This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Youth Ki Awaaz. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

How To Integrate Kashmir With India [Part 4: Ideologically Combating The Idea Of Azadi For Kashmir]

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

By Karmanye Thadani:

For those who have not followed the earlier articles in this series or are not cognizant of the term ‘Islamism’, I may clarify that it is not to be confused with Islam as a faith per se but with a totalitarian ideology of imposing a certain version of Islam, as also stereotyping in a negative fashion other religious communities, Islamism being to Islam somewhat similar to what Hindutva is to Hinduism. In the second article in this series, the views of the Islamist secessionists in Kashmir, as also those of liberal Kashmiri Muslim secessionists, have been examined in some depth.

As regards engaging with the Islamist secessionists in Kashmir, the ideology of Islamism will have to be fought tooth and nail and the myths about India, USA or Israel being enemies of Islam as a faith per se would have to be busted (Mirwaiz, a ‘moderate’ Hurriyat leader has declared that Israeli tourists should not be allowed to visit Kashmir, even though they come in large numbers and contribute to the economic development of the valley). In all these countries, a non-Muslim has complete freedom to embrace Islam, though for many of these Islamists, apostasy from Islam would be a crime punishable by death in the independent Kashmir of their imagination. There have been rogue elements in the armies of Muslim countries like Pakistan as well, that have inflicted atrocities on fellow Muslims in what are today South Sudan and Bangladesh (or even Balochistan) respectively, and the US Army did so in Vietnam, which isn’t a Muslim-majority country, and so did the Indian Army in Punjab and the north-east (including Hindu-majority Assam), which are not Muslim-majority; so, this has nothing to do with religion. Besides, Muslims, practising Muslims included, have been prominent figures in all walks of life in India, the United States and Israel, and many non-Muslims in these countries have raised their voices for Muslims in their own countries and other parts of the world when they (Muslims) have been wronged. The Islamist secessionists in Kashmir must give up the anachronistic idea of a global Muslim fraternity or even bother much about religion as a badge of social identity within a country in this age of multiculturalism, country-oriented nationalism and international human rights activism.

As pro-India Kashmiri Sunni writer Sualeh Keen, whom I have the good fortune of being acquainted with, has articulated in a piece

The centripetal pull of an island mentality is offset by a centrifugal push to connect with the outside world. Presently, this outward-looking impulse manifests itself in the Kashmiri Muslim majority’s romance with Pakistan, and in their latching on to issues concerning the Muslim world. Controversial issues in faraway Muslim countries can incur fierce responses in the valley. Thus, its unique identity together with the special feature of being a Muslim majority region in India is the religious-regional complex around which secessionism in the valley is constructed.”

In fact, in this connection, I recall a conversation I had with an otherwise liberal Kashmiri Muslim journalist with secessionist convictions who envisages an independent Kashmir as a secular state and asserts that secessionist Kashmiri Muslims must respect the pro-India convictions of most Kashmiri Hindus and some Kashmiri Muslims, but he too has an Islamist outlook when it comes to viewing Muslims globally as some sort of consolidated political unit (I had mentioned earlier in this series that the classification into liberals and Islamists can’t be watertight).

In spite of being an award-winning journalist currently working for a reputed media house and whose articles feature even on the BBC website, he was completely oblivious to the historical background and contemporary scenario with respect to the secessionist movement in Balochistan (the mostly Muslim people of which, with very few exceptions, want secession from also Muslim-majority Pakistan), in spite of Kashmir and Balochistan having a similar history of the monarch signing an instrument of accession, and my telling him about the Baloch scenario came as an eye-opener to him, though I discovered in a later conversation that he was, on the other hand, quite well-versed with the dispute in faraway Chechnya and had a long debate with me over the same (however, the conflict closest to the hearts of Kashmiri Muslims other than their own is the Israel-Palestine conflict, something many non-Kashmiri Indian Muslims are also quite passionate about and, in fact, many Muslims cutting across geographical barriers, are). When I argued that the Chechen secessionist movement doesn’t really have a basis in international law, he started trashing international law per se conflating the body of law itself with its efficacy, but didn’t continue when I reminded him that he and his Kashmiri separatist ilk invoke international law (UN resolutions) as the basis for their demands!

