Indian Constitution is among the finest globally because it provides freedom of religion
Jamaat e Islami (J&K) has been supporting terrorist organizations, especially Hizb ul Mujahideen right from its inception. JeI has also been the strident supporter of the merger of Jammu and Kashmir with Pakistan.
Jamaat became powerful especially after the PDP government led by Mufti Sayeed came into power in Jammu and Kashmir. PDP, which was formed by the former Congress leaders and cadre in Kashmir, pandered to Jamaat and Hizbul Mujahideen to win the elections. From symbolism like Mehbooba Mufti wearing green scarves and abhaya to the healing touch policy for militants, PDP did everything to get Jamaat’s vote share.
In a startling and amusing development some days ago, Jamaat e Islami J&K’s three former Amirs (Chiefs) denied having any nexus with terrorist organizations. The three Amirs also distanced JeI from any financing of terrorist organizations.
In an email press statement, the former Amirs said that Jamaat has time and again made it clear that it has no direct or tacit link with any militant group, and insisted that all such allegations against the Jamaat are false. Sheikh Ghulam Hassan, Ghulam Mohammad Bhat and Mohammad Abdullah Wani, the former Amirs, claimed that Jamaat has never believed in agitational politics and never employed any methods which might disturb the law-and-order situation or cause strife. “Jamaat always employed propagatory methods, verbal as well as written, to carry forward its mission, programmes and policies which were beneficial for the entire human society. But despite this fact, it was banned and declared as an ‘unlawful association’ a number of times without any rhyme or reason, leveling such allegations which had no basis but were all against the facts, in total ignorance of the real situation,” they claimed. The statement further stated that the “public services of the organization were ignored” while banning the outfit on “flimsy and concocted allegations”. The statement said that Jamaat is a “peaceful, democratic and transparent” organization.
“Jamat was made for propagating Islamic teachings among the public in its pristine form and for the social services of the humanity without any discrimination…(Jamaat was made) in particular to provide material assistance to the economically and educationally downtrodden section of the general public from its lawfully created resources,” they stated. Distancing the Jamaat from separatist politics, the three former Chiefs said that the organization has not been a constituent of the separatist conglomerate Hurriyat Conference for a long time.
Team KZINE went to meet Sheikh Ghulam Hassan in his native village Tarigam in Kulgam for a candid conversation.
Sir, what is your say with regard to the NIA raids on Jamaat?
There is no legal sanction to these raids. They are without any justification because Jamaat is a non-violent, democratic and pro-state organization. These raids have no validity.
In your joint statement, you claimed that Jamaat is a democratic organization and Jamaat believes in democracy. Which democracy do you believe in? Do you believe in Indian democracy?
We have democracy in our organization which means we have no family rule in our organization. Jamaat Rokuns (Members) elect Amir Jamaat. In this way we have democratic setup in our organization. Every post is filled through voting, including the post of Chief of Jamaat, Majlis E Shora etc. We like democracy in every sphere of life. Democracy is better than dictatorship.
Yes, we believe in Indian democracy but India claims to be the world’s largest democracy. That is not true as India lacks some basic tenets of democracy. Every section of the society is not treated equally today. We believe in democracy. We say that if there is no Islamic rule in a country, then democracy is the best alternative. Democracy is better than communist system of governance and other systems. In democracy we can express our own ideas freely. Hence we totally believe in Indian democracy, and this democracy should be implemented in letter and spirit.
Why did you issue the statement claiming Jamaat to be a peaceful, democratic and non-violent organization at a time when the government has decided to tighten the noose around the Jamaat?
We have written it in the note of our statement that we were about to give this statement before the NIA raids. But unfortunately NIA raided us before we could arrange for a press conference. So we decided to issue this statement after the raids. A copy of the statement was lying at the home of our former Spokesperson Advocate Zahid Ali, which NIA took with them. We then circulated the press note among different news agencies.
Sir, does Jamaat consider Kashmir as a disputed territory? What is the stand of Jamaat with regard to Kashmir?
America says that if India and Pakistan agree, we will mediate on the Kashmir issue. Pakistan is ready for it but India doesn’t agree. This means that America also considers Kashmir as disputed. The Kashmir issue is also pending in United Nations. United Nations has passed several resolutions with regard to the Kashmir issue. So Jamaat says that this issue should be resolved peacefully.
