Hurriyat Conference Chairman and Muttahda Majlis-e-Amal Ameer Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Friday, October 9 warned Kashmiris to “beware of the expansionist plan of the Ahmadis in Kashmir and foil their nefarious designs”. He was delivering the Friday khutba at Srinagar’s Jamia Masjid where he said that “Ahmadis won’t be allowed to spread tentacles in Kashmir.”

What was ironic was that before his anti-Ahmaddiya rant took off, Farooq was complaining about the Indian government’s “draconian laws” and the use of beef “for petty political gains”. Farooq stressed that both the ruling and opposition parties didn’t bother to talk about “continuous human rights violations”, following which he went on a lengthy tirade against Ahmadis whose right to self-identify the Hurriyat leader was desperate to take away.

Farooq’s speech against Ahmadis wasn’t just against them “wearing the mask of Islam”, he warned against Ahmadis taking over Kashmir: “Earlier, Christian Missionaries were trying to spread their tentacles in Kashmir by offering monetary benefits and now it was Ahmadis who want to do the same.”

Of course, Farooq didn’t vent his anti-Ahmaddiya bigotry without reason, nor was it a random outburst against the community. In the last week of September Muhammad Ibrahim Shah, who is the Ameer of ‘Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at Srinagar’, had applied for holding a peace symposium at SKICC. Farooq’s dedication of the Friday sermon to the Ahmadis, like Masroor Abbas Ansari’s claim that “Government must be patronizing the proposed event,” was designed to get the event cancelled. Authorities in Jammu and Kashmir went on to deny the Ahmadiyya Jama’at the right to organise the event “in view of public sentiments”.

“We are not against any religion and all are free to propagate their faith. But Mirzaiees refer to themselves as Muslims to tarnish the image of Islam, which will not be tolerated,” Farooq said in his khutba.

One would think that with the rise in the Indian security authorities’ clampdown against Kashmiris and the growing Hindu radicalism all over India, and Kashmir bearing most of the brunt, Mirwaiz would have a lot more on his plate than worrying about ‘deviant’ Islamic sects “tarnishing” Islam’s image, especially considering that Ahmadis have been fast migrating out of Kashmir and settling elsewhere in India.

According to a few estimates there are only a few hundred Ahmadis in Jammu and Kashmir, with the community only owning one ‘place of worship’ – that too is built near the IG Police’s office. Ahmadis quite clearly don’t feel secure in India’s only Muslim-majority state.

Of course, the anti-Ahmaddiya rhetoric isn’t new to Kashmir. It has moved in synchrony with anti-Ahmaddiya movements in Pakistan, with Kashmiri Ahmadis also facing repercussions of the Second Amendment to the Pakistani Constitution in 1974, which excommunicated the community.

In May 2012, Kashmir’s Grand Mufti Muhammad Bashir-ud-Din had demanded a similar legislation to declare Kashmiri Ahmadis as non-Muslims. It was a unanimous demand made by the Muslim religious leaders of Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Personal Board.

The Kashmiris’ indifference to Ahmadis’ contribution to the Kashmiri cause mirrors Pakistan’s dismissal of the community’s fight for its creation. What makes Kashmiri Islamist supremacism prodigiously worse is that it self-manifests at a time when Kashmiri Muslims are being targeted by an Indian establishment that is brimming over with Hindu supremacism of its own.

Following the massacre on July 13, 1931 (now remembered as the ‘Kashmir Martyrs’ Day’) when Maharaja Hari Singh’s forces resorted to brutal force killing 74 Kashmiris and injuring hundreds, an All India Kashmir Committee was formed. Ahmadi leader Basheer-ud-Din Mahmood Ahmad was instrumental in the committee’s formulation and was endorsed by Allama Iqbal as its president. Under an Ahmadi’s leadership the committee raised funds for the Kashmiris who were victims of violence, and helped the locals become aware of their political rights. Despite the movement being hijacked by Majlis-i-Ahrar-Islam-Hind later in the ‘30s, the All India Kashmir Committee was the undoubted propeller of Muslim political revival in the state.

Just like an Ahmadi leader played a crucial role in the Kashmiri political uprising, another leader from the community, Chaudhary Zafarullah Khan, Pakistan’s first foreign minister, fought for the Kashmiri cause in the United Nations and its Security Council. His time in the foreign office (1947-1954) is considered by many of his diplomatic contemporaries as a strong era of Pakistani diplomacy at the UN, with Zafarullah Khan championing the case of not just Kashmir and Palestine, but also backing liberation movements in Indonesia, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, Somalia and Sudan.

Anti-Ahmaddiya xenophobia naturally prevails on our side of the Kashmir LoC as well. In April 2010, a conference organised against the Ahmadis by Major Ayub Memorial Committee was attended by Raja Farooq Haider Khan, the then Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir. Atiq ur Rehman, Azad Kashmir’s minister of Auqaf briefed the PM on problems that the Ahmaddiya community is posing in Kashmir and proposed solutions, which were later passed as resolutions.

The resolutions included, but were not limited to: complete demolition of Ahmadi ‘places of worship’; forbidding Ahmadis from entering Azad Kashmir; forcing Ahmadis to register themselves at police stations in Azad Kashmir and banning Ahmaddiya literature. Raja Farooq Haider Khan dubbed Ahmadis’ growth in Azad Kashmir “totally unacceptable” and said it was “essential to put a stop to the evil of Qadianiat.”

The cases of Ahmaddiya persecution in Azad Kashmir are just as common as they are in the rest of Pakistan, with not only religious freedom being violated, but basic human rights blatantly targeted by the government and security agencies. In March 2012, an Ahmadi doctor and son were taken hostage for four months. The police only sprung to action after months of rallies by locals.

And so, as the Kashmiri fight for self-recognition simmers, amidst India’s newfound Hindu nationalist zeal, sectarian infighting is absolutely detrimental to the Kashmiri cause. From the All India Kashmir Committee inevitably brewing Muslim separatism to the Ahmaddiya Furqan Battalion fighting on Kashmir front in 1948 as Pakistan army’s proxy, Ahmadis are an inalienable part of the good, bad and ugly of the history of Pakistan, Kashmir and the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent. The Kashmiri leaders would do their nationalist cause the world of good, by addressing its Islamist undertones, which are becoming more conspicuous at a time when another radical religionist movement is rising in India.