He also does have a romance for Pakistan (he told me that he was earlier pro-Pakistan and later became pro-azadi, somewhere around the mid-1990s; in fact, while Kashmiri separatists on the Indian side of the LoC espousing the cause of azadi do condemn the rigging of elections and human rights violations on the other side of the LoC, their condemnation seldom reaches the extent of unanimously considering Pakistan as an enemy just like India), praising it for taking up the Kashmiri cause in international forums, and he portrayed global conflicts to be of a basically religious character, a rather immature analysis not expected from a journalist of such a stature. When I pointed out the secession of East Pakistan as an independent Bangladesh, he put the blame on India, but when I stated that though India had a role in supporting the rebels, there were basic fault-lines that India exploited to its advantage, just as in Kashmir, there were basic fault-lines even though Pakistan funded and trained the secessionist militants or that non-Talibanized Afghanistan and Bangladesh under the Awami League have more cordial relations with India than the contemporary Hindu-majority Nepal (where we have seen a rather interesting confluence of religion and Marxism in spite of the state now being declared as secular), he had no answer!

The Islamists must be made to understand that the basic tenets of Islam, like any of the other major global religions, are grounded in humanism, tolerance of diverse opinions, including even other religions, and striving for socioeconomic egalitarianism, and laws introduced in the Middle East in the 7th century may not be relevant now, though the basic moral values underlying those laws are still relevant but would manifest themselves in a different form in a different age and a different geographical and cultural setting.

They must grasp the simple logic that nothing is correct because a supposedly great man said it but a man should be regarded as great because he is able to convince others of the wisdom and insightfulness of his philosophy so as to not blindly follow blatant misinterpretations or anachronistic interpretations of their noble faith, and to promote Islam compatible with Indian culture in a modern context would be a task in itself. Actually, many already existing versions of Sufi Islam do so quite well, but to convince those not adhering to them to embrace such versions of Islam is not easy, and promotion of a certain sect is not a feasible option, but to give a more holistic and comprehensive understanding of and promote a healthy respect for the underlying beauty of India’s composite culture, including what has come to be associated with Hinduism as a faith with its diverse strands, is necessary. Liberal Muslim scholars in Europe such as Bassam Tibi and Abdel Samad are making efforts to do so in the European context. Some of their statements may seemingly amount to a critique of Islam per se, but they desire that the religion be interpreted in the modern context to conform to international human rights standards for which there should be no room for theocracy, and they are not selective about criticizing a certain religion and demonizing it the way some pseudo-intellectuals from the Muslim community, who make a big show of renouncing and denouncing their own religion, are, though this is not to call all apostates of Islam pseudo-intellectuals but those who intentionally misrepresent and demonize their faith, perhaps for publicity.

In the Indian context, the task of promoting the practice of Islam compatible with a composite Indian culture in a modern setting becomes even more complicated, but would have to be taken up not only for the sake of helping quell separatism in Kashmir but also because Islamism is a problem across India, as can be inferred from the way many Muslims protested against the Supreme Court decision in the Shah Bano case (though there were indeed also practising Muslims liberal by outlook who welcomed it) which obviously can be equated to their strong aversion for a uniform civil code, and even worse, many non-Kashmiri Indian Muslims taking up the path of terrorism in recent years (following the terrible politically backed anti-Muslim carnage in Gujarat in 2002), and the Islamist sentiment manifested itself in the rather violent protest in Mumbai not too long ago against the recent killings of Muslims in Assam (as though the lives of Bodos don’t matter) and even more strangely, Myanmar, even though the Indian government gave considerable aid to its Myanmarese counterpart to help the Muslim victims of violence there.

Rather than looking up to Maulana Maududi (he is a great influence in Kashmir) who wanted to give virtually no rights to Pakistani Hindus and openly declared that there was no hypocrisy in his stand as he had no problem if Indian Muslims were meted out the same treatment, Kashmiri Muslims should turn to progressive visionaries like Maulana Azad, a great scholar of Islam and a very prominent Indian nationalist who remarkably prophesized as early as 1946 the secession of East Pakistan, further ethnic conflicts in what would remain of Pakistan, foreign powers attempting to control Pakistan and Pakistan turning into a military dictatorship!

Once such Muslims are comfortable identifying themselves as citizens of India as a secular state with a non-Muslim majority as well as identifying themselves as adherents of Islam as a faith, seeing no contradiction between the two and without yearning for being governed under a theocratic setup that imposes a certain version of religion (and there are, of course, undoubtedly already many such Indian Muslims, including even some Kashmiris), Islamism in Kashmir and the rest of India as an issue will die out. It may not be possible to completely wipe out Islamism or Hindutva, but the space for these discourses would have to be nearly eliminated, making them quite irrelevant, just like the racist ideology of the Ku Klux Klan in the United States.

[box bg=”#fdf78c” color=”#000″]About the author: The author is a freelance writer based in New Delhi and has co-authored two short books, namely ‘Onslaughts on Free Speech in India by Means of Unwarranted Film Bans’ and ‘Women and Sport in India and the World. To read his other posts, click here.[/box]

You must be to comment.

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By Medha Ghosh

By sehar abdullah

By Rahul Karanpuriya

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below