In the Indian-controlled Jammu and Kashmir, despite the fact there is no legal basis and neither the public or religious scholars have elected him, “Grand Mufti” Bashir-ud-Din has been running a self-styled parallel judicial system, calling it the “Supreme Court of Islamic Shariet (Central Dar ul Futwa).” In mid 70s, Bashir-ud-din, with a post graduate degree in Arabic from the Aligarh Muslim University, was appointed “Grand Mufti” by late Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed, the state’s last Prime Minister in 1960 but recently the government mildly denied Bashir-ud-Din having any alliance with the government. For decades he has been giving diktats from his court and has used it for his personal interests to raise huge funds, solve land disputes, demand money for fatwas, and also to threaten people or force them to do his work.
In an exclusive exposé, the official letters and the documents obtained by THE KASHMIR WALLA prove that the Bashir-ud-Din has been misusing the title of “Grand Mufti” and the “Supreme Court of Shariet”, both of which have no legal basis in Jammu and Kashmir.
On 5 June 2013, a letter was sent from the “Supreme Court of Shariet” to the Ambassador of Islamic Republic of Iran seeking funds for the “establishment of Hydel Power Capacity in Kashmir.” In the letter, undersigned by Mufti Mohammad Imran, the representative of Bashir-ud-Din, it is said that “with reference to the discussions held with the President of Islamic Republic of Iran Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during the visit of Mufti Bashir-ud-din and his entourage to the country in connection with Islamic Awakening Conference on 2 May 2013. The President was pleased to accept to provide all help and assistance towards establishing the Hydel Power capacity in Kashmir to the extent of 5000 MW.”
The letter also confirms to the President that a preliminary survey of Hydro electric capacity has been conducted and the Ambassador was requested to kindly take up the matter with the President’s office for seeking necessary approval for establishing the project.
On the website of “Supreme Court of Shariet,” Bashir-ud-Din has been soliciting funds from people at large scale for establishing an Islamic University with the name Shah-i-Hamadan University. He has also sought funding from various governments and institutions for the establishment of the University. In another official letter dispatched from the “Supreme Court of Shariet” on 7 May 2013, addressed to Mohammad Jafari, Secretariat of Islamic Awakening, Iran, he mentions that he had a discussion with the Iranian President about establishment of the Shah-i-Hamadan University. The letter reads, “The President has been pleased to agree to provide all aid and assistance towards the establishment of the Shah-i-Hamadan University for which purpose the requisite project report and other allied documents stands provided by us.”
Bashir-ud-Din also wrote to the Iranian Ambassador to India for the university project. He writes, in the letter sent on 31 May 2013, requesting him to recommend the proposed National University project in Kashmir to the President of Iran for providing financial assistance. “The documents and the revised project report has been handed over to the President,” read the letter.
All the letters and communication Bashir-ud-din does is using the name of “Supreme Court of Shariet,” to create an impression of legal authority, so as he can misuse this ‘state approved’ religious position for his personal interests. He writes to different countries as if he is the official authority and they are informed about his visits.
In 2011, Bashir-ud-Din wrote to Tajikistan government about his visit, heading a delegation. In reply to his letter sent on 8 April 2011, the Tajikistan embassy in India replied him on 15 April with compliments and also informed that the trip costs will be taken by the delegation but the government will provide them relaxation. All this communication was done using the ‘Supreme Court of Shariet’.
After Bashir-ud-Din issued a fatwa against the all girls’ rock band the state chief minister Omar Abdullah tweeted: “Given the importance people attach to the fatwas of the Grand Mufti, the less said the better.” Abdullah had also said that the “Grand Mufti” was not appointed or paid by the government.
The state government said that they have no connection with the “Grand Mufti” or his “Supreme Court of Shariet” but the documents obtained prove that Bashir-ud-Din has a formal engagement with the State police in cases and also communicates with them several times.
Bashir-ud-Din is the “Executive Member of the government Waqf Council Jammu and Kashmir state,” as he writes a letter as this authority to the then Minister of Hajj and Auqaf, Ajaz Ahmed Khan and asks him to provide funds for a mosque in Tangmarg in 2012.
The claims of Chief Minister also fall apart when we read the documents of how Bashir-ud-Din writes to Superintendents of Police of several areas. In one such case, of Mushtaq Ahmad Dar son of Habib-ullah Dar resident of Divar, Lolab district Kupwara, he writes to the superintendent of Police, Kupwara on 3 April 2013 to pass-on instructions to the local administration to ensure the presence of the defendant Mushtaq Ahmad in his court for the hearing.
The letter reads: “It may also be ensured that the defendant Mushtaq Ahmad who has reportedly managed his second marriage in an un-Islamic/illegal way may not be allowed to stay any more with Mst. Rukhsana till the time investigation into the case is completed and verdict depending upon merits of the case is announced by this Hon’ble court of Islamic Shariet.”
According to the information obtained by THE KASHMIR WALLA, Bashir-ud-Din and his son have several bank accounts in various banks and branches and have also invested money in properties. To run this whole system Bashir-ud-Din has very close relations with a few particular local journalists who help him. One of the local journalists who reports for a leading newspaper has been given dictations on what to publish and how, and also he discusses various issues with Bashir-ud-Din’s son, Nasir-ul-Islam.
Bashir-ud-Din’s “Supreme Court of Shariet” is known to have written letters to various Christian missionary schools in Jammu and Kashmir for admissions of his family members. One such letter was written to Burn Hall School in the month of September 2011, which apparently was not considered by the school administration. This letter was written just before Bashir-ud-Din issued a fatwa against the Christian missionaries.
Bashir-ud-Din also issued a fatwa against the stone throwing youth in 2008 uprising, immediately after the then Senior Superintendent of Police of Srinagar, in a press conference had presented an Islamic citation against the stone throwing.
The prominent human rights lawyer Parvez Imroz has been working to file a case against Bashir-ud-Din. Imroz says Bashir ud Din has no legal status and neither the spectrum of the religious scholars of Kashmir has elected him. “It is evident by his fatwas which demonise Kashmiri people, why government is allowing and encouraging him to function in a manner where he has been allowed to run a parallel judicial system. We have been working to collect important documents which would enable us to file a case against him,” he said.