In Kashmir, ‘good’ Barelvis vs ‘dangerous’ Wahabis

Sectarian shadow boxing between Islamic sects is getting full play in Kashmir. It’s the ‘Good Barelvis’ versus ‘Dangerous Wahabis’. And the duel seems to be getting some support of the Centre and its agencies. Could this turn out to be the kind of folly the State committed when it played footsie with Bhindranwale in Punjab, asks Randeep Singh Nandal in Times of India

Chances are that Pir Jalaluddin, head of the Batmaloo Sahib shrine in Srinagar, never heard the two bullets that hit him on the night of March 17. But for many in Kashmir, these were echoes of a sectarian war in the making in the Valley. The Pir belonged to a new aggressive group of the Barelvi sect of Islam in Kashmir, a grouping that in the past six months has lost no opportunity to rally its large following in the state.

Shrine-going Barelvis constitute about 70% of J&K’s Muslims – an overwhelming majority in the Valley. However, the past 20 years have seen the more puritanical Wahabis like Ahle Hadith make rapid inroads in the state – a spread that is often ascribed to vast inflow of foreign funds to these organisations from Saudi Arabia. Thanks to their resources, Wahabi groups have ensured easy availability of Wahabi literature. more

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