Conversions to Christianity, the idea of reopening liquor shops and cinema halls and government funding for Madrass as were controversies the clergy and the government equally found themselves caught in, in equal measure.
After many years, Kashmir’s Muslim clergy started inching out of the pulpits and the shrines. Their organizations sprouted up almost everywhere and there were a series of convocations and get-togethers.
The situation continuously offered them issues to talk about. It was in the second half of the year that the Facebook fetched them an issue when a pastor was shown baptizing a few of youth to Christianity.
The clergy reacted in a way that they started hunting answers in the outer space’ of their ‘universe’. There were a series of interactions between the clergy and the Christian missionaries operating in Kashmir. There was tough talking at certain levels asking some missionary leaders not to use the money power to increase numbers.
They were told about the contributions they have made at the socio-economic levels to the Kashmir society without actually making any attempting to convert the locals. But the conversions, though meagre, have remained a constant in Kashmir for last many years, regardless of the factors involved.
At the peak of the ‘crisis’, there were suggestions to the Muslim clergy that they should start looking inwards and address the issues at the ground level. Nobody knows if the clergy have taken any lessons out of that. The last development on this front was when the state government announced winter vacations early fearing the clergy might go for something ‘problematic’.
While some of them might have tried to enhance their profile using the mess, the controversy of the funding of seminaries came as a huge question mark. The union government has set aside a huge amount of money for modernization and upgrade of the seminaries for which individual institutions are supposed to apply. In case of J&K, the state government seemingly had suo moto sought funds and was literally forced to admit it. However, many questions remain unanswered. How many of these Madrassas and Dar-ul-Ulooms had sought funding? If the state government did it voluntarily, how did it identify one institution and not another and how come it listed seminaries which do not exist on the ground? If the state government got the funds in the middle of the year, why did it initially deny and finally announced appropriation to listed institutions?
While the clergy is caught in this crisis, the unpredictability of the politicians is adding to their load. When Dr Farooq Abdullah advocated reopening of wine shops and cinema halls on the anniversary of his father, the Muslim clergy found themselves dragged into the controversy.