President & Group Managing Director: Dr.Shelly Ahmed | Editor in Chief & Group CEO: M H Ahssan

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

'Kashmir is not Syria!' Is The Rise Of Hard-Line, ISIS Supporting Jihadists In The Valley More Myth Than Reality?

Many feel that pictures of ISIS flags in Kashmir are a clear indicator of the Islamic fundamentalists having made inroads into the Valley but police in conflicted area tell a different story. 'Kashmir is not Syria. An organisation like ISIS establishing a base in Kashmir and working the way it does in Iraq and Syria is just not possible. Let us not underestimate our grids', said a top official. The only tangible link between ISIS and Kashmir has been found among youths who were attracted towards the ideology while outside the country. Over the years, only three such cases have come to light.

Through the narrow lanes of Srinagar the body of Sajad Gilkar, a slain Hizbul militant was being taken out for burial from his home on July 12.

The atmosphere looked tense with hundreds of people shouting slogans. It looked like a routine funeral procession until someone removed the green Pakistani flag from the body and later covered it with a black one.

It resembled the flag that ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) uses globally.

Pictures of this incident have ever since become a talking point.

Many use it to suggest that this was a clear indicator of ISIS having made inroads into Kashmir. If true, this would certainly mean a monumental shift in Kashmir's conflict.

But conflicts have a habit of throwing doubts at people and at times even make things look real only to be proven wrong, later.

So is the 'ISIS in Kashmir' story a reality or just a myth? Top security officials working in Kashmir, however, dismiss such terror theories as nothing but fables.

'Kashmir is not Syria. An organisation like ISIS establishing a base in Kashmir and working the way it does in Iraq and Syria is just not possible. Let us not underestimate our grids', said a top official.

Even in the case of Sajad Gilkar, officials have denied his linkage with any ISIS affiliated networks or groups so far.

'In Downtown it is for the first time we have seen ISIS flags on a militant body. Earlier such flags were seen in protests. We have already started investigations but so far found nothing concrete', said Munir Khan, Inspector General of Police, Kashmir.

The only tangible link between ISIS and Kashmir has been found among youths who were attracted towards the ideology while outside the country. Over the years, only three such cases have come to light.

In August 2015, news emerged about a young Kashmiri named Adil Fayaz Wada from Srinagar's upscale Jawahar Nagar locality who has allegedly joined ISIS from Australia.

He had been pursuing his MBA degree from Queensland University. After finishing his degree, Wada had told his family that  he had got a job in Turkey, after failing to get one in Australia, Dubai and Qatar.

There has been no news about him ever since. In January 2016, another youngster, Sheikh Azhar ul Islam, from Preng village of Ganderbal district, was deported from the United Arab Emirates for being an alleged IS sympathiser, along with two other Indians.

This year Afshan Pervaz, 21, a resident of Khanyar, a downtown Srinagar locality, has been deported from Turkey for allegedly trying to join ISIS.

According to police, Pervaz had told his family that he wanted to go to Iran for higher studies, and had booked a seat on a flight to Tehran in March 23.

He went to Turkey from there. However, what bothers security forces more is the growing ideology of 'hard-line Islam' among the youngsters who are joining militant groups.

Recently a boy from North Kashmir had left his home to join the Zakir Musa group of militants. His parents and the police worked hard to bring him back just in the nick of time.

They had to take the help of a religious scholar to convince him to shun the path.
When the police spoke to him it seemed that he was fascinated by the ideas of Islamic supremacy that Zakir Musa has been professing.

Musa made headlines with his audio message in which he threatened to chop off the heads of Hurriyat leaders if they came in his path and insisted that the struggle of Kashmir was just political.

Zakir also later announced his breakup from the parent group of Hizbul Mujahidin. He was even heard saying that he had no ties with ISIS or Al- Qaeda but he wasn't against them.

Since then he and his group have been functioning as a separate entity mostly in the south of Kashmir.

To some people all this bear similarities to ISIS. However, there still is a sharp difference between ISIS and Kashmiri militancy.

'ISIS professes ultra radical Salfist ideology and their system of Islamic governance is guided by that. They use brutal means to achieve the objective. Kashmir won't accept that ', says a top police official in J&K.

So what explains for this growing trend of young boys getting lured towards Zakir Musa brand of Islam?

There are many factors to this and one among them is hopelessness. 'Youngsters are losing faith in Hurriyat and to an extent even Pakistan. In these decades nothing has changed in Kashmir. Not an inch has been won by them. And now there seems to be little interest shown by political class in Delhi for any headway or talks.

