Transforming Kashmir: The Role Of Religious Clerics In Countering Radicalization

Sheikh Sameer

Kashmir which was known for turmoil, protests, harlas and stone pelting,has now changed due to govt push   Law and order situation and anti-terrorism activities oprations . Today’s Kashmir is presenting different picture of what it was some five years back. There is peace and normalcy in the Kashmir. the tourism sector is flourishing, agriculture and horticulture sector is blooming and traders are doing their daily businesses.  The process of providing employment to unemployed educated and skilled youths in government and private sector is also going on. The tag of criminalized society is fading and a magnificent society is emerging. But why is it so that still a good number of youths in Kashmir are in alienation with the idea India, is it because of deep rooted radicalization among the youth?

Understanding Radicalization:

Radicalization is a complex process involving various social, political, and psychological factors. It often begins with feelings of marginalization, alienation, and grievances, which are exploited by extremist groups seeking to recruit vulnerable individuals. Religious ideology manipulated and distorted by these groups, serves as a powerful tool for radicalization, promising a sense of belonging, purpose, and righteousness.

The radicalizationof Kashmiri youth started in early nineties with the enemy exploring the false concept of being under illegal occupation of India. It was started by the Pakistan through its sympathizers in Kashmir. Pakistan used religion its tool to involve more and more youth of Kashmir in creating a sense of being oppressed by the mighty forces of India. The concept of kafir which was wrongly portrayed by the Pakistan in Kashmir has added the fuel in the flames of Kashmir. And displaying all the security forces in Kashmir as kafirs gave birth the sense of alienation. Here Kashmiri youths created a gulf on one side “us” and on another side “them”. This ‘us’ vs ‘them’ gulf continuously widened and nobody tried to bridge this gap.

It is true that when Radicalization among youth, is fueled by religious extremism, it becomes a ticking bomb. And this was used by Pakistan in Kashmir and the beautiful valley witnessed the repercussions of highly radicalized society for three decades. Thousands of innocent people lost their lives, scores were wounded, crippled and dozens lost eye sights. Now my and many Kashmiris’ question those extremists and separatists about the outcome of the deadly game that they played using the innocent’s blood of locals

The religious radicalization had such deep roots that, unknowingly the mother would dictate her teen aged son how the security personnel is his enemy. During the 2016 turmoil while watching evening news at friend’s residence and when the news of number of injured persons was read by the news reader suddenly my friend’s mother put down her headscarf and began to use slang and abusive language against mainland India and security forces.  In the meantime, a boy aged 10 positioned the wooden toy gun towards TV set in which the pictures of security forces deployed on roads was flashing, the little boy who would hardly know about Kashmir or religion had made it in his mind that all security personnel in Kashmir are his enemy.

The Kashmiri youth would get a dose of radicalization in the morning by his/her parents, in the bus, in the school, in the playground and in the mosques. Now which place was impacting the of youth mind was the mosque because the religious clerics would use most provocative language to provoke the youth against mainland India. It is because of this deep-rooted radicalization that still, when the peace is everywhere there is a sense of alienation among the youth in Kashmir

Now the Kashmir has changed there is no sign of violence but at the same time the radicalization and alienation has not completely wiped out. Though the government has started many de-radicalization programs and awareness camps but without the active participation of civil society groups especially the religious clerics many good results cannot be obtained. It is also true that the radicalization from the mosques has stopped but how many de-radicalization programs and sermons have been initiated by the leaders’ headmen is still an unanswered question.

Each Muslim sect in Kashmir has a weeklong calendar of programs to be conducted in different mosques about the religion, how good it has been that in every religious gathering the conservative talk about the fruits of peace and repercussions of violence were brought in the conversation. Rather some religious clerics would justify the violence and war by saying that if we cannot pick up arms against the oppressor, we should not go against his doing, at least he is protecting our religion. While numerous factors contribute to this phenomenon, religious clerics possess a unique opportunity to counter radical ideologies and guide radicalized youths towards a path of peace and moderation. Here are some of the ways in which religious clerics can play a crucial role in rehabilitating radicalized youth, promoting tolerance, and fostering a sense of community cohesion.




Religious clerics, as authoritative figures within their respective communities, possess credibility and influence that can be leveraged to counter extremist narratives and ideologies. Their role in de-radicalizing radicalized youth can be multifaceted and impactful in Promoting Authentic Religious Teachings: Religious clerics can offer accurate interpretations of religious texts and teachings, debunking misinterpretations and distortions propagated by extremist groups. By emphasizing the true values of compassion, tolerance, and peace inherent in most religious traditions, clerics can provide an alternative narrative that resonates with radicalized youths.

Clerics can serve as mentors and counselors for radicalized youths, offering them a supportive and non-judgmental space to express their grievances and doubts. Through dialogue and engagement, clerics can address the underlying issues driving radicalization, such as feelings of alienation, injustice, or identity crisis. Offering Educational Programs: Religious institutions can organize educational programs and workshops aimed at promoting critical thinking, religious literacy, and civic engagement among youth. These programs can help debunk extremist propaganda and empower young individuals to resist radicalization by equipping them with the necessary knowledge and skills.

Facilitating Reintegration: For those who have already been radicalized or involved in extremist activities, religious clerics can play a crucial role in facilitating their reintegration into society. By providing spiritual guidance, counseling, and support networks, clerics can help former radicals navigate the process of disengagement and rehabilitation.: Religious institutions can serve as hubs for promoting social cohesion, dialogue, and interfaith understanding within communities. By fostering inclusive environments where diverse perspectives are respected and celebrated, clerics can create a sense of belonging and solidarity that mitigates the appeal of extremist narratives.

Religious clerics have a significant role to play in rehabilitating radicalized youth and countering extremist ideologies. By promoting authentic religious teachings, providing guidance and counseling, offering educational programs, facilitating reintegration, and building community resilience, clerics can contribute to creating a more inclusive and peaceful society. However, addressing the challenges associated with this endeavor requires collective efforts from religious institutions, governments, civil society organizations, and communities at large. Only through collaboration and commitment can we effectively combat radicalization and promote a culture of tolerance, understanding, and respect for diversity.

Ideas, Opinions and Views expressed in articles are Writer’s own and may not be in accord with those of The Morn

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