Stone pelting: The religious Islamic connect explained
Stone pelting is seen as a protest against the Indian Armed forces. It is one of the most significant forms of protest in the Kashmir Valley and what needs to be borne in mind is the religious significance that the protestors attach to it.
It all began in Palestine where stone pelters came out in large number to oppose the Israeli Army. Stone pelting became prominent in the Valley in 2008 during the Kashmir unrest. However, the most prominent stone pelting protest was witnessed in 2010 and since then it has become a regular occurrence. 2016 has been a very bad year for Kashmir and since the death of Burhan Wani in July, incidents of stone pelting have not stopped.
The religious connect:
Stone pelting is not just a form of protest. In this context let us take a look at the ritual called the rami al-jamarat or Stoning the Devil. It is part of the annual ritual during the Hajj pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. During this ritual Muslim pilgrims throw pebbles at three walls called the jamarat which is in the city of Mina, east of Mecca.
Stoning the Devil is one of the rituals acts that must be performed during Hajj. It is a reenactment of Abraham's hajj in which he stoned three pillars representing the temptation to disobey God and preserve Ishmael. As per the ritual, on the 10th day of the month of Dhu-al-HIjjah, the pilgrims must strike one of the larger pillars with seven pebbles. Once this is completed, the pilgrim must shave their hair. On each of the following two days, the pilgrim must hit each of the three walls with seven pebbles. There are 49 pebbles needed for the ritual.
The Kashmir connect:
Stone pelting first began in Palestine in the early 90s. When it began in Kashmir, it was more organised. However, today it is sporadic and crowds gather outside easily and target the Indian Armed forces. The stone pelters and their masters view the soldiers as the Devil and they go on to replicate the rami-al-jamarat.
The anger of the stone pelters is against the Indian Army whose soldiers they accuse of committing atrocities.There is a religious connect to it and the man who devised this form of protest took a direct leaf out of the religious ritual that is performed during Hajj.
When it started off initially the handful of boys were told that the soldier is the devil and stones must be pelted at them. Today it has become a norm and several youth without even knowing the story behind the origin of stone pelting come out on the streets and attack the Indian Army.