The current comprehensive crackdown on Jama’at-e-Islami though not unprecedented is unique at the same in many respects.In the past whenever there was a ban placed on it, it was on the instigation of local political players. It is interesting to note that when emergency was declared in India in 1975 by Mrs Gandhi, Jam’at was left out of its purview. At the most they were perceived to pose a threat to the political arithmetic of the state power politics as they also challenged Indra –Abdullah Accord . It was Sheikh Abdullah who put even their legislators behind bars. But Mrs Gandhi lifted the ban and enabled them to participate in both parliamentary and Assembly elections from 1977 onwards.Again the ban was put on it in 1990 and lifted in 1993.
As every Kashmiri, they too supported freedom struggle but were Initially averse to militancy in 1990 but later supported it. After brutal onslaught on Jama’at members and cadres by the state, the organization became almost dormant politically but continued with their invaluable contributions in the field of education, advocacy of religion, social service to the down trodden and marginalised sections of the society, more so to the education of destitute orphans and preservation of Islamic culture and values. Hence they had ceased to be a ‘ threat to any internal security’ long back when they were almost decimated and hence the question of their ‘unlawful activities’ does not arise.The question which arises is that what is unique and special about the teachings of Jamaat e islami which sets it apart from other religious organizations and vulnerable to the state high handedness.
To answer that question we have to go back to the inception of this organisation in undivided India when Maulana Maududi founded it in 1941 in Lahore having initially 75 well educated members.
It was established with the objective of reviving Deen (religion) which implied a reconstruction and renaissance of the exegesis of Quran,Sunnah and Islamic theology in line with discovered scientific knowledge and modern temper .Maududi undertook the task of reinterpreting Quran in the light of the knowledge made available by scientific research .The muslims of his time were drenched in illiteracy and un Islamic conventions, beliefs and superstitions and had forgotten the dynamic, vibrant and scientific message and temper of Islam which invites people to move on earth, to think, to meditate on the wonders of nature, to explore it and this world as also on the purpose of human life. In fact it was a message of constant striving and struggle rather than inaction and inertia. He was disgusted with the sorry state of affairs in muslims and wanted to cultivate a scientific temper in them as was tried before him by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and gave a call for action to fight the hermetorial life style of sluggishness and mental indolence in which most muslims had taken the defeatist refuge after the end of Moghal rule in India.So the purpose was not either to gain political power or a limited social service but to raise genuine Islamic consciousness and revolutionize the behaviours and conduct of muslims’ in this life- here and now- to succeed in the hereafter.Reinterpretation of Quran was done to satisfy the modern mind at the same time who were not quite satisfied with traditional exegesis as that had not taken into consideration the new developments in science which did not exist at the times in which they lived.
There was a young science graduate in Srinagar Saad –u-din who was attracted to this new call through Madudi’s literature and along with other two friends Qari Saifudin and Gh Ahmad Ahrar of Shopian founded JK Jamaat e Islami after participating in a jamaat All India conference in 1945. So it predates Kashmiri struggle for the right to self determination.The objective was reiterated as Iqaamat e Deen, establishment of God’s religion with the desire to earn God’s pleasure and success in the hereafter.They also spelled out their methodology of achieving their objective through peaceful and democratic means while working for reformation and changing of the decadent consciousness of their people.
Therefore their basic purpose was to serve the cause of Islam in our day to day lives and not to establish Mumlekat e khudadad in political terms. The influence of their teaching was felt wherever they worked in terms of establishing Islamic cultural values of daily conduct and cultivating scientific temper through their teachings.I have always been impressed by the people influenced by Jamaat’s love of all branches of knowledge and reading habits , by their logical coherent talk, informed speech, affable manners, soft skills and good command over Urdu and better pronunciation . After the Jamaat bore the brunt of state oppression and suffered hugely, it transformed itself and has been politically silent for the past more than 15 years while carrying on with their educational and social work alone. Some people say they even supported PDP covertly at the hustings. Keeping these facts in view,the current crackdown on them is completely unwarranted, unjustified, undemocratic, unethical and against all constitutional safeguards for religious organizations who peacefully carry their work of advocacy and contribute their bit to educational and social life. We urge the govt of India to lift the ban on Jamaat immediately, release all its members and cadres who have been picked up, defreeze their accounts and let them live normal lives. This is not a crack down on few people but on an entire society because of their grass root base, vast reach and influence. If the GoI thinks they can stamp out all resistance to their rule by such high handedness, they are labouring under misconception. This will only increase people’s anger and hatred manifold in the entire society and make any reconciliation impossible. You can’t wish away the issue by denying it but wisdom lies in addressing it to resolve it for all times to let the whole south Asia live in peace and harmony If you have the claim that Kashmiris are your own citizens, then you have to prove it by respecting their rights and not destroy the whole society like this.It is not some fascist ideology that you are trampling over but a particular civilizational force that will only grow stronger and break boundaries forcibly to find the outlet to sustain and perpetuate itself.
Hamida Bano, Professor , Department of English, University of Kashmir