Planned Hindu genocide and Islamisation of Kashmir?
By Sukhvinder Kapoor?
The victimisation of a Christian priest over the charges of forced conversion in Jammu and Kashmir highlights not only the content of azadi that the champions of self-determination are demanding but also the extent of Islamisation that has already taken place in the State.
Imagine the tempest that would follow if the chief minister of a State ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party were to appoint a Shankaracharya and seek direction for social and cultural policies. Rank communalism, vile regression, beginning of theocracy, assault on secularism—this is how our liberals would greet the move. They would vehemently campaign for the status quo.
But when it comes to Kashmir, all the grand notions about keeping the State and religion apart are given a silent burial; a conspiracy of silence entrenches itself. So, we did not even know that the J&K government, in which the super-secular Congress is a partner, actually appointed a Grand Mufti. Yes, Mufti Mohammad Bashiruddin heads the Supreme Court of Islamic Jurisprudence in Kashmir. The mandate is obvious: to implement Shariat, which is the antithesis of all that the Indian Constitution and modernity stand for.
The Grand Mufti is no titular figure; he is an activist. He has a court, in which he summoned pastor CM Khanna following allegations of his involvement in forced conversions. Earlier in November, social networking sites showed locals converting to Christianity. Khanna has denied these allegations.
Unsurprisingly, the video clip evoked strong protests from the people in the Valley. Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said, “It is very unfortunate what is happening. We are in touch with Christian missionaries. We can’t remain silent over the issue.”
In a State where the writ of jihadis is writ large, one has to be immensely credulous to believe that Muslims can be forcibly converted to Christianity or, for that matter, any other faith. Perhaps, there were conversions, but it is yet to be proved that these were forcible. At any rate, conversions are not illegal in India. For instance, when Muslim men marry non-Muslim women, the latter embrace Islam. This is how former Miss India Sangeeta Bijlani married former Indian cricket captain Mohammad Azharuddin and film star Sharmila Tagore married Tiger Pataudi.
The J&K Police have arrested and interrogated the pastor of the All India Saints Church; he has been booked for causing religious enmity and forced conversions of Kashmiri Muslims through allurements. Preliminary questioning, the cops claimed, showed that about 15 locals have been converted to Christianity by Khanna. “Investigations into the reports of alleged conversion by Khanna are on. Some arrests are expected soon,” said Senior Superintendent of Police Srinagar Ashiq Bukhari.
Khanna faces prosecution under Section 153 A, which amounts to religious enmity, and 295 A, religious conversion under duress and in lieu to allurements.
Minister of Law & Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Sagar said, “J&K is known for communal harmony and co-existence of religion. Any person who will try to create hatred or ill will against any religion will not be spared, but will be dealt under law.”
Hindustan Times quoted a police officer who had spoken to it “on the condition of anonymity” that Khanna had already “admitted” to forcibly converting 15 youth.
The Grand Mufti told The Hindu, “Initially, he (Khanna) did not accept that he was doing this…. But when confronted by some boys, he had no option but to accept.”
Obviously, a non-Muslim priest would have no option in an (almost) Islamic state.
These events inform us in some measure what kind of “communal harmony and co-existence of religion” would be there if the Hurriyat bigots are allowed to have their way.
I was just wondering what would the interlocutors—journalist Dileep Padgoankar, academic Radha Kumar, and former civil servant M.M. Ansari—would have to say about the persecution of Khanna. They advocated “meaningful autonomy” for the State in their report to the Central government.
Did they know about the office of Grand Mufti? If yes, did they object to it? If no, what on earth were doing as interlocutors? How would they respond to the assault on freedom of faith in the Valley?
All those who truly believe in modernity will be aghast at the suppression of religious freedom in Kashmir. Sadly, our voluble intellectuals will not be among them, for they are not only mute spectators to the Islamisation of the Valley but also the apologists for Muslim fanaticism.