ISSN 2330-717X

Desecrating Mosques In Kashmir – OpEd


While the Indian army was giving a befitting reply to the PLA personnel in the Galwan Valley standoff in Ladakh, security forces and local Police in Kashmir Valley was continuing its uninterrupted run of successful anti-terrorist operations. So, while the heroic stand of our brave army men in Galwan that taught the Chinese a lesson they’ll never forget, security forces and JK police in Kashmir too have been giving Pakistan’s proxies sleepless nights as is evident from Muttahida Jihad Council chief Syed Salahuddin’s recent public admission that “Despite the setback in Handwara, Indian forces continue to be in a strong position.” 

That the abrogation of Article 370 has completely demolished Pakistan’s fallacious Kashmir narrative is evident from the fact that despite its diplomatic blitz to discredit India, no one has come out in its support. Infact, with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s unending monologue on an impending ‘false flag operation’ by Indian army and allegation of institutionalised oppression of Muslims in India conclusively proves that he now has nothing to say on the Kashmir issue per se. Furthermore, with Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa’s repeated assurances that Pakistan is army standing by the people of Kashmir and is willing to go to “any extent” for them, it’s amply clear that both Islamabad and Rawalpindi have actually lost their Kashmir plot.

The crowning glory of the recent series of successes is that the security forces have been able to neutralise several terrorists with almost zero collateral damage and minimal casualties to their own troops. Also, since these operations are based on extremely accurate information and in specific location where terrorists are holed up, the entire population of the locality isn’t inconvenienced. But two things make this achievement even more remarkable; one, it speaks volumes about the professional acumen of security forces (SF) and their genuine concern for public safety. Two, it demonstrates the high degree of public support in terms locals providing timely and accurate information about whereabouts of terrorists to the SF. 

The pro-Pakistan camp and terrorist groups have consistently tried to downplay this encouraging trend by claiming that this is the handiwork of just a few rotten apples, who for the lure of money, are acting as ‘mukhbirs’ (informants) for the SF. To popularise this narrative as well as strike terror into the masses, Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) terrorists have not only abducted and ruthlessly killed innocent Kashmiris on suspicion, but also compounded their barbarity by recording videos of these cold-blooded murders and posting them on social media. However, the irony is that former HM ‘operation commander’ Riyaz Naikoo, who ordered such videos to be made and had warned that ‘mukhbirs’ would be executed, himself ended up being neutralised by SF based on information provided by a local.

Another notable joint achievement of SF and JK Police is last Thursday’s operation in Meej area of Pampore where two terrorists who had taken refuge in a mosque were neutralised. The sacrilegious practice of terrorists defiling a mosque and other Holy shrines by entering them with weapons is not new. Au contraire, this was very much part of a premeditated plan right since the nineties as is evident from the occupation of Hazratbal (1993) and Charar e Sharif (1995) by terrorists. The aim was simple- compel SF to attack the holed-up terrorists and once this happened, set the shrine ablaze (Like what was done at Charar e Sharif) and then arouse religious passions by alleging that it was an intentional act directed against Islam.  

The Jamia Masjid (main mosque) of Panzan village in Budgam district bears testimony to the scant regards that those call themselves “mujahideen’ (Holy warriors) have for holy places of their faith. In 2002, this mosque had to bear the brunt of an encounter as the two terrorists holed-up inside refused to vacate the premises despite requests from the Masjid Auqaf Committee and offer of a ‘safe passage’ offer by SF. The damaged wooden structure was replaced by a concrete construction but in September 2018, this mosque once again became the scene of an encounter when two terrorists hiding inside refused to leave despite appeals by locals and SF and instead took positions on the higher floors and kept firing on the search party. 

Several other mosques in Kashmir have also been similarly desecrated by terrorists. In March 2000, three LeT terrorists took refuge in the Dodhipora mosque located in the outskirts of Handwara and on their refusal to vacate it, were killed. In April 2006, a HM militant who had taken up position inside a mosque in Akoora village in the Mattan area and was firing at the SF was neutralised. In Sep 2007, two HM terrorists holed up in a mosque in Tujan village of Central Kashmir were killed by SF. In 2009, three Lashkar e Taiba (LeT) terrorists who were being chased by SF in mountainous area of Keshwan in Kishtwar district, took refuge in a Kishtwar mosque and used it as a battlement before they were killed by SF. The list goes on.

Besides defiling religious shrines by entering it with weapons, terrorists even went to the extent of using mosques to hide weapons. In June 2002, acting on a tipoff, the Special Operations Group of JK Police discovered a huge cache of weapons, ammunition and explosives from a specially constructed hideout in Mandirbagh mosque in uptown Srinagar. The recoveries included two AK rifles, three rocket launchers, 10 improvised explosive devices and 12 kg explosives. In May 2017, one AK-47 rifle and three magazines which had been buried there by terrorists were unearthed during renovation of Lashipora village mosque in Rajwar area of Handwara district in J&K. 

It goes to the credit of security forces and JK Police that they neutralised the terrorists who had desecrated the Meej mosque without causing any damage to this Holy site by using tear gas to flush him out. The positive role played by the clergy, masjid committees and village elders in not letting such incidents acquire a communal hue deserves appreciation. But what needs to be remembered is that since Pakistan has no locus standi on Kashmir today, it will most certainly play the communal card and there’s a high probability that terrorists will do things that force SF to react and should there be any collateral damage, then the same can be portrayed as a deliberate attack directed against the community and religion.

Many are reaping benefits from the ongoing violence in Kashmir and since their survival depends on it, they will go to any extent to ensure that this ‘terrorism industry’ doesn’t shut shop. Therefore, even though popularity of the so called ‘freedom struggle’ is waning due to the gross misdeeds and highhandedness of self-proclaimed ‘mujahideen’, those masterminding terrorist activities will try their best to spread canard of ‘threat’ to Islam in Kashmir so that the youth can be lured into picking up the gun. With ‘azadi’ (freedom) no more an option and Pakistan’s rhetoric sans any action, telling the youth to rise and follow their religious calling by becoming ‘Ghazis’ (a Muslim hero, especially one who wars against infidels) is the obvious ‘devil’s alternative’.

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Nilesh Kunwar

Nilesh Kunwar is a retired Indian Army Officer who has served in Jammu & Kashmir, Assam, Nagaland and Manipur. He is a ‘Kashmir-Watcher,’ and now after retirement is pursuing his favorite hobby of writing for newspapers, journals and think tanks.

2 thoughts on “Desecrating Mosques In Kashmir – OpEd

  • June 23, 2020 at 11:33 pm

    Rule Nº 1 of propaganda:

    Make it at least believable, and use moderate terms to make your case, so as to conceal your prejudices.

    Suggest you start by reading Josef Goebbels, who got it right nearly a century ago.

    As it is, you just sound ridiculous.

    • July 2, 2020 at 4:28 am

      Thanx for your unsolicited advice… SIr, choice of terms I choose is my prerogative and if they go above your head, the fault lies with your comprehension abilities. I’d rather have you contest facts cited rather than shooting in the dark…. Lastly, I suggest you switch to Enid Blyton or Biggles!


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