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So, how do we tackle radical Islamist terror?

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Prasenjeet Kumar
Prasenjeet Kumar
An author who has written thirty books, six of which centre around Kashmir — You Can’t Kill My Love: A Kashmir Holocaust Love Story, Still Missing…, Kashmir is Free and Kashmir Thinks It’s Free and Kashmir is Free Finally (co-authored with his father Dr. Arun Kumar (IAS) Retd.), the Outsider’s Tales and a non-fiction memoir Unmasking Kashmir/The Outsider’s Curse (co-authored with his mother Sonali Kumar (IAS) Retd.) You can contact him at: [email protected]

The masks have dropped en masse. There was a time when journalists were asked not to identify the rioters’ communities, and, so, we had to be content with the information that members of a certain community killed so many members of another community. Then came the phase where you could mention that a Muslim was lynched but not the other way around. Now, when Non-Muslims are being identified and killed indiscriminatingly by Muslim terrorists in Kashmir and Bangladesh and Pakistan and Afghanistan, even the Hindustan Times wakes up and notes editorially: “The context may be different, the roots of the violence may be different, the actors may be different, but there is a clear culprit. Islamist extremism…. It is uncomfortable with other cultural and religious groups, and hatred for the other is a key precept of its ideological project….”

Fantastic! That’s some progress! Now no one is claiming that these killings of non-Muslims could be linked to unemployment, exploitation, dispossession… of anyone in Kashmir – explanations once bandied to justify the expulsion of lakhs of Kashmiri Pandits in 1990. Now no one is defending the terrorists’ right to kill poor golguppa sellers or carpenters or teachers who are in Kashmir to earn their livelihood – just as there can be no justification for harassing any Kashmiri Muslim who goes to Delhi, Goa, Kolkata, Kovalam, or Mumbai to sell Kashmiri shawls or carpets or apples or almonds.

But have we looked deep into the motivations of the killers who indulge in such ghastly, dastardly acts? That’s not really difficult. We just need to go through the testimonies of an Islamist terrorist like Ajmal Kasab who is caught alive and then sings like a canary without much goading. As a Muslim, he will tell you on your face, he has to kill non-Muslim/ non-believers because that’s his holy duty. As his reverend Maulana in some Madrasa has told him. The Maulana has also told him that if he dies in the process, his seat in the Islamic paradise, with his exclusive reward of 72 hoories, is assured! 

To a non-Muslim, this may sound ridiculous. But the harsh truth is that many young Muslims all over the world believe in this propaganda, and we are not able to do much to counter it. The poor illiterate terrorist can’t read the Holy Book himself. So, he has to believe his Maulana who persuades him to undergo the 15-day ‘military training’ that the kind souls in the Pakistani Army impart to mujaheedin like him.

That all is well-known. But what do we at the receiving end do? De-radicalize such ‘misguided youth’ by appealing to their inner humanity? Or, by proving that his Maulana was a buffoon and a bigot? Easier said than done!

Then what else? Carry on with our current strategy, of identifying such terrorists and their supporters, and ‘neutralising’ them? As our brave J&K police personnel under the dynamic leadership of their DGP Dilbagh Singh and ably aided by a host of military and para-military forces keep on doing day and night?

Keep on talking to Pakistan and bombing their terrorist training centres, once in a while?

Sure, but is there any other way to plug this seemingly unending supply of Islamist terrorists and to stem this problem at its source? Can’t we as a nation of 1.3 billion people come up with de-radicalisation modules that could help youngsters up to the age of thirty abandon the idea of jihad and come back to the mainstream?

“Why thirty? And after thirty?” you may ask.

After thirty, we find all jihadis preferring to become politicians; so, don’t bother!

We have spent over 1000 pages discussing the problems of Kashmir, Pakistan, and radical Islam, and come up with some solutions in our “Kashmir is Free” trilogy.

Discussing a few of those prescriptions here, we hope, will be in national interest and will not spoil the suspense for readers who still wish to plod through this entire series. So, here they are:

First, abolish Sections 153-A and 295-A of the Indian Penal Code, that deal with inciting communal hatred and outraging the religious feelings of any Indian citizen. This has literally become our blasphemy law. If we are a free country, where freedom of expression is guaranteed under our constitution, then why do we have such restrictions?

To this, a character in our book argues back, “Interesting idea… but will that solve any problems? Suppose tomorrow we abolish Section 153-A and 295-A of the IPC, won’t that be the signal to start abusing the holy icons of all religions? Someone raises a question on the Prophet’s marriage to a 9-year-old Aisha, another about the chastity of Sita when she was released from Ravan’s captivity, another about the virgin birth of Jesus … where will all these debates lead to? As a developing economy, can we afford to fritter away our energies by indulging in such stupid debates?”

