The Islamicization of Politics: Motivations for Violence in Kashmir

Bhatnagar, Gaurav

"The conflict over Kashmir is the longest unresolved conflict on the UN Security Council docket. It began in 1947 and has continued for six decades without any significant progress toward peace. Due to the rapid rise in the influence of pan-Islamic groups operating in Kashmir over the past decade, scholars have tended to cast the conflict as an Islamic conflict. This paper seeks to address two related questions: first, why has the conflict in Kashmir been interpreted by scholars and commentators as one motivated primarily along religious lines, as a battle between Islamic militant groups in response to religious persecution by a Hindu government? Second, is that characterization accurate? In other words, is the motivation for violence in Kashmir best explained by religious or secular and political factors? In addressing these questions, this paper will focus on the motivations for conflict with specific attention to the various militant groups operating in the region and how both the groups and their grievances have shifted over time. Accurately identifying the motivations for conflicts—especially those that are cast as Islamic conflicts—is important in order to prevent the spread of misconceptions, as these false impressions of conflicts often shape the opinions of the conflict and proposed solutions.
This paper concludes that although the original motivations for the conflict were primarily political, the recent surge in influence of pan-Islamic groups has caused the media and scholars to mischaracterize the essential nature of the conflict as primarily religious. Though religion has influenced how militant groups have mobilized and used symbolism, this popular depiction is flawed because the fundamental grievances and motivations are predominantly political."--from page 1

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The Journal of Politics and Society

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Helvidius Group
Helvidius Group of Columbia University
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February 12, 2014