In the Indira-Bhutto accord, India accepts Kashmir as a bilateral issue. We don’t say anything on our own. Jamaat says that whatever you have said in past at the UN and as per Indira-Bhutto accord, solve this issue peacefully. We are being accused of supporting the merger of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh with Pakistan. That is wrong. We say it should be solved as per the aspirations of the people of J&K and Ladakh. Whatever the government of India and Pakistan will deem fit, we will abide by that. This does not amount to separatism. We want Government of India to solve the Kashmir issue by talking to Pakistan and the people of Kashmir. We want better relations between Pakistan and India. This is not a separatist stand. We want everything to be done peacefully.
Jamaat created militancy in Kashmir right from the early 1990s. The Jamaat got people with different political ideologies and loyalties killed. How do you defend that?
Yes, Hizb Ul Mujahideen said in the 1990s that we are the armed wing of Jamaat e Islami. At this time, top Jamaat leaders were in jails. There was no one outside to refute this. Even if we were out of jails at that time, we could not refute it fearing for our lives. When Jamaat leaders were released and the situation was somehow peaceful, then Jamaat chief Mr Ghulam Mohammad Bhat refuted the statement. He said that Jamaat has no concern with any militant organization. We never got any one killed. Allah Says in the Holy Quran that “Whosoever kills any innocent person (irrespective of religious belief) it shall be as if he killed whole of the humanity”. We want Islamic teachings to be prominent among one and all, so how can we act against the Quran? It is also against our constitution. No one has power to declare anyone guilty. It is only the courts that can declare anyone guilty and punish him/her as per law. No individual whatsoever can punish anyone.
See the youngsters who indulge in militancy and stone pelting are not mature people but are sentimental. Mature people, religious and other organizations do not indulge in these things. The government says Jamaat promotes violence and stone pelting, which is totally wrong. Former Jamaat chief Mr Ghulam Mohammad Bhat held a press conference in 1997, where he refuted all these allegations. Thereafter we worked for nearly 22 years in a good environment. But the current BJP government, under the influence of misinformation, is acting against us. We use donations collected by us for social causes. We don’t fund terrorism in any way. These things have been admitted by traders federations and different political organizations like People’s Conference led by Sajad Gani Lone. During the floods of 2014, the work done by Jamaat is unparalleled. We can’t get any other example like that.
Do you believe in the Indian Judiciary?
The Indian Judicial system is one of the best judicial systems in the world. It should always remain like it was in the past. Abdul Salam Kumar, one of our members Rokun E Jamaat was very active. He was highly regarded among all of us. He was a government teacher and his services were terminated. He challenged the order in J&K High Court. The court ruled in his favour and said that the order is vogue and unconstitutional. The government appealed against the order in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court also ruled in favour of Abdul Salam Kumar. This type of judicial system is praiseworthy. We expect the judicial system to be like this.
Do you believe in the Indian Constitution?
Indian Constitution is one of the finest Constitutions among all the world constitutions, because it provides freedom of religion. Every citizen has right to preach and practice their religion under the Indian constitution. It treats every religion equally. State has no religion of its own. We like this Constitution as we can preach our religion freely under this Constitution and we can create Islamic rule under this Constitution only. We want Indian Constitution to be implemented in letter and spirit.
If Jamaat accepts the Indian Constitution and terms it one of the best constitutions in world, why doesn’t Jamaat contest elections under this Constitution?
We contested parliamentary elections in 1971. From 1972 to 1984 we contested all the elections which were conducted in erstwhile state of J&K. We then formed Muslim Muttahida Mahaz (Muslim United Front) and contested elections in 1987. Most of the contestants were from Jamaat e Islami. Most of our men won, but central government and National conference rigged these elections and jailed us. So we decided not to contest elections anymore. We are not against the Indian Constitution but due to rigging we gave up elections.
Did Jamaat support PDP in the elections?
We have strong cadre in Kulgam. From 1996 Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami is fighting and winning continuously from Kulgam. We have brotherly terms with him, but ideologically he is our enemy. If we would have supported PDP, then Tarigami would have never won. This indicates that we have always boycotted these elections and not supported any political party.
If Jamaat claims to be democratic and non-violent, why are you more inclined towards Jamaat e Islami Pak? Why don’t you merge with Jamaat e Islami Hind?
No this is wrong. I served as Jamaat chief twice. During this tenure of six years I never talked to anyone from Pakistan. Founders of Jamaat e Islami J&K have kept this as a separate organization from Jamaat e Islami Hind. Several religious organizations are independent like Jamiat Ahlihadees. In Kashmir, Muslim population I more than any other part of India. We have more avenues of work, and so we kept this organization as an independent organization.
KZINE team also spoke to JeI Spokesman Advocate Zahid Ali on phone.
What is your stand with regard to NIA raids on Jamaat E Islami?