True, but can we reform Islam if Muslims and other communities are prevented from debating its tenets, beliefs, and practices. Historically Section 295-A was drafted by the British to shield Islam from criticism and to save prominent Arya Samaj members from getting murdered for daring to criticise Islam. Now, legally speaking, a 19th century penal provision that violates our constitutional right of Freedom of Expression should be considered unconstitutional ab initio, especially when our ‘freedom of expression’ is not absolute. It already has some limits in the guise of ‘reasonable restrictions,’ which include the sovereignty and integrity of India, security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency, and morality, contempt of court, defamation, and incitement to an offence …. So, currently, you have to tailor your debates about any religion within the boundaries of these restrictions, which should be enough.

If this is done, then our second prescription is to use humour on a big scale. We could enlist writers and artists (and pay them) to create jokes, skits, cartoons, memes, and videos which could be circulated on social media like WhatsApp and YouTube to help challenge this jihadi ideology and mind-set.

Third, we could employ translators to translate successful campaigns in all popular languages of the world because this mindset, believe it or not, is a global problem.

Fourth, we should identify and encourage thought-leaders, debaters, TV anchors…, who are not scared to go live to confront mullahs and Islam-apologists on TV, and who can tell the latter to introspect about the world-wide movement of Muslims leaving Islam. We should familiarize them with the research conducted by such scholars as Ali Sina, Robert Spencer, and even Ridvan Aydemir, a Turkish ex-Muslim, who runs a YouTube channel called ‘Apostate Prophet’, claiming, “I’m a learned former Muslim who focuses on factual and fair criticism of my former religion Islam in the light of experience, knowledge, and reasoning accompanied by a healthy amount of satire. Don’t take it personally.”

Fifth, we should work on an abridged version of the Quran which may have none of the violent or controversial verses about non-believers, women, Jews, etc. Let Assauddin Owaisi who claims such verses don’t exist/ are invented by “Hazrat-i-Google” head a committee to complete this work. Let Naseeruddin Shah and Javed Akhtar who wish to have their own brand of reformed Indian Islam participate in this exercise. This version along with similar abridged versions of the Bible or the Upanishads or the Torah could be taught to children of 10-12 years of age in some kind of a non-credit moral science class so that they have positive feelings about all religions.

Sixth, come down hard on madrasas. Let every state government stipulate that all financial assistance to madrasas shall be subject to their following the Central Board of School Education syllabus, and let’s see if their students then, CBSE being CBSE, will have time for anything else like killing non-believers!

Seventh, let us introduce a chapter for our Civics/ Political Science class maybe, to help discuss all kinds of social evils, such as sati or caste system for Hindus, witch burning, inquisition, and crusades for Christians, triple talaq, jihad, and killing of infidels and apostates for Muslims.

Eighth, on the urban planning side, let us identify communal ghettos and encourage people from other communities also to live and work there. This may ensure that people belonging to one religion don’t gang up and plan extermination of other communities.

Ninth, let us implement strictly and impartially laws, that are already there, against encroachment, noise pollution, etc. For example, we need to either impose penalties on mosques, or any other religious structure, that is built unauthorisedly, if the offence be ‘compoundable,’ or demolish them, if the offence can’t be regularised. Similarly, if there are laws against the use of loudspeakers, we have to enforce those with an iron-hand, regardless of whether it involves a temple, mosque, or gurdwara.

And finally, we need to keep on reminding Indian Muslims that they share the same DNA and cultural moorings as their Hindu brethren, that their ancestors didn’t come from Arabia riding a donkey, that they are in no way superior to those who didn’t convert, and in fact, it’s they, the Muslims, who deserve pity and sympathy that their ancestors gave in to the inhuman torture of Muslim invaders and agreed to embrace Islam.

If we implement even half of these recommendations, we may avoid the extreme steps that the Chinese Government is reportedly taking in Uighur. These include a ban on keeping the name Mohammad, ban on observing rojas, ban on sporting of beards, ban on burkas, and so on. There are rumours galore about how they deal with suicide bombers. Apparently, they garland their bodies or whatever is left of the body with pork sausages and bury them with that. That ensures that the jihadis never enter Jannat! Or, they cremate them, along with a pig’s ears or something like that, and that too ensures that they never reach Jannat, as per their own jihadi logic!

Let us hope we never come to that stage!

By: Dr. Arun Kumar IAS (J&K) Retd. and Prasenjeet Kumar, authors of the “Kashmir is Free” trilogy

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Prasenjeet Kumar
Prasenjeet Kumar
An author who has written thirty books, six of which centre around Kashmir — You Can’t Kill My Love: A Kashmir Holocaust Love Story, Still Missing…, Kashmir is Free and Kashmir Thinks It’s Free and Kashmir is Free Finally (co-authored with his father Dr. Arun Kumar (IAS) Retd.), the Outsider’s Tales and a non-fiction memoir Unmasking Kashmir/The Outsider’s Curse (co-authored with his mother Sonali Kumar (IAS) Retd.) You can contact him at: [email protected]
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