JAMAAT-e-Islami of Jammu & Kashmir is a cadre-based socio-political organisation that came into being in the early 20th century. The main aim of the founding fathers of the Jamaat was to spread the teachings of Islam to achieve positive socio-structural changes in the society, and impart modern scientific education to Kashmir’s nascent middle class and eradicate folk Islam. Even as it stood on a concrete foundation, Jamaat-e-Islami has had to witness a tumultuous journey in the landscape of Jammu and Kashmir due to certain vested interests and ambitions.
The Jamaat-e-Islami of Jammu & Kashmir has taken a path much different from its counterparts in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Although it continues to work with the same ideological framework as the other two, the trajectory of Jamaat’s development has been different. In the past, Jamaat fought elections in Kashmir with a huge fanfare, and after the birth of insurgency, the Jamaat stayed away from mainstream politics and announced its allegiance to separatism. This entanglement of Jamaat with separatism leads to the witch-hunt by its members towards the mainstream ideologues.
The present dispensation of the BJP government in 2019 banned the Jamaat for five years under an anti-terror law on grounds that it was “in close touch” with militant outfits and was expected to “escalate secessionist movement” in the state. A notification, banning the group under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, was issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs after a high-level meeting on security, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The ban was followed by a massive crackdown on the outfit in the Valley. Around 150 leaders and activists of the outfit have been detained in raids across Kashmir. Several properties belonging to the outfit or its leaders have been seized by the government since the ban was imposed.
The ban in 2019 was the third such ban imposed upon Jamaat. Earlier, it was banned for the first time in 1975 by the then J&K’s CM Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah for two years and subsequently for three years. Later, when another Kashmiri – Mufti Mohammad Sayeed – was the country’s Home Minister, a ban was imposed on JeI again in 1990.
• The present Jamaat tactics
During the Assembly elections of the erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir in 2014, it was a known fact that JeI en-mass voted for People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in South Kashmir. The alliance between Jamaat and PDP has roots in history. Under the guise of being a socio-religious organisation, the JeI has made a number of alliances with mainstream parties in Kashmir and influenced the former governments at the Centre too. Being portrayed as a religious organisation, Jamaat took notorious benefits from the successive governments of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. They have always tried to influence decision-making in the political sphere of the State and mobilise people to keep the atmosphere vicious.
Today, as per sources, Jamaat is in secret talks with different mainstream parties here in Kashmir. As the five-year ban on the JeI nears to end in a couple of weeks, the Jamaat activists and leaders are on their toes to formulate secret alliances and pacts with the regional parties of Kashmir. The Jamaat has little credibility to save its house but the vote bank it carried in some pockets of Valley forced mainstream parties to obey their engagement and alliance.
Jamaat, which was on the forefront to wrest out Kashmir from mainland India and integrate the region with Pakistan, are claiming their allegiance to the country. It’s a welcome move if Jamaat shuns its ideology and appears on the mainstream sphere of Jammu and Kashmir. But the way Jamaat swears secret allegiance with different parties, it looks like a new tactic to deceive the amateur politicians of Jammu and Kashmir and the move is sheer hoax.
There shall be no secret dealings to swear allegiance with the country. Hiding behind the screen and projecting themselves as pseudo-nationalists will have future repercussions and could dent the image which the Union Government has created after the abrogation of Article 370. The interference in the political and administrative landscape of Kashmir is the old ploy of Jamaat to run its business and not to come to the forefront to accept the integration of Kashmir with the rest of the country. It’s time for mainstream politicians in the Valley to not fall prey to the ideology which has lit fire in the neighbouring countries of Pakistan and Bangladesh.
The Jamaat has a secessionist stand on J&K. It maintains that J&K is a “disputed territory”, and seeks its resolution through “right to self-determination”. Despite being vocal on self-determination, Jamaat hides behind the mainstream parties in the Valley to save its base and to offer votes to these parties in return. This unholy alliance, as per sources, is still doing rounds and in the future after the ban expires, the Jamaat will do every possible move to remain relevant and play the shots secretly.