Member parliament Muzaffar Beig's recent statement about the presumed threat of radicalisation in Kashmir has triggered a debate. His fears are everyone's fears that if the problem is not addressed politically, Kashmir may fall into the lap of extremism, but the underlying tone of his statement is more apologetic than realistic. Any reference to khilafat only suits the BJP agenda of treating Kashmir as an extension of Jihadi politics. Madrasa education is totally unrelated to the situation we are passing through at present.
Radicalisation is a challenge. We have been grappling with it and we are unambiguously against it. Those who have mixed violence with religion (however dedicated they call themselves) have led us to disaster. We make no bones about it as we have suffered a great deal because of it. But which threat is bigger? A radicalised India fearing a radicalised Kashmir is like a monster fearing a monkey. In an openly and avowedly saffronised country where cows are attached more value than Muslims, where ghar wapsi is not just a wishful idea but a proper plan, where trident-holding rabble rousers have a freedom they never had before, focusing on Kashmir as if we are the epicentre of a fanatic terror is – to say the mildest – preposterous. We can't reduce the whole resistance discourse to a few jihadi slogans which though cause a problem, but don't define the problem.
Fanaticism as core is far greater a fear than fanaticism as fringe. Radicals ruling a state can't condemn radicals fighting a state. Why do we forget that a bunch of right wing, dyed-in-the-wool violent bigots run the statecraft of a country and unabashedly speak of a Muslim-free India as if they are to clean cockroaches from their houses. In this background if we lose our sleep on the rise of some jihadi groups in Kashmir, why are we so calm about a juggernaut of Hindu bigotry which we are falling a fodder to.
Kashmir is a different case though a radical ideology of religious politics does have its share. Radicalisation is not specific to a particular religion, but to a particular mindset whichever religion it belongs to. Religious or cultural denominations are all incidental, the virus lies within. If our `elected representatives' are worried about a growing Jihadi culture in Kashmir, their worry must weigh heavier on the other side. But they can't afford to be equally honest and equally liberal. Alcohol they won't ban as they want to see Kashmir a free society, but beef they can't allow as that displeases the master. Why this selective condemnation, selective freethinking or selective expression of fear.