The vanishing pages of Kashmir’s mind

Published: 06th November 2016 04:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th November 2016 10:11 AM   |  A+A-

The most powerful weapon radical Islam has wielded in its spindrift of conquest through history is ignorance. By demolishing secular education, denying the miracles of the mind and reversing the transforming power of learning, it has tried to snuff out literacy and flung entire populations into the darkness of narrow theology. In India, a War on Knowledge has erupted in the bigoted battleground of Kashmir, where lessons written in blood and inscribed on the gravestones of its young fade in the treachery of its political memory. By burning schools, lumpen incendiaries are trying to impose Taliban law in the Valley. Arsonists have burned down 26 schools across the state in the last two months. Fourteen stone throwers have been arrested so far.

In AD 642, the fire of fanaticism consumed Alexandria, after its capture by Caliph Omar. He ordered its library burned saying, “If those books are in agreement with the Quran, we have no need of them; and if these are opposed to the Quran, destroy them.” Though the Quran declares the primary obligation of Muslims is to acquire knowledge, irrespective of gender, the obliteration of education is a hallmark of terror. In parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan, modern education is considered sacrilegious. The most horrifying event in the annals of the War of Knowledge happened on December 16, 2014, when the Taliban attacked the Army Public School in Peshawar, and massacred 132 schoolchildren. Earlier this year, seven students were killed in Kabul University. Terrorists attacked over 300 schoolgirls with poisonous fumes in Afghanistan. Music, culture and mathematics are banned in schools in Taliban areas. The worst affected are girls. Nigerian terror organisation Boko Haram—literally “Western education is forbidden”—has kidnapped, murdered, raped or sold to slavery hundreds of schoolgirls. Islamists use the sharia and the repressive seventh-century Arabic mores to keep women in a state of social and intellectual slavery.

The militant attack on education is driven by male religious insecurity. Today’s terrorist and before him the hordes of holy warriors who swept down from the steppes and the sands to lay waste  to ancient civilisations and enforce harsh tribal laws were illiterate soldiers and peasants. They were led by charismatic leaders who used divine sanction as the means to acquire riches and power. Ironically, today’s generals of terror depend on highly educated, skilled technological experts to unleash evil on knowledge with sophisticated methods of online indoctrination.

Islamists and hardline religious leaders are threatened by the power of education. The energy of enlightenment inspires the mind to learn, and seek truths that lie beyond apparent reality. Knowledge is an eternally evolving quest. Its pursuit will shake medieval control of society and upturn established notions of history. The fanatic establishment of Pakistan and Arab Wahabbi zealots, who fund terrorism worldwide, have used infiltration, propaganda and genocide to bring darkness to what was once called the “paradise on earth”. The assault on education in the Valley is their latest ruse. Separatists, stone throwers and murderers accuse ‘India’ of destroying Kashmir. Little do they realise that it is Kashmir which is destroying Kashmir.

Ravi Shankar

India Matters


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