Vivek Sinha is a Writer for Conatus News, Hindustan Times, and The Times of India. Here we talk about Kashmir, global terror, young life, sitting down with an ex-terrorist, and more.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: You have written for both the Hindustan Times and The Times of India. Some focusing on global terrorism (Sinha, 2017a). How is the struggle for Kashmir a subset of global Islamic terror?
Vivek Sinha: The genesis of this “struggle for Kashmir” dates back to 1947 when India gained independence from British colonial rule. At that time there were two kinds of regions in the Indian subcontinent– British India and the Princely States.
British India was directly ruled by Great Britain and Princely States through their proxies. At the time of Indian independence British India was divided into two dominions, India and Pakistan… and the Princely states were given the option to join either the Indian or Pakistani dominions.
Jammu & Kashmir was a Princely state. Now, given the strategic location of Kashmir, British wanted it to join Pakistan as they felt a populous Islamic strip on the north of India could act as a buffer against spread of Communism. During post World War-II, USSR was aggressively pushing Communism across the world.
Even though the erstwhile Maharaja of Jammu & Kashmir acceded his Entire Princely state with India, the Islamic state of Pakistan attacked Kashmir and grabbed almost one third of Kashmir and continues to occupy this chunk (Gilgit-Baltistan, Muzaffarabad etc) even today.
Ever since then, Pakistan continues to foster discontent among Kashmiris, dreaming of the day when Kashmir is united with Islamic state of Pakistan. And what better way to realize this goal than to indoctrinate Kashmiri Muslims into fighting for the greater cause of establishing Islamic Caliphate.
This instantly connects common Kashmiri with the rest of Muslims spread across the world. The Kashmiri Muslim feels that (s)he is not alone and his/her struggle is for the greater Islamic cause. It helps give Islamic sanction to the deaths of Kashmiri. Sheer acts of terror are hailed upon as valour.
For several years mosques and madrasas in Kashmir have been used to preach this line of thought. Terrorists are branded as Militants and those killed in counter-insurgency operations are hailed upon as martyrs who have laid down their lives for the cause of Islamic Caliphate. Islamic endorsement ensures a steady stream of recruits.
The world has come to know of this story when, in recent times, a few of these indoctrinated Kashmiri youth have openly professed their allegiance to fighting for Islamic Caliphate rather than Kashmir’s independence. Zakir Musa, the ousted Hizbul commander operating in Kashmir, minced no words when he said Mujahids like him are fighting only towards establishing Islamic Caliphate and their fight in Kashmir is only a part of this grand design.
Several other Kashmiri terrorists have been circulating messages across social media networks reiterating that their struggle is for Ghazva-e-Hind which aims to spread Islam across Indian subcontinent and establish the Islamic Caliphate.
Jacobsen: How was youth for you? What was your family’s geographic, cultural, linguistic, and religious background?
Sinha: I was born in a middle class family. I was born and brought up at Kanpur, an industrial city around 445 kilometers south east of New Delhi. I am a Hindu and have completed my school from a Catholic Christian School.
The religious beliefs in my family are quite liberal. Despite being devout Hindus, my parents educated me and my brothers at a Christian school.
Growing up in Kanpur I had (and still have) several Muslim and Christian friends apart from Hindus. So we celebrated almost every festival (Diwali, Holi, Eid, Christmas) with equal enthusiasm and fervour.
Despite coming from a family of engineers I took up journalism and writing. My parents never objected to my taking up writing as a profession, rather they always encouraged it.
Jacobsen: Also, you sat down with an ex-terrorist (Sinha, 2017b). What was the experience like for you? Also in hindsight, any further reflection insights on the experience and conversation in general?
Sinh a: Right from the moment he (the ex-terrorist) walked in, I could read it in his eyes that the guy wanted my help very badly. I felt concerned for him. All the time, as he spoke, his eyes were moist with tears.
He felt betrayed and violated. He felt trapped by the same people whom he trusted and revered. He told me categorically that he understood this devious game only after everything was lost for him.
He was desperately in need of a saviour who probably could help him and his family lead a simple and normal life. After the coffee he hugged me tight and whispered “please help me brother” in my ears, even as he thrust a sweet candy on my palm.
After my meeting I spoke about him, wrote his story but have not been able to contact him yet again. Despite my earnest request he did not give his contact details.
In hindsight, I wish he could have given his contact details to me, because I genuinely want to help him.
Jacobsen: What concerns do you have about the progressive movements in the UK and in India?
Sinha: I feel that progressive movements should not be hijacked by any one set of ideologies. The progressive movement, by definition, should challenge the status quo and cull out the prevalent ills from societies and nation states.
Sadly, both in India and in the UK progressive movements seem to have fallen into the trap laid down by Leftist ideologies.
Instead of raising issues that could help in the betterment of societies the Leftists (aka Communists) have taken up the progressive movement and are trying to push their agenda in its garb.
A case in point is the concept of veil (burqa/hijab/ etc) in Islam. Across India and in UK a section of progressives can be seen justifying wearing of burqa by a Muslim woman as her freedom of choice.
But this same group maintains stoic silence when another Muslim woman discards her veil. Instead of defending her in the name of freedom of choice to Not wear the burqa, they castigate her and all the progressives who side with her are branded as Islamophobes. Similarly, other contentious issues like female genital mutilation are never taken up as aggressively as they should.
This nips in the bud all talks of Islamic reform. If the progressive movement has to convert itself into a formidable Movement then it needs to snap ideological knots off all hues and focus only on the issues.
Jacobsen: How do you recommend younger generations become involved in progressive politics and social movements for the improvement of the social conditions of those often neglected by the wider society?
Sinha: The younger generation needs to develop a thinking mind and question all kinds of beliefs till they get satisfactory answers. The connected world has opened new vistas of knowledge for everyone all across the world.
Rather than tying themselves with specific groups or ideologies and blindly aping thought processes of these ideological groups they should inculcate a reasoning mind and question set beliefs and dogmas.
Jacobsen: Any final thoughts or feelings in conclusion?
Sinha: One cannot be a Thinker and Follower at the same time. If one sincerely wants to be a part of the Progressive Movement in their respective country/society then (s)he has to be a “thinker”. Only a thinker can challenge dogmas and initiate discussions, which ultimately leads to a better society.
Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Vivek.
Sinha: You are welcome.
Sinha, V. (2017b, June 1). Coffee with an ex-terrorist in Kashmir. Retrieved from https://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/between-the-lines/coffee-with-an-ex-terrorist-in-kashmir/.
Sinha, V. (2017a, June 6). Yes, Kashmir struggle is a subset of global Islamic terror game. Retrieved from https://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/between-the-lines/yes-kashmir-struggle-is-a-subset-of-global-islamic-terror-game/.
Image Credit: Vivek Sinha.