in shatters, its people in a mad race of arms, killing each other on alibi which they call “revolution” and boast of it as “Jihad”- the holy war. I really don’t understand how terribly mentally challenged could these people be to kill a human who they differ with on politico-ideological front and deem it Islamic.

Most of the violence in the Muslim world particularly in Middle-East began with “Arab Spring” which was a result of decades of autocratic and authoritarian rule. It was at the individual level, for and by the people towards positive change. Change that would provide them freedom at discrete and collective levels, and accountability for the people at helm. Change that was supposed to bring Arab nations out of oblivion and away from the western influences into the affairs of running the nations. In Egypt, unexpectedly and to the disgust of US, it up-rooted America’s long ally Hosni Mubarak who in order to amuse his western masters always choose not to interfere into the atrocities in the neighboring Palestine by Israel and in their favor blocked all the passages of exit from Gaza at times when Israel would bomb this small strip of densely populated land, an example of a loyal Dog he had set up.

Interesting to analyze is how this movement for the upliftment, advancement and unity, which would mean lesser foreign influence in the political matters was hijacked and used as an impetus to divide the same people who started and took part in it. Today, after a couple of years of its inception, Arab Spring has turned into a monster with a killing machine in its hands, inexorably conquering city after city and village after village in the Arab World, leaving rubble of bodies on streets, ripples of divide running strong into the inhabitants which now have turned into factions and sub-factions, each interested in defending its own small group from the other. The hijack of the emotions and situation is such that the Muslims (term “Muslims” has been used deliberately instead of “people” to signify the gravity of the decline in the sense of brotherhood within the community) of a nation are being made to recognize and realize subtle ideological differences or differential interpretations of their religion as lines of separation and factionalism.

The western Powers who are always on prowl for acquiring more and more resource- filled Muslim lands, particularly, the Arabian Peninsula, seem to delve onto their ever favorite “regime change” policy, should there be any hindrance in their foreign policy goals by the existing regimes. Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Libya (North Africa) are the proven examples where Western powers, particularly, United States, meddled into the internal affairs of sovereign nations, provoked people against their regimes which had become unfavorable for western interests and aggravated them into fighting each other. The proxy wars thus began, fuelled by the evoked sectarian sentiments and the supply of arms and ammunition from CIA and others. In Syria, Shia and Sunni interpretations of Islam have been so grossly exploited that the Sunni Muslims (which form the major part of the so-called rebels) cannot stand to be ruled by Bashar Al- Asad, a Shia Muslim. The situation is immensely distressing, to the extent that Abu Sakkar, the beast in the skin of a man (Commander of the Farouq Brigade, a major rebel group fighting against government troops), not only kills his fellow brothers, who till recently were regarded as great soldiers of the Syrian government, but chops out their hearts with sharp knives and eats them whilst chanting Allah u Akbar. What a shame!

Dread in their eyes and out for manslaughter with guns and bazookas provided by the Western Powers to kill their own brethren for the benefit of their masters and they call themselves Muslims. What a mental condition these men are inflicted with not to observe the fact that they are waging a war against their own people, for and under the guidance of people, who do no service to the Humanity unless for their “national interests”, which often cross all borders and become “international”. What a shameful mis-understanding of situation these people are into, believing that these super powers are concerned with the development of the people of Arab. Doing so they are ignoring what these proponents of democracy did in Iraq and Libya; and they played a significant role to topple democratically elected leadership of Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

In this profane carnage Muslims are massacring fellow Muslims whilst shamelessly calling upon Allah u Akbar. Even women and children are not spared. Sadly, this whole affair is costing not only Muslims as individuals but Islam as a religion. Two of the Islam’s historical mosques, Khalid bin Waleed Mosque in Homs and Umayyad Mosque in Damascus caught fire in the cross-firing. The image of Islam as a religion of peace has been devastated. Muslims are considered to be the people with fundamentalist approach to society which is exactly opposite to what Islam actually teaches but then as the saying goes “actions speak louder than words”.

It is important for Muslims to analyze any given situation in a rationale sense and that is what Islam taught. Islam teaches tolerance, patience and civility even in worst possible scenarios. It taught brotherhood among the community and with non-Muslims. Our Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) taught us the affairs of rule, and; the manners through which to seek change of rulers. I feel terribly sorry that Muslims instead of safeguarding each other are rather collaborating with forces that want us divided for their sinister interests. It is extremely important to propagate kinship and not let another Reconquista smudge the face of Muslims.

May Allah guide the Muslims to the right path and make us able to distinguish between friends and foes!

Published By Rising Kashmir on February 01, 2014