While religious cleansing by Islamists had never really stopped in the valley of Kashmir, as the Narendra Modi government, aided by the governor’s rule, is quietly trying to resettle Kashmiri Pandits in the ravaged area along with other Hindus to give the natives an added sense of security, Islamic terrorism is back with gusto, panicked by the gradually but surely correcting demography of the region that was once a springboard for the Shaiva sect of the oldest civilisation of the world, The murder of pharmacist Makhan Lal Bindroo, a street food vendor from Bihar, the president of a taxi stand union and a Hindu and a Sikh teacher adds to the toll of 23 civilians eliminated from the face of the earth this year. were also gunned down. Clearly, the virtual abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A has not been enough to make life secure in Jammu and Kashmir. The militants could target at will even a probationary sub-inspector, whom they shot point-blank. The targeted killings show the terrorists have quickly adapted to the new security environment even as separatists could not fan the emotions of local Muslims enough to cause massive unrest. The inability of the stone-pelting crowd to renew their anarchism does not mean that are not furthering Islam’s Ghazwa-e-Hind anymore, though. The Islamic war guided by faith manifests in different ways, spreading the religion through tabligh and doing the same by ‘the might of the sword’, as a former pope put it, are two of its most active forms. Muslim civilians who can manage it are certainly aiding the terrorists, for that is what their desert cult dictates them. It is time Indian commentary, both by politicians and media, takes a break and smells the coffee. While indicting Pakistan for its false narrative that brands the homicides as ‘local resistance’, taking advantage of the terrorists’ decentralised action, parties and journalists are not telling the whole Mohammedan story. Given some leeway, Kashmir will not take long before turning into another Afghanistan that will finally be taken over by a local version of the Taliban. In that dreadful scenario, there will be no space for any competing ideology, let alone an opposing one. Seeing the fruits of the genocide of Pandits in 1991-92 disappearing in the Modi era, the Islamists, enjoying Nehruvian romanticism in the period 1947-2019, have redeemed their pledge for a tryst with the Caliph’s destiny. But pointing an accusatory finger at the burglar while not working on securing one’s home is missing the plot.
There is no solution to the mess other than an unabashed reversal of the religious skew in the population’s religious composition. Hindu organisations with adequate heft must throng the place and reconvert the converted back to their original fold. This has to go hand in hand with a fortress-like security arrangement. The killings in public places demonstrate that the police or military state that India’s detractors accuse New Delhi of creating in the valley is hardly true. Civilian areas’ security showed gaping holes even during the recent procession on the occasion of Janmashtami. That brings to question once again the politically correct bites some Pandits gave to the media at the time, saying that Kashmir had always been an example of happy Muslim-Hindu co-existence. Then came the statement of Bindroo’s daughter that was as outrageous as it was a defiance of the reality. The community must have borne so much of torture that its senses have turned numb. Otherwise, no sane person would entertain the idea of inviting terrorists for a debate. That was not even a rationalisable response from someone who had just lost her father to killers’ bullets. But then, the family of the dead pharmacist, who had refused to leave his home and hearth even at the height of Islam’s cleansing operation in what was then a state, perhaps had run out of answers, seeing an apathetic nation-state. Until recently, the community even had a misnomer for nomenclature. The coinage “Pandit” sounded more of a caste configuration than a member of the larger Hindu society. It was not surprising, therefore, that 80% of the nation’s numbers did not come to the aid of the community that is numerically incapable of putting in place a critical mass that would be able to pressure the government to take note of their plight and offer redress. The community has so far not been able to even make the prime minister or the home minister utter the word “Pandit” in one of their many speeches on Jammu and Kashmir since 5 August two years ago.
If the movement for Baloch independence is rendered ineffective by the fact that its vocal leaders are all in exile, the Hindu natives of Kashmir have never tried even to organise a large march to the parliament, courting arrests in a dramatic manner in order to grab television and newspaper space for one whole day. Their ability to hold aloft a few intellectuals who can speak and write well is a glaringly insignificant step towards regaining the lost land. India will but one day surely get the heart of Kashmir back. Not because the Pandits had fought for it enough but because India cannot afford another Afghanistan on the crown of its map. While Narendra Modi is a remarkable improvement over Atal Bihari Vajpayee, India awaits yet another leader who will not only correct the historic wrongs like the current regime is doing but also be bold enough to tell the nation and the world the real reasons that merited the correction which, in the case of Kashmir, was never Dalit empowerment, employment generation or economic revival, the secondary aspects that the union government boasts of while waxing eloquent about the repealed, discriminatory and divisive provisions of the constitution.