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Flag of Paradox In Kashmir

By Sazzad Hussain

12 August, 2015

The spurt in Kashmir valley of waving anti-India flags by separatist has been on since the formation of the PDP-BJP government in the state. It has increased following the initiatives by Chief Minister Mufti Mohd. Sayed to bring back the separatists to the mainstream as promised in his poll campaigns. This policy of Sayed will continue as the separatists had a role in holding the assembly polls peacefully. But the anti-Indian forces in the valley are taking advantage of this policy and waving the flags of Pakistan and IS in every Fridays while demonstrating against India. The weaving of the Pakistani flag in Kashmir valley is nothing new, but that of IS in recent times is a matter of great concern. But above all the waving of the Palestinian flag there seems paradoxical so far as the problem of Kashmir vis-à-vis the west Asian conflict is concerned.

The separatist movement of Kashmir dates back to 1947. But it was never a religious issue. The present Jihadi elements penetrated in 1989 following the end of the Pak-Saudi-US sponsored anti-Soviet Afghan Jihad in Afghanistan when Islamabad wanted to extend it Kashmir. However, the Indian Muslims, which is the second highest in the world, have never supported to this Jihadi designs in Kashmir. The Pakistan supported Kashmiri Jihadists also has no association with global terror groups like Al-Qaeda though Kashmir figures in the worldwide agenda of the outfit. But a trend has started in Kashmir to share the meteoric rise of IS as it conquered a vast swathe of territories in the Middle-East and attracted recruits overseas. The present age of social media has made it easy to access, follow and spread any ideology of any organization or force. The IS flag is waved in Kashmir with such an objective and as a token challenge to the Indian state. The Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parikkar has rightly said to ignore such flag waving incidents by the media. But such news reaches the masses through social media.

However the flag that is creating confusion in Kashmir is that of Palestine. The anti-India forces have recently once waved this tricolor along with the flags of Pakistan, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and IS. Their stand is that the issue of Kashmir and Palestine is synonymous and it requires Jihad. Earlier in 1988 the Palestinian flag was waved in Kashmir by a Islamic Students League, a defunct organization and in 2014. But the paradox here is that the Palestine problem is not a religious one. It crisis began in 1948 following the creation of Israel in Palestine by its colonial administrator for the European Jews that had been victimized in WW-II. The Jewish militias, coming from Europe expelled local Arab populations from their homes leading to the start of this conflict called Naqba with hundred thousands refugees. The policies by right-wing Israeli governments to settle Jewish immigrants from across the globe in occupied Arab lands led to the armed resistance by Palestinians. All the efforts to liberate Palestine from Israel—the war of 1948, 1967 by combined Arab nations, the Yom-Kippur War of 1973 etc were fought in the name of nationality, not Islam or any religion. Many commanders of Arab nations engaged in these wars were Christians. The highest collective authority of the Palestinian liberation movement—the PLO, formed in 1964 is a conglomerate of socialist and left-wing armed groups whose character is essentially secular and inclusive. The PLO had Christian leaders like George Habbas, Ghazi Hanana, Emile Georguie, Dr. Hannan Ashrawi and Kamal Naser from the very beginning. Sirhan Sirhan, the assassin of Robert Kennedy and Wadi Haddad, who created notoriety by kidnapping many airliners for the Palestine cause during 1960s and 70s were Christian Palestinian. The person who drafted the constitution of Palestine National Council was late Dr. Edward Said, a Christian who had became a refugee during his childhood. The PLO chairman Yasser Arafat was always the chief guest at the midnight mass of Christmas at Bethlehem’s Church of Nativity. When Arafat was detained by Israel in his Ramallah residence in 2001-02, the Church authorities kept his chair empty during the mass with his custom made keffieh as a mark of respect to him and solidarity to the Palestinian struggle. It was Israel who founded Hamas, an Islamist Palestinian militant group, in 1987 to undermine the unified Palestinian resistance. However after a long and bloody struggle, Hamas has made reconciliation with PLO. On the contrary the Jihadi groups like Al-Qaeda, Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba have not been successful in setting their feet in Palestine or to fight against the Israeli forces. They have been killing innocent people in Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere by only threatening the West.

India has an unequivocal support for the Palestine’s freedom from the very beginning. New Delhi has been very active politically and diplomatically for the Palestinian cause and had no diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv till 1993. Yasser Arafat was accorded official chief guest honour at 1982 Delhi Asiad. New Delhi also was the first capital city to open the Palestine embassy in the world. It established diplomatic relations with Israel only after the Palestine Peace Treaty signed in 1993. As all Indians has support for the Palestinian cause, the effort to give a religious colour to it seems to be paradoxical. Some years back the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind also tried to mobilize support religiously for this cause by holding Palestine Day in the mosques of Assam. Any attempt to dilute religion with the Palestine cause is an insult to this great liberation movement.

Israel still continues the policy of building settlements for Jewish immigrants in occupied Palestine earning worldwide condemnation. On the contrary New Delhi has given special status to Jammu and Kashmir barring outsiders to buy lands there. This there is no parallel between Palestine and Kashmir issue. It is the separatists, who are fast loosing their relevancy, are waving the flags of paradox in Kashmir to assert their existence.

(The writer teaches English at Lakhimpur Commerce College)


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