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Treading on Hallowed GroundCounterinsurgency Operations in Sacred Spaces$
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C. Christine Fair and Sumit Ganguly

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195342048

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195342048.001.0001

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A Mosque, a Shrine, and Two Sieges

A Mosque, a Shrine, and Two Sieges

(p.66) 3 A Mosque, a Shrine, and Two Sieges
Treading on Hallowed Ground

Sumit Ganguly

Oxford University Press

This chapter explains the dramatically different outcomes of two sieges conducted in the course of combating India's Kashmir insurgency: one of a historic mosque in an urban setting, and the other of an ancient shrine in a rural milieu. The first siege, that at the Hazratbal mosque in the capital city of Indian-controlled Kashmir, ended peacefully. The siege of the shrine of Sheikh Nooruddin Noorani, a Sufi saint, however, ended in a bloody conflagration culminating in the destruction of the shrine. It is argued that the markedly different locations of the two religious sites partially explain the different outcomes of the two sieges. The Hazratbal mosque, located in the heart of Srinagar, promptly attracted the attention of the national government in New Delhi, which granted an able civilian administrator to handle the negotiations while allowing the military to maintain a vigilant posture. The Charar-e-Sharief shrine, on the other hand, was located near the Line of Control (the de facto international border) in Kashmir and therefore was removed from significant political attention. This situation led the military and local police forces to adopt a more unyielding posture toward the insurgents. The demographic composition of the insurgents in the two sites also played a vital role in shaping the final outcomes.

Keywords:   counterinsurgency, Kashmir insurgency, sacred sites, sieges

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