These raids are unconstitutional and baseless. These days Jamaat is banned and we don’t do any organizational work now. Everyone is doing their individual work. I was jailed in 2019 and released sometime ago. Organization does not exist now. Before ban we were working in a transparent manner. Any one working now is working in individual capacity.
The statement issued by three former Amirs that Jamaat is a peaceful, democratic and non-violent organization. Why has this been issued at a time when the government has decided to tighten its noose around Jamaat?
We had prepared this statement before NIA raids. NIA also took a copy of the statement from my house during the raid. On that very day when NIA raids were conducted against us, we had scheduled a press conference. NIA seized my laptop. This statement is typed in that laptop as well.
Jamaat created militancy in Kashmir right from the early 1990s and got people with different political ideologies and loyalties killed. How will you defend that?
Most of the Jamaat people were in Jails in 1990. We were banned then. We started work again in 1997 and we were working till 2019. We never indulged in any sort of violence. We never called for any strike or protest march. Those who called for shutdowns and protests were different organizations. We have nothing to do with them. I don’t understand why these allegations are being leveled against Jamaat.
What is your stand on the Kashmir issue?
It’s the issue of the public. Jamaat has not created it. Whatever people of J&K say with regard to Kashmir, we are with that only.
If Jamaat accepts the Indian Constitution and terms it as one of the best constitutions globally, then why don’t the Jamaat leaders contest elections under this constitution?
We contested elections in the past. In 1987 I myself contested. The elections were rigged and we were jailed. So we decided that we will not contest any more elections till some time.
If Jamaat claims to be democratic and non-violent, then why are you more inclined towards Jamaat e Islami Pak? Why don’t you merge with Jamaat e Islami Hind?
We don’t know anyone from Jamaat e Islami Pakistan. We know people from Jamaat e Islami Hind as they often come to Kashmir for many reasons and we share the same boundary. I was jailed before Jamaat was banned. They took those books, letter pads, other things which we were using before the ban and then say we are still working, which is wrong and baseless. We were peaceful, we are peaceful and we will be peaceful no matter what the government will do.
NIA Press Release Reg Raids on JeI
NIA conducted searches at multiple locations in 14 districts of Jammu and Kashmir in Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) Terror Funding Case. NIA along with JK Police and CRPF conducted searches at 56 locations in Districts of Srinagar, Budgam, Ganderbal, Baramulla, Kupwara, Bandipora, Anantnag, Shopian, Pulwama, Kulgam, Ramban, Doda, Kishtwar and Rajouri of J&K. The case was registered by NIA on in February 2021 in pursuance the order from Ministry of Home Affairs relating to separatist and secessionist activities of JeI, an unlawful association even after its proscription in February 2019. The members of the organization have been collecting funds domestically and abroad through donations particularly in the form of Zakat, Mowda and Bait-ul-Mal purportedly to further charity and other welfare activities. But these funds are instead being used for violent and secessionist activities. The funds raised by JeI are also being channelised to proscribed terrorist organizations such as Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM), Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and others through well organised networks of JeI cadres. JeI has also been motivating impressionable youth of Kashmir and recruiting new members (Rukuns) in J&K to participate in disruptive secessionist activities. The searches were conducted at the premises of office bearers of the proscribed association, its members and also offices of trusts purportedly run by JeI. During the searches today, various incriminating documents and electronic devices were seized from the premises of the suspects. Further investigation in the case continues.
Gen Zia aligned JeI J&K to wage proxy war against India
JeI Kashmir was established by Sa’aduddin and Maulana Ahrar a year after Maulana Maududi formed Jamaat e Islami Pakistan in Lahore in 1941. Historically, Kashmir’s Jamaat e Islami has been aligned with Pakistan’s Jamaat e Islami, which is separate from Jamaat e Islami Hind. According to Pakistani journalist Arif Jamal, the bond between Jamaat e Islami Kashmir and Jamaat e Islami Pakistan strengthened in 1983 after three years of secret meetings and negotiations in Kashmir, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. In his book Shadow War, Jamal mentions that Pakistan’s military dictator Gen Zia ul Haq had employed the services of Jamaat e Islami Amir of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK), Maulana Abdul Bari to reach out to Jamaat E Islami Kashmir’s founding Amir (chief) Sa’aduddin. Gen Zia sought the support of JeI Kashmir to wage a proxy war against India. Zia’s diabolic plot worked. Jamaat e Islami became the most vociferous supporter of the secessionist ideology in J&K. Separatist hawk Syed Ali Geelani was an important member of Jamaat E Islami.