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West Java on the eve of the Renville Agreement

By the end of 1947 the police had singled out Sabilillah troops in Pagerageung and Tasikmalaya as the most fanatic,[1] and had identified Pagerageung as their military headquarters and Sukawening as their propaganda and political hub. This was the same village where Kartosuwiryo was organizing the party’s activities, and Oni coordinated the activities of the Sabilillah.[2]

The first step towards Masyumi’s ‘New State’, was undertaken by the proclamation of a ‘Sabilillah Safety Zone’ (Sabilillah Keamanan Daerah) on 18 December by a Sabilillah unit which had to relocate to Rancabungur (Indihiang) after Dutch attacks on the Sukawening centre had caused the scattering of Islamic militias across the region.[1] This initiative further reinforced the Republican government’s impression that in the Priangan the population did not recognize Republican authority and instead supported Masyumi.

In theory the Republican authority and Masyumi should not have been in competition with each other. However, the tensions arising from the Republic’s negotiations with the Dutch and Masyumi’s commitment to building an Islamic state inevitably resulted in them setting their agendas on separate registers. Soeri- anatanegara went as far as accusing the Islamic party of challenging the Republic at the political and military levels, as Masyumi had been openly discrediting TNI troops whilst praising the bravery of Hizboellah and Sabilillah. Civilians reportedly trusted the Islamic militias more than TNI troops, as it appears that the latter often ran away from combat situations with Dutch soldiers, leaving the fighting to the Islamic militias. Soerianatanegara’s explanation was that as civilians were generally more sympathetic to religious militias, these militias were better fed and better armed than the Republic’s.[2]

The rise of Islamic politics in the Priangan can only be understood in the context of the complex nature of religious and political authority at the time, as explored in Chapter 1. But Sarekat Islam’s and Masyumi’s political activism and commitment to the formation of a politically conscious ummah was a key catalyst for popular support and engagement, besides traditional patterns of authority.[5]

According to a Ministry of Defence survey, in the Priangan only the members of Masyumi had a full understanding of the current political situation - here defined as ‘total war’ - and clear expectations for the path ahead, as they were awaiting the call for perang sabil that would bring Indonesia to independence.[6] It is in this ideological, military, political and social context that Kartosuwiryo carried out the transformation of Masyumi’s West Java division into the Darul Islam movement.

  • [1] ‘Perihal keadaan di Tasikmalaya’, 12 December 1947, KepNeg no. 495, ANRI.
  • [2] ‘Laporan tentang keadaan didaerah Tasikmalaya Utara’, 23 December 1947, KepNegno. 495, ANRI.
  • [3] ‘Perihal keadaan di Tasikmalaya’, 12 December 1947, KepNeg no. 495, ANRI.
  • [4] ‘Laporan tentang keadaan didaerah Tasikmalaya Utara’, 23 December 1947, KepNegno. 495, ANRI.
  • [5] The police reported that local Masyumi leaders were trying to strengthen their membership’s approval by holding public and closed meetings to reinforce the attendants’ knowledge ofIslam. See ‘Laporan tentang keadaan didaerah Karesidenan Priangan, Kantor Kepolisian Kares-idenan Priangan’, received on 28 February 1948, KepNeg no. 495, ANRI.
  • [6] ‘Kementerian Pertahanan bagian Perantara Warta dan Publikasi, Ichtisar Laporan no. 5,Daerah Priangan, so’al Totalitaire Oorlog’, November 1947, KemPert no. 1073, ANRI. According to this report, members of Pesindo, PPN, PPI and the teachers’ organization had very littleconsciousness of the current situation, whilst members of the socialist and nationalist (PNI)parties and a number of civil servants were mostly aware of the situation but did not understandits implications and consequences.
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