or the Islamic world stretches from North-West Africa, parts of the Middle
East, the Turkish-Central Asian countries, to the Indian subcontinent and
further afield to the Indonesian- Philippino Islands. This vast area has been
in the grip of religious extremism, while India has not been affected as
certain other countries.
has to contend with the Kashmir insurgency, it is basically a regional uprising
with its genesis in the terms of accession to India. To that can be added the
meddling by Pakistan from across the Line of Control. However, unlike a factor
like ‘Palestine’ that unites the Muslims and resonates across all Muslim
countries of the world, the same sentiment is certainly not applicable to the
Indian Muslims (190 million out of the 200 million who live outside of the
state of J&K).
the state of J&K, roughly 3 million Muslims of the nomadic Gujjar-Bakarwal
ethnicity, Dogra Muslims and those in the Kargil/Leh sectors have had no role
in the Kashmir Valley insurgency. Despite feverish attempts to co-opt these
ethnicities and denominations into the insurgency, this section of the populace
has stoutly refused all bait, coercion and religious edicts to participate.
Additionally, while there have been stray instances of misguided youth from
India joining the ISIS in the Middle East, there has been no incident of
religiously indoctrinated youth joining the ranks of militants in J&K. This
confirms the ‘regional’ status of the issue as opposed to the ‘religious’
underpinning. Globally, violence in the name of faith, intra-faith-sectarianism
or even against the ‘others’ e.g. Uighur revolt in China or the Moro conflict
in the Philippines is not the sort of religious conflagration that has ignited
the insurgency in Kashmir.
decades of generous assistance of the Wahhabism by Pakistan and the Gulf
Sheikhdoms into the sub-conscience of the Kashmir Valley has resulted in the
decline of the traditional Syncretic- Sufi Kashmiri sensibilities, the cultural
moorings and societal underpinnings have not regressed to the level that they
have as in the desert countries of Africa or the Middle East. The protection of
India’s constitutional rights and privileges ~ some are unique to J&K ~ and
the empowerment of participative democracy (despite temporary disruptions)
affords societal ventilation that has ensured that the local grouse does not
acquire irretrievable extremist tendencies, in the entire Kashmir Valley.
current situation of ‘Governor’s Rule’, the Lok Sabha elections were held and
with the participation of most regional parties. Against this backdrop, the
report by Amaq News Agency of ISIS to the effect that its supposed affiliate in
the Kashmir Valley has established a ‘province’ or ‘Wilayah of Hind’
belies the ground realities. The ISIS claim was a follow-up to the killing of a
local militant, who had professed his allegiance to the entity. While this
particular militant had been active for many years, his joining the ISIS was a
recent development, and in accord with the emergence of ISIS in public
imagination and conscience.
other terror groups and political separatists in the Valley, that are
‘legitimised’, funded and armed by Pakistan, ISIS as an organisational concept
is antithetical to the interests of Pakistan. The core idea of a Caliphate
obviously repudiates the concept of nationalism, and thus militates against the
idea of a nation-state like Pakistan and its structural axis like the civilian
government, military, societal-sectarian distinguishers and even the clerical
order, as it exists today.
ISIS can only be an extremist ‘idea’ that appeals to some frustrated Kashmiri
youth who have a sense of disillusionment with the abilities of the existing
separatist groups as they believe them to be either ‘beholden’ to Pakistan or
‘diluted’ in terms of religion. Hence, they tend to imagine puritanical
revisionism, bloody vengeance and redemption that is the immediate
gratification of the ISIS philosophy. This had led to occasional waving of the
black ISIS flag in odd protests, only to effect a shock-value.
There is no
infrastructural set-up or organisational structure to sustain such an
operational group. Now that ISIS has been decimated geographically, most particularly
in the hinterland of Syria,- it will still exist as a virulent ideology that
can inspire and motivate disgruntled elements into indulging in violence. This
was manifest in the recent terror attack in Sri Lanka. The threat of ‘lone
rangers’ operating under the ideological flag of ISIS cannot be ruled out.
However, to suspect the emergence of an ISIS ‘province’ is far stretched, as
let alone the Indian security forces, even the other operational terror groups
would oppose such an evolution.
In the ensuing
Afghan war, the Taliban is fighting the national government and is
simultaneously locked in a deadly battle against the Islamic State of Khorasan.
Essentially, the concerted efforts of the sovereign states and other separatist
forces would not allow the emergence of an exclusivist entity like ISIS, which
has a history of irreconcilability, barbarism and intolerance towards its own
cadres as well.
held lands have shrunk to insignificance in the Middle East, curtailing its
ability to generate finances to sustain itself, let alone its affiliates or new
‘provinces’. The threat of ISIS is in the realm of an ‘idea’, as opposed to an
organisation. It calls for efforts towards societal de-radicalisation,
socio-economic inputs to reduce vulnerabilities of youth, and the continued
free-flow of democratic opportunities to ensure the mainstreaming of local
delegitimisation of Al Qaida was done earlier, entailing multiple state efforts
towards solutions that included militaristic, religio-moral, societal and
economic inputs. India needs to investigate the ISIS claim of having set up a
‘province’ from the perspective of its ideological appeal, as opposed to an
organisational or geographical construct. The constitutional guarantees of
inclusivity, equality and democracy have been the most effective safeguards
against such regressive forces, and can continue to be so.
Bhopinder Singh Is Lt Gen PVSM, AVSM (Retd), Former Lt
Governor of Andaman & Nicobar Islands & Puducherry