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Why grenades are lobbed at mosques in Kashmir

The attacks on mosques speak of desperate attempt by a minority of extremists to impose their will on a vast majority of moderate Muslims, reports Arun Joshi.

india Updated: Nov 12, 2006 00:32 IST
Arun Joshi

A wider and sinister plot appears to be at work in Kashmir. The attacks on mosques speak of desperate attempt by a minority of extremists to impose their will through terror on a vast majority of moderate and liberal Muslims in the Kashmir Valley.

The ideological conflict between those who believe in shrines and those who do not has assumed violent shape. The extremist elements, opposed to believers in shrines, have resorted to the violent methods.

In June this year, they lobbed a grenade at the house of Ahad Baba revered sage in Sopore in north Kashmir, killing two of his followers and wounding more than 30 others. And on Friday, they targeted another religious leader. Both the attempts to kill the moderate religious leaders - believers in the shrines - failed. But extremists have not given up.

Moulvi Abdul Rashid Dawoodi, who was the target of Friday's grenade attack at a mosque in Tahab in Pulwama, 45 km south of summer capital Srinagar, said, "The attack on him was an attempt to silence his voice of moderation."

Dawoodi, 29, a student of a moderate religious scholar and leader Qazi Nissar - the Mirwaiz of South Kashmir who was assassinated in Anantnag in June 1994 - told Hindustan Times over phone from his bed at Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, Srinagar, that "those having an issue with him should come forward and debate. Let them tell me, where I am wrong."

"As far as I am concerned," the priest from Harnag, Anantnag in South Kashmir, said, "I am a religious preacher. I will continue to do that. These attacks will not deter me from my path."

"It is in the interest of the whole Kashmir," he said, that "the police should investigate and bring out the truth as to who was involved in the attack." He claimed that he had been target of such violent attacks by extremists in the past as well.

The police are convinced that "Hizb-ul-Mujahadeen terrorists were behind the attack."

"It was handiwork of Hizb-ul-Mujahadeen", Kashmir police chief SM Sahai said. "There is no doubt about it," he said on the basis of what he described the initial information and investigation of police.

Sahai is very clear. "It was an attack by Hizb-ul-Mujahadeen on the moderates. This is as simple as that."

Friday's grenade was part of this "emerging dangerous pattern", he said.

There have been such attacks in the past too.

No group has claimed responsibility. But facts are self-speaking. There was a grenade attack at the mosque, and obviously the targets were the preacher and the followers six of them died and 60 others wounded in the attack, which have added new statistics of the endless violence in the Valley.

More than 50,000 people have died in Kashmir in the past 17 years.

The facts are that someone did throw the grenade with a clear objective to kill and wound the people. Of all the places, the choice of the place of the attack, a mosque, is reprehensible to the psyche of majority of Kashmiri Muslims.

They respect shrines, and visit mystics to seek salvation through their visits at the shrines of Baba Rishi in Tangmarg, Baba Shukur-ud-Din in Watlab, Bandipore, Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Noorani at Charar-e-Sharief and so many other shrines of the sages in the valley, whose message of peace and harmony is at the heart of Kashmiri ethos, often described as "Kashmiriyat" - mutual love and co-existence between one and all, irrespective of their faith.

In Kashmir, all the major shrines - from Hazratbal to Rishi Baba and Aishmuqam are protected by police, a sure sign of their being the sign of hostility of those against the cult of shrines in the Valley.

There have been attacks at Charar-e-Sharief Shrine, Makhdoom Sahib and so many others in the recent years.