'This causes hopelessness and in such a state some are bound to find refuge in extreme thought process', explains an important top functionary in the security team.

Another factor as per the experts could also be the sudden assertion of the 'Hindu' ideology in the rest of the country. Social media users in Kashmir do react sharply to every news item about cow vigilantism or any other such issue that comes up from the mainland.

Zakir Musa has issued audio tapes attacking Hurriyat conference and even Pakistan.
His audio recordings have also touched upon the atrocities on 'Indian Muslims.'
But is Zakir Musa such a big problem for the security situation? Well, yes he seems to be.

The security establishment feels that Zakir Musa brand of extremism is finding space among youngsters who are mostly disgruntled by the inefficacy of Hurriyat and Pakistan.

Some believe that the more these separatist political outfits like Hurriyat become irrelevant, the more space it would create for the thought process that Zakir Musa supports.

'Zakir Musa and his band of boys is a threat. If not ISIS, they certainly do have the capability of creating a disruption of a different kind in the valley.

He appeals to a youngster because they want to see something happening on the ground, which others haven't been able to achieve', said a senior police officer dealing with anti-militancy cases.

Are Expiration Dates On Medicines Just A Myth?

If some drugs remain effective well beyond the date on their labels, why hasn’t there been a push to extend their expiration dates?

The box of prescription drugs had been forgotten in a back closet of a retail pharmacy for so long that some of the pills predated the 1969 moon landing. Most were 30 to 40 years past their expiration dates – possibly toxic, probably worthless.

An Indian IT Firm Hires High-School Graduates And Turns Them Into Software Programmers

Even as most other firms seek talent from top-ranked tech institutes, Zoho Corporation hires high-school graduates and trains them over 18 months.

Not inclined to pursue his studies beyond high school, 17-year old Abdul Alim dropped out of school in 2013. Unable to find a job in his hometown in North East India, Alim moved to Chennai in the South with nothing more than Rs 200 in his pockets.

Classic Denial, Victim Blaming By Cops And Politicians After Biker Jagruti Hogale Dies Dodging A Pothole

Jagruti Viraj Hogale, a well-known woman biker, was on her way to a weekend getaway with her friends to Jawhar — known for its waterfalls — when she swerved to allegedly avoid a pothole, was thrown off her bike, and crushed to death under the rear wheels of a truck on the Jawhar-Dahanu highway in Maharashtra. For the 34-year-old biker's grieving family, the main culprit is in plain sight.

Why It’s Unfair To Ban Commercial Surrogacy?

Altruistic surrogacy alone will deprive many would-be parents of options. Earlier last month, a couple in our family successfully got custody of their newborn through surrogacy. Filled with emotional highs and lows, the past nine months left the parents-to-be disillusioned about the prevailing surrogacy practices. 

Following a successful embryo transfer, the surrogate, after receiving a hefty advance payment, went underground despite the formal facilitation of the process by a reputed gynaecologist. She appeared only a month after delivery to hand over the parents' prized possession. The blessed parents swiftly forgot their misery as soon as all the paperwork was completed and they received their little bundle of joy in their hands. After all, their dream of having their biological child had finally come true.

Diplomacy in the Age of Social Media

Public diplomacy is a buzz word that has been around for decades, but today it is well ensconced with a significant other – social media.

Diplomacy is a fine art, heir to centuries of epochal deal making, system building, peacemaking and conflict avoidance and resolution – it is, in many ways, a profession for the ages. In the minds of men and women at large, however, it is also seen as a profession conducted in rarefied environs, in dizzying ivory-towered heights, away from the hurly-burly of earthling life. In India, I have often faced the perennial question,

Debate: Why the ‘Neuroscience of Lynching’ Article Is Flawed

Can the science of hate help us realise who the bigger criminal in a lynching is?
  • Original article by Sumaiya Shaikh, published July 18, 2017
  • Rebuttal to the original by Shruti Muralidhar – below
  • Sumaiya Shaikh responds to the rebuttal, published July 19, 2017

This is in response to Sumaiya Shaikh’s article in The Wire titled ‘The Cognitive Neuroscience of a Lynching’. She has attempted to explain the human behaviour seen in acts of extreme violence, such as lynching. As a trained and practising neuroscientist who works in the field of learning and memory, I find that a lot of the neuroscience in her article is unsubstantiated, outdated or plainly incorrect. Following are some chosen paragraphs from her write-up, accompanied by my comments.