Clampdown on dissent pushes young Kashmiris into ‘resistance’

An Indian Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) officer patrols on an empty street during a lockdown on the first anniversary of the revocation of Kashmir's autonomy, in Srinagar. (File/Reuters)
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Updated 08 August 2020

Clampdown on dissent pushes young Kashmiris into ‘resistance’

  • Separatists fighting Indian rule in the disputed region have stepped up attacks on lower level politicians
  • Two security officials said that around 500 politicians had been moved since Thursday

NEW DELHI: When Bashir Ahmad Lone’s son Mehraj Uddin did not return home from a picnic with friends, his family informed the police. A day later, on June 5, the young man’s photograph was making the rounds on social media. He was dressed in military fatigues and carrying a gun.

“We never thought that could happen,” the father of the 24-year-old construction worker from Arigam village in Pulwama district of Kashmir told Arab News.
“Sad thing is that it’s not only my son, there are many youngsters joining militancy. In frustration, people are picking up guns.”
A year since the revocation of Kashmir’s special autonomous status by India and subsequent lockdown of the region, hopelessness, anger and increasing violence have pushed more youths into extreme forms of resistance.
“It is a sad reflection in any conflict zone, more so in Kashmir,” said Gowhar Geelani, a Kashmiri journalist and political analyst. “When all democratic forms of dissent are disallowed and democratic spaces choke, some youth and impressionable minds do take refuge in extreme forms of resistance.”
On Aug. 5 last year, New Delhi annulled Article 370 of India’s constitution, which had guaranteed Kashmir’s autonomy, and divided the state into the Union Territory of Ladakh and the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir — directly governed by a New Delhi representative.
Thousands of additional troops were sent to support 500,000 servicemen already deployed in the Muslim-dominated region to enforce a military lockdown on its population of 13 million.
Thousands of local political leaders and civil society activists were detained and some of them still remain under arrest.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Kashmiris say the revocation of region’s special autonomous status by New Delhi broke the last bond between them and India.

• Youths embrace militancy as a form of dissent in the absence of any outlet to express their anger.

Some 16 km from Arigam where Mehraj Uddin Lone was last seen, another boy, 19-year-old Shoib Ahmad Bhat from Chursoo village, also in Pulawama district, joined militants on July 13.
“I fear security forces will get hold of him and kill him, before his promising life can serve any purpose,” the young paramedic’s father, Mohammad Shafi Bhat, said.
Bhat said the overturning of Article 370 broke the last bond of trust. “Article 370 was a sort of bond between India and Kashmir. The special status gave us benefits in our education, employment and it was a matter of pride for us,” he said.
Last month alone, several young educated men, including a doctoral student from Srinagar, were reported to have joined the local militant group Hizbul Mujahideen.
“The situation is very grim in the valley. Youth are frustrated and angry and there is a strong sense of alienation,” said social and political activist, Mudasir Dar.


Malaysia welcomes its first halal TV streaming service

Updated 22 September 2020

Malaysia welcomes its first halal TV streaming service

  • Service attracts more than 10,000 subscribers since July

KUALA LUMPUR: Netflix could soon have competition from a homegrown entertainment platform in Malaysia which, its makers say, will cater to Muslims’ “halal TV” needs based on Islamic values.

Dubbed “Nurflix,” the platform is Malaysia’s first Shariah-compliant streaming service and has attracted more than 10,000 subscribers since July.

Nurflix is the creation of Syah Rizal Mohamed, who wants to produce and release original content for the platform before its official launch in January.

“We spent $9.7 million for the startup, but the company will produce 1,000 (items of) original content in multiple categories like mainstream, educational, spiritual and motivational and kids, with about 12,000 episodes in the first five years of operating,” the 43-year-old CEO told Arab News.

He also plans for Nurflix to acquire content from local and international producers, as long as they align with the service’s production guidelines, with a focus on markets in Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore before setting up internationally.

“We see ourselves covering the Southeast Asian region in the next five years with our readiness to establish hubs in the Middle East and Europe to gain traction in the international market.”

He said the decision to tap into the streaming service market was driven by the rapid growth of video-on-demand media and consumers choosing this, as well as over-the-top subscription services, as their main form of entertainment. 

Consumers agreed that there was a market for a halal content platform.

“The Islamic streaming service just enriches the Islamic entertainment ecosystem because there is a niche for it,” 25-year-old public relations executive Puteri N. Balqis told Arab News.

Media consultant Amir Hadi Azmi said a Shariah-compliant streaming service was an interesting niche, particularly for more conservative users, but that the concept was not unique to Islam or Muslims.

“In America, for example, there is a service called Pure Flix which caters to more conservative Christian viewers,” he told Arab News.

Amir Muhammad, managing director of Kuman Pictures, said that as a producer, the more outlets that were made available to content producers and filmmakers, the better. Kuman Pictures, which is known for releasing horror and thriller content, could create appropriate content if need be.

“I have not seen their actual guidelines, but if they want halal horror, we will give them halal horror,” he told Arab News.

The Nurflix CEO said there would be a Content Advisory Council and that it would be headed and supervised by Habib Ali Zaenal Abidin Al Hamid and the Honorable Ustaz Raja Ahmad Mukhlis.

“Productions, including third-party content providers, will be monitored by the council to ensure the end product abides by the set guidelines. Nurflix is unique in the market because it is not just offering Islamic-guided content. The production will be monitored by the council to ensure all aspects of work are conducted in a Shariah-compliant manner.”

Although there is no formal collaboration with the Islamic Affairs Department, he said that Nurflix’s ideas and concepts had already been shared with Islamic Affairs Minister Dr. Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri.

When contacted by Arab News, the director-general of Malaysia’s Department of Islamic Development Paimuzi Yahya said his department was still working on “collaborating with the streaming service” and declined to comment further.