The Indian government on Thursday banned the Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir organisation for five years under the anti-terror law on grounds that it was "in close touch" with militant outfits and is 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 notification said the Centre is of the opinion that the Islamic organisation operating in Jammu and Kashmir is "in close touch with militant outfits" and is supporting extremism and militancy in the state and elsewhere. It said the outfit claims "secession of a part of the Indian territory from the union" and supports terrorist and separatist groups fighting for this purpose.
The notification, which came a few days after the Jammu and Kashmir Police arrested around 100 cadres of the group in the state, said that the organisation has been indulging in activities intended to disrupt the territorial integrity of India.
During the intervening night of 22 and 23 February, the police had carried out a crackdown on Jamaat-e-Islami cadres and arrested 100 members across the Valley, including its chief Abdul Hamid Fayaz and advocate Zahid Ali, who is also the group's spokesperson. The action in the aftermath of the 14 February terrorist attack in Pulwama, in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed.
There have been allegations in the past that the group was a political outfit of banned terror organisation Hizbul Mujahideen, but the group has denied this claim. According to a report by Scroll, the Jamaat distanced itself from the Mujahideen in 1997.
The Centre is also of the opinion that the group is "involved in anti-national and subversive activities in the country intended to cause disaffection".
While banning it under the anti-terror law, the Centre reasoned that the group was intending to escalate its subversive activities, including an attempt to carve out an Islamic state out of the Union of India by destabilising the government established by law.
The outfit, which was formed in 1942 as a chapter of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind and separated in 1953 due to differences over political ideology with the parent body, was banned in 1990. The previous ban lapsed in 1995 and wasn't invoked again. It was founded during British India in 1941 by Abul Ala Maududi, an Islamic theologian and socio-political philosopher. Along with the Muslim Brotherhood, ('Ikhwan al-Muslimin', founded in 1928 Egypt), JeI was a first of its kind organisation to develop "an ideology based on the modern revolutionary conception of Islam.”
Maududi strongly believed that Islam is essential for politics and soon JeI became the first organisation to develop "an ideology based on the modern revolutionary concept of Islam.” The Islamist theologist believed secularism, nationalism, and socialism to be products of western imperialism and thought it necessary to establish sharia (Islamic Law).
A constitution for the Kashmir branch was drafted a year later and an 'amir' (president) was elected. The new 'amir', Sa'aduddin Tarbali, began preaching the Jamaat ideology, creating its base first in Shopian, Moneycontrol reported.
However, following the partition of India in 1947, JeI split into separate independent organisations in India and Pakistan — Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan and Jamaat-e-Islami Hind — respectively. Some reports also state that following Partition, the group branched out in various places across Afghanistan, Bangladesh, South Africa, Mauritius and the UK, and most of these branches found an identity of their own.
Moreover, after the independence of Bangladesh in 1971, Bangladesh banned the Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan as it had collaborated with the Pakistan army. But, it got a new lease of life under the name of Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh, which later joined mainstream politics in the country, reports said.
In 1990, when militancy erupted in the Valley, the Hizbul Mujahideen called itself the military wing of JeI. While hundreds of its activists were killed by the counter-insurgent force Ikhwan in the mid-90s, JeI distanced itself from militancy in 1997, said The Indian Express' report.
The party, which had a pro-Pakistan leaning during the Plebiscite Front days and during the eruption of militancy, pitches itself as a socio-religious organisation working mainly in the field of education and awareness about Islam. It was also an influential founder member of the undivided Hurriyat Conference from its inception in 1993 till 2003 when the amalgam suffered a vertical split led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani over alleged proxy participation in 2002 Assembly polls by some leaders of the People's Conference led by Sajjad Gani Lone. Thereafter, the Jamaat withdrew from the Hurriyat and decided to focus on its social work while maintaining its separatist stand on the Kashmir issue.
The cadre-based party has a powerful 'Majlis-e-Shoora' (an advisory council) which takes decisions on important issues through consensus. The second tier of the organisation consists of 'Rukn-e-Jamaat' (pillar of Jamaat), who in turn elect the 'Majlis-e-Shoora'. The number of 'Rukn-e-Jamaat' can vary from 100 to 300 but for getting into this elite group, one has to fulfil certain criteria which can take a decade at least.
