Moderates to probe Showkat killing - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Sunday 17 April 2011

Moderates to probe Showkat killing

Differing forms of Kashmiri alienation. A press conference by hard line women's leader Asiya Andrabi, and a common man during last year's street protests

by Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 18th Apr 11

Kashmir’s moderate separatist leaders, physically targeted over the years by radicals, are launching their own investigation into the killing on April 8 with an explosive device of the respected Jamiat Ahle Hadith (JAH) chief, Maulvi Showkat Shah.

On Saturday, the state police arrested four suspects in the killing, which they blamed on factional rivalry within the JAH. The moderates, in launching their own investigation, are sending out a message that they would no longer remain silent in the face of sustained attack. Over the past two decades, some of the moderate leaders killed in Kashmir, evidently at the behest of radicals, include Mohammad Farooq in 1990; Qazi Nissar in 1994; Abdul Gani Lone in 2002; Sheikh Abdul Aziz in 2008; and now Showkat Shah. In addition, moderate leader Fazl-ul-Haq Qureshi was shot and critically injured in 2009.

Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, chairman of the moderate faction of the separatist All Parties Hurriyat Conference, told Business Standard all the separatist factions would meet here tomorrow to set up an all-party committee to investigate the murder. In a challenge to Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s hard line Tehreek-e-Hurriyat faction, which many Kashmiris are reported to suspect of masterminding the attacks on moderates, he said he expected Geelani’s faction to join the probe.

“If they don’t, then it’s an issue,” said the Mirwaiz.

Geelani had expressed shock over the killing and termed it a loss to the J&K movement.

Added Farooq: “The Hizb-ul-Mujahideen is conducting its own probe (into Maulvi Showkat’s killing). The Lashkar-e-Toiba had a function in Islamabad and they said that they would look into it. We, too, are not letting anybody off the hook. We are looking from New Delhi to Islamabad to Srinagar. Everybody is a suspect for us.”

Backing the moderates’ probe is Yasin Malik’s Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), the organisation that spearheaded the armed movement for “azadi” until Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence sidelined them by propping up the Hizbul Mujahideen, which backed merger with Pakistan rather than “azadi”. While the JKLF is no longer an influential armed group, it commands significant moral authority with the Kashmiri people.

“We have taken it as a challenge, as an attack on the JKLF, and on me personally as a close associate of Maulvi Showkat. The people of Kashmir, by coming out in large numbers against the killing, have proved the killer a coward. The message was loud and clear. It is a referendum in favour of Showkat,” declares Malik.

Former Hurriyat chairman, Abdul Gani Bhat, who had created ripples in January by suggesting publicly that Kashmiri radicals were behind the killing of moderates, said: “In my opinion, one of us did it. It is for the government to come up with a statement that A did it or B did it, so that the people know who is at the bottom of it.”

Tapping citizen anger

This unusual vocal outrage expressed by moderates appears to draw strength from the spontaneous grief expressed by common Kashmiris, who turned up in tens of thousands at Showkat’s funeral here. “When a civilian is killed by the army or the police, or a government agency, people are on the streets. But when somebody is killed by an unidentified person, they take it in their stride. We have to make people more conscious to killings that are done by ‘black sheep’ or people who are in our own herd,” says Mirwaiz Farooq.

While most people believe the all-party investigation is political tough talk rather than an authentic police-style criminal investigation, locals are still waiting to see if the JAH takes this further. The JAH is a disciplined cadre-based organisation, with a mass membership across Kashmir, many in influential positions. Showkat was a religious fundamentalist in his adherence to the Salafi creed, which harks back to the days of the Prophet, but he was a political moderate, advocating dialogue and negotiation rather than stone pelting and the gun.

According to police and political sources, it was less his stance against violence that led to his assassination, as his growing closeness to the top Saudi Arabian clergy, including the influential head priest of Mecca. The Saudi cleric had recently accepted an invitation to visit Srinagar, abandoning the traditional Saudi reluctance to visit a disputed territory. Sources allege the ISI was worried that diluting this stance would erode Pakistan’s claim over Kashmir, raise Showkat’s status above other Kashmiri religious leaders, including Geelani, and enhance the JAH’s influence.

Already Showkat’s Trans-World University was being funded by the Islamic Development Bank and by donations from Saudi Arabia. He had favoured a broad-based education, with the sciences and liberal arts going hand in hand with study of the Quran.


  1. Col. Shukla - Sir, nice article as usual.

  2. so what is your feel about the broad ground situation ?

    not necessarily about this murder.

  3. 'Alienation' is defined as "Separation resulting from hostility". I am assuming the use of this word was intentional and that coupled with your views expressed in the quiz prior to this, you somehow believe that hostility from the Indian government, or indirectly the Indian people with the government as its representative is responsible for all or part of the Kashmir problem.

    While this might be a justifiable sentiment (debatable at best), what is not acceptable is the example you have chosen. Asiya Andrabi? The woman is a bloody little bitch who would have all our women wearing tents and bowing to their men.

    There is a point at which you should stop soft toeing a line and start calling the person your enemy. And Asiya Andrabi is way past that point. She has been quoted as a proponent of universal Islamic rule, believes that Muslims across the world are a nation in themselves irrespective of their geographical affiliations. She wants kashmir to be governed by the sharia, unmindful of the significant populations of non muslims in the state.

    In the end this must be a conflict for you, between the morals of your current proffession and the former. While journalism demands that you report the truth and reality at all costs, the army would have you endorse the ideals of the nation.

    You should report the truth Col Shukla, but remember that you have a lot of liberty in what language you use for the truth. Will you continue to project the Dukhtaran E Millat as a face of kashmiri alienation, or will you admit that it subscribes to an ideology fundamentally different from that which is enshrined in our constitution and needs to be taken down?


  4. Sometimes i wonder what if Kashmir was not a part of India how much peace of mind we would have received? Imagine a Picture of India without Kashmir (what ever is left of it) When we were kids we used to read Kashmir is the crown of India looks like a Crown full of thorns to me. Since inception we have been giving the state a special status no non-Kashmiri can aquire land or houses there but the Kashmiris can do so here I was speaking to one such Kashmiri in my Company Outside Kashmir ofcourse the person said Kashmir was never a part of India. How does that sound?

  5. Wonder what happened to all the commenters in the previous blog, who wanted to take you on.

    I understand you dont like Anonymous commenters (esp. those who support you .. :( ). My comment got missed the last time.

    Sorry, I dont like leaving a trail..

  6. whatever can be seen of these fearsome women in veil, they seem more like men than women....a people who have ethnically cleansed the valley of kashmiri pandits deserve little humane consideration.....all the more zero consideration for their mad notion of freedom on religious lines....

  7. Terrorists may be having their own ways. Perhaps they first kill the moderates among themselves and then go against the friends among the perceived enemies.

    Anyhow pakistan will never allow the Pandits to go back to kashmir before the merger with pakistan.

    So the ultimate solution will remain as ever regarding the re-merger of pakistan itself.


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