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Is stone pelting against Islam?

By Syed Ali Safvi in Jammu
March 29, 2009 19:06 IST
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The divide within separatists in Kashmir has come to the fore again -- on the controversial issuance of a fatwa against stone pelting as a form of protest.

"Stone pelting cannot be justified. Islam is about discipline and if the leaders are asking people to refrain from stone pelting then they should adhere to these directions. Prophet Muhammad too has asked us to refrain from it," Jamiat-e-Ahli-Hadees president Maulana Showkat Ahmed Shah said on Sunday.

However, Chairman of Tehreek-e Hurriyat Syed Ali Shah Geelani claims that incidents of stone pelting take place in retaliation to the 'tyranny of gun wielding troops'.
"If troops allow us to hold innocuous and peaceful protests, why would we take to stone pelting," he says. Referring to the protest march on June 23, 2008, during the infamous Amarnath land row, Geelani said, "It was a peaceful protest, but they (troops) fired dozens of tear gas shells to disperse the protestors.  How could an unarmed youth hold his nerve when he is provoked by the occupational forces," Geelani asks.
Quoting a verse from the Quran, the septuagenarian leader maintains that Allah permits resistance to oppression.
Senior separatist leader and president of Islamic Students League Shakeel Ahmad Bakshi agrees with Geelani and says that the oppressed lot have been granted the right to show resistance.
"Religion does not bar the oppressed and subjugated people from showing resistance. Stone pelting has remained part of the movement and the fatwas issued against it have no basis," he says.
Obliquely referring to Moulana Showkat's statement, Shakeel said that those who are issuing fatwas against stone pelting in Kashmir have been organising seminars in support of Palestinian youth and children resorting to the same method.
The Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front has also expressed its support for stone pelting as a form of agitation.
However, senior Hurriyat Conference leader and president of Anjuman-e-Sharie Shian, Agha Syed Hassan Al-Mosavi believes that stone pelting 'defiles the spirit of Islam'.
"There are other ways to show anger -- through chanting slogans and peaceful protests. People must abstain from stone pelting," he said.
'Kani jung' or stone pelting has been Kashmir's distinctive way of expressing pent up resentment about religious, social, political and administrative issues.

The practice gained popularity in the 1960s -- when supporters of National Conference called sher (lions) and of the Awami Action Committee called bakra (goats) -- would indulge in clashes that known as sher-bakra battles.

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Syed Ali Safvi in Jammu