A serious rift has emerged within the decades-old insurgency against Indian rule in Kashmir, with a top militant commander vowing to establish a Islamic system in the disputed Himalayan region and repudiating the goal of an independent nation.
Zakir Musa, the commander of Kashmir’s largest anti-India militia, has explicitly distanced himself from the 70-year-old independence movement in the valley as well as from elements who wish to merge with Pakistan, declaring his fight is “exclusively for Islam, so that Sharia [Islamic law] is established here”.
The pronouncements, issued in audio statements posted on social media in the past weeks, signal a growing ideological divide between Kashmir’s old guard of separatist leaders, their traditional sponsor Pakistan, and a new, social-media savvy generation of rebels heavily influenced by radical Islam.
Musa, 22, has emerged in the past year as the leading face of the ongoing militancy in the Indian-controlled section of the former princedom that was divided between India and Pakistan in 1947 and is still claimed by both.
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