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Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir

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Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir was banned two weeks after the February 28, 2019 terrorist attack in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district.

Former Ameer of Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir Ghulam Qadir Wani (Image courtesy: video screengrab/X/@Qayoomiousf)

New Delhi: Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir (JIJK) wants to contest elections. In 2019, JIJK was banned under the Anti-Terrorism Act.

According to the report, Ghulam Kadir Wani, a former JJK chief who voted in the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency on May 15, said, ‘We have not boycotted any election. Because of the situation in Kashmir, we stayed away from the elections.

He added, ‘We are in discussions with the Centre. If the ban from the party is lifted, we will contest the elections (next assembly).

JIJK is a cadre based institution. It is also believed to be the ideological source of Kashmir’s largest militant group, Hizbul Mujahideen.

It is known that JIJK was banned on February 28, 2019, two weeks after the terrorist attack in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district in 2019. More than 40 jawans were killed and more than four dozen were injured in Pulwama.

Wani has claimed that the decision to contest the elections was made after an important meeting of the Majlis Shura of the movement. He said, “If the ban is removed from the party, we are determined to participate in the democratic process.”

The party has ‘issued a statement’ rejecting Wani’s claim.

A press release by Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir is being shared on social media, rejecting Wani’s claim that the decision on the elections was taken after the Majlis Shura meeting.

The statement reads, ‘What Vani has said is his personal opinion.’

The Wire has not been able to confirm the authenticity of the statement issued by the organization’s spokesperson in Srinagar.

Wani’s announcement coincides with a visit to Kashmir by Home Minister Amit Shah, who is scheduled to arrive in Srinagar on Thursday (May 16) amid the Lok Sabha polls. A local news agency reported that Shah was scheduled to meet various delegations in Srinagar, including those from civil society, BJP workers and activists.

Some unconfirmed reports also said that some Jamaat leaders may meet Shah. However, The Wire could not immediately confirm the news.

Call Omar Abdullah to remove the ban from the party

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah welcomed Wani’s announcement. He has appealed to the Home Minister to remove the ban and allow JJK to participate in the assembly elections.

Abdullah has said, ‘Let them participate in the elections. The Jamaat has supported various candidates and parties during the elections in Jammu and Kashmir. Now it would be better if the organization worked for itself rather than others.’

Jamaat has around 6000 members in Jammu and Kashmir. The organization has been banned twice before 2019. The party was first banned in 1975 by the Indira Gandhi government. The organization was banned a second time in 1990-1995 after an armed insurgency broke out in Kashmir.

Raids and arrests against the party increased after the central government’s decision to ban the organization in 2019.

The central government’s action broke the party’s back. The organization was earlier involved in social and religious activities including education, relief work and other social issues. Following the ban, several schools run by the Jamaat were closed by the Jammu and Kashmir administration and the outfit’s assets worth crores of rupees were seized under the Anti-Terrorism Act.

Reports indicate that over 300 members of the Jamaat, including top leaders, have been arrested under preventive detention laws.

According to political observers, the central government took steps considering the Jamaat as part of the Jammu and Kashmir issue as the organization had in the past advocated a solution to the “Kashmir issue” in line with UN resolutions. While some other analysts argue that the government has exaggerated the influence of Jamaat in Jammu and Kashmir.

Jamaat-e-Islami has contested elections before

Jamaat is one of the oldest political parties in Kashmir. The source of movement of this organization is the founder of Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan, Abul Ala Maududi. JIJK has its own constitution, which was drafted in 1952. The organization has violated its own constitution by contesting elections in Jammu and Kashmir between 1965 and 1987.

Dr Manzoor Ahmad has stated in his research paper that the election is a tool for the Jamaat. The organization took part in the elections to increase its support. He could complete his Islamization plan.

Ahmed’s research paper was published by the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis in 2021.

The party was at its peak in the assembly elections in 1972. The party won five seats in this election. Senior Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani was also among those elected. In later years, Geelani greatly influenced the political scene of Jammu and Kashmir. The party has supported the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the previous elections.

Possibility of disintegration in the party

In March 2020, Jammu and Kashmir became its own party. BJP is not contesting general elections in Kashmir except for two seats in Jammu. The opposition party claims that the BJP is supporting “Jammu Kashmir’s own party”.

Sources say J&K president Altaf Bukhari must have approached the party leaders after getting the BJP’s approval to bring them into the national mainstream. In February this year, Bukhari appealed to party members to stay away from politics and focus on their religious activities. In October last year, a leading member of the Jamaat joined the ‘Jammu Kashmir Apni Party’.

Analysts believe there is a possibility of a split in the Jamaat-e-Islami in the coming weeks. An unverified press release issued by the Jamaat spokesperson points to a crisis in one of the largest socio-political organizations in Jammu and Kashmir.

Analysts also believe that the ban on the party is unlikely to be lifted soon. In February this year, the ban on the organization was extended for five years.

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