Surge in local recruits linked to outfit
The surge in local youth joining terrorist ranks spurred the ban on Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI-J&K), a socio-religious group that has been active in Jammu and Kashmir since 1942, a senior official said.
Most locals who joined terrorist groups were associated with the JeI, either through educational institutions run by it or religious activities, the official said.
In 2018, over 180 Kashmiri youths joined these groups, and around 56% were locals, the official said. The same year, 252 terrorists were killed in various operations and around 60% were locals.
“Earlier foreign terrorists killed were more in number but the trend has reversed in the past two years. More locals have joined the militant ranks and more are getting killed,” said the official.
An internal note from the Centre before the February 28 ban said the “JeI has been using its network of schools to further promote anti-India feeling among children in the Valley.”
“Its leaders have been encouraging cadres of the JeI youth wing- Jamiat-ul-Tulba to be recruited into terrorist outfits.” It added that hardline leaders of the JeI continue to maintain regular contact with Pakistan High Commission for support.
The State is presently under President’s rule and the ban comes ahead of the general elections.
In February, over 300 members of the JeI were rounded up by the J&K police. Some were picked even before the ban came into force. The detention and arrests came around the same time as the Indian Air Force (IAF) precision strikes at a Jaish-e-Mohammad terror camp in Pakistan’s Balakot on February 26, post-Pulwama terror attack.
The Centre has claimed that the JeI has been collecting funds in the name of religious activities and using the same for ‘anti-national separatist activities.’
“The JeI also has several trusts for running schools to disseminate orthodox Islamic ideology. Behind this façade, hardliners within the JeI have been involved with militant groups. The group was actively supporting militancy during 1988-99 under the influence of ISI. It patronised Hizbul Mujahideen and in the initial years was the backbone of HM,” the note said.
JeI has been banned twice in the past. The first ban continued for two years and the next ban was effective for three years. JeI was banned first in 1975 by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, the former Prime Minister of J&K. It was banned again in 1990 when Mufti Mohammad Syed, the founder of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was Union Home Minister.
PDP, NC protests
The two major political parties in Valley have questioned the latest ban. Former chief minister and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti took out a protest march in Srinagar demanding a withdrawal of the ban. She said arresting the JeI’s members and the preachers affiliated with Ahli-Hadith was a “direct interference in our religious affairs.”
Ms. Mufti represented Anantnag in the 2014 Lok Sabha, a stronghold of the JeI.
The National Conference has also called for a reconsideration of the ban.