Brush with politics
During Tarbali’s tenure, several schools were built and charitable trusts formed, alongside an expansion the activities of the group, which then made a silent foray into the political arena.
The group participated in the 1971 general elections, hoping to get a larger platform to propagate their ideology and a means to implement them through legislation. However, it couldn’t win a single seat. It again contested Assembly elections in 1972, this time with the hopes “to challenge the notion that politics and religion are separate” and won five seats.
Jamaat’s popularity grew manifold after it played the anti-sheikh card when Sheikh Abdullah signed an accord with Indira Gandhi in 1975, dropping his demand of right to self-determination for Kashmiris. At this time Jamaat was the only major organisation talking about the right to self-determination of Kashmiris. Shortly after, Emergency was declared and Jamaat became a banned outfit for the first time.
Jamaat contested its last elections in Jammu and Kashmir in 1987 in alliance with few other religious organisations like the Muslim United Front in 1987. It has a separate Kerala chapter as well.
Alleged terror link
After allegations of mass rigging in the 1987 polls, MUF activists were arrested for staging protests. Among those arrested was Mohammad Yousuf Shah, who was the group’s then Srinagar head. He later joined Hizbul Mujahideen as its supreme commander and came to be known by his alias Syed Salahuddin, Moneycontrol reported.
By 1990s, when many Kashmiri youths were taking arms training in Pakistan, Jamaat also allegedly begun supporting the insurgency. In the same year, Ahsan Dar, founder and chief commander of Hizbul Mujahideen, dubbed the outfit a "sword arm of Jamaat". In 1997, Jamaat claimed they have no ties with the Hizbul and that it never backed the insurgency.
The Falah-e-Aam Trust was created in 1988 to run JEI schools following its ban. The products of these schools were targetted by their Pakistan masters, exfiltrated to Pakistan, trained in arms and ammunition, and infiltrated back to carry on their subversive activity, the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC) reported.
During 1988-89, the Jamaat supported militancy only indirectly, but it got directly involved when, under the influence of Pakistan's secret service, ISI, it accepted the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) formed in 1989 as its militant wing. The Hizbul Mujahideen assumed ascendancy among other major groups and mercilessly slaughtered the innocents until the emergence of counter-insurgency groups in the Valley in the later half of 1994 and their targetted attacks on JEI/HUM activists, the TRAC website mentions.
Arrests of Jamaat leaders
Despite all claims, security agencies believe that “the structure of Jamaat is used in Kashmir for pro-Pakistan and militant activities”. According to the report, K Rajendra, ex-DGP, Jammu and Kashmir Police, had said: “They are the root cause of the problem in Kashmir.” According to a News18 report, there is a belief that most terrorists are influenced by Jamaat’s ideology and their leaders are responsible for instigating the masses.
Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan is a political party there, presently headed by Siraj Ul Haq (Ameer), who is also a member of the Pakistan Senate. His speech in the National Assembly on the recent tension enthralled Pakistani media and audiences.
Group calls crackdown 'political vengeance'
Meanwhile, the organisation has termed the government's crackdown as "absolute political vengeance".
A statement released by the group after the arrests of several of its members said: "The state government while misusing its power is trying to appease BJP and other communal forces and have unleashed atmosphere of terror across the valley wherein hundreds of young and old having religious tilt have detained under baseless grounds. The repressive policy adopted by the state authority clearly smells bad and thus are trying to choke every peaceful political exercise in and around."
"Jama’at vehemently condemned the arrest spree by police and terms it undemocratic and gross violation of human rights," it read.
Terms it a murder of democracy, the organisation has appealed to the Human Rights Groups, the United Nations Organization and OIC to intervene into the grave situation prevailing in the state of Jammu and Kashmir and use their influence to stop the lawlessness at the hands of forces.
With inputs from PTI
An earlier version of this article carried an incorrect image. It has been updated to correct the mistake
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Updated Date: Mar 02, 2019 15:09:49 IST