Rhetoric & Reality
Kashmir, a valley betrayed
Political unrest has again gripped Kashmir. People of Kashmir even couldn't celebrate their Eid, one of the biggest religious festivals of the Muslims. When the Muslims around the globe celebrated the Eid festival people of Kashmir were intimidated into the four walls of their houses. Every roar of armed police van zooming past their houses sent a shiver down their spines. Little did they know what was going to befall them before hundreds of Indian armed forces were deployed in Kashmir.
Telephone lines and internet were snapped. It is a complete communication blackout putting a virtual curfew into force in Jammu and Kashmir. About four hundred local political leaders, including two former chief ministers were arrested. Kashmiri people have been kept out of information since the Indian central government curbed its autonomy on August 05. This is not the first time the Kashmiri people are under the threat of being non-existent. Kashmiri people are quite different in temperament and spirit than almost all other parts of India. The crisis in Kashmir lies in their distinctive nature of not bowing down to rules of others.
The recent crisis can be traced back in 1947 when Redcliff drew the divisive lines to split India. His lines like all other parts severed Kashmir into two parts - Azad Kashmir fell into Pakistan part while Jammu and Kashmir into India. Three princely states - Hyderabad, Kashmir and Junagadh - didn't accede either to India or Pakistan. Of the three, Hyderabad and Kashmir after a lot of dramas and political tussles acceded to India. But Kashmir didn't accede either to India or Pakistan. It is still in trouble because of their distinctive nature of not accepting rulers from outside. They fought against Mughals, Afghans, Shikh and Dogra dynasty relentlessly for 300 years. They thought their fights for freedom ended with the Dogra dynasty coming to an end in 1947. But freedom has always eluded them.
The Dogra dynasty began to rule Kashmir in 1846 when their homeland was sold out to Gulab Singh of Dogra family for Rs 75 lakh by the British. Kashmiri people felt humiliated and dejected. The successor of Dogra dynasty Hari Singh in 1947 sought Indian's help when tribesmen known as lashkars from North West Frontier Province of Pakistan now known as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa poured into the valley of Kashmir. They looted, raped and unleashed a reign of terror. There are different versions of historians about who sponsored those pathan tribesmen. Some say it was Pakistan who laid claim to Kashmir. As the rampage and looting continued for days it terrorized the Dogra dynasty.
Hari Singh signed a deed of accession with the Union of India in exchange for India's help to drive out the lashkars. Under the deed it was decided that accession would be made subject to plebiscite in the state by the Governor General of India. It means the accession to India should be decided in accordance with the wishes of the people of Kashmir. But India has betrayed Kashmiri people. The plebiscite has never been held. Nobody, from the Indian first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to Narendra Modi, has kept the promise guaranteed to Kashmiri people in 1947.
Interestingly Nehru himself was Kashmiri but he had never, in the true sense, fought for the rights of Kashmiri people. Nehru was so absorbed in his premiership that he had never paid any heed to the demand for freedom of Kashmiri people. It was very much evident when he had a talk with Mohammad Abdullah Sheikh, the first leader of Kashmiri people who freed Kashmiri people from the feudal rule of Dogra dynasty, in 1952. It was during a debate over the rights of Kashmiri people when Nehru whispered into the ears of Sheikh: "Sheikh Saheb, you have to remain with me all the time." Sheikh whispered back: "If I don't, then what?" Nehru again whispered in reply: "Then we shall get you along in golden chains." Sheikh then smilingly warned him of the consequence: "Please don't do that, you might then lose Kashmir." Nehru partly lost it.
For long 70 years the aspiration of Kashmiri people has been trampled by all the governments formed so far in India. Being deprived of what they wanted Kashmiri people have resorted to armed struggle. The uneasy peace and calm in the valley was burst with rage and a sense of denial towards the end of 1988. Since then the people of the beautiful and bountiful Kashmir that has captured the imagination of people from around the world has turned into a valley of death and destruction. The sense of betrayal forced a section of people there to take up training in Pakistan's Azad Kashmir while others sought independence to free themselves from the subjugation of Indian rule. More than eighty militant organizations have sprouted in the soil of Kashmir. About one lakh people laid down their lives at the altar of their independence movement.
The only fault of Kashmiri people is they hate subjugation and suppression. All this militancy in Kashmir was the result of Indian doings. Pakistan has contributed no less than India to push the Kashmiri people to where they are now. Their backs are now against the wall with the Indian ruling dispensation trying to occupy their land that has had the history of civilization of 5,000 years. Saifuddin Soz in the 'Introduction' of his book titled 'Kashmir, Glimpses of History and the Story of Struggle' put in: "Herodotus, who lived in the fifth century BC, considered to be the 'Father of History', had made a reference to Kashmir. Claudius Ptolemy (AD 100-170), Greco-Egyptian writer, gives a detailed account of Kashmir's geography and its people, although he never visited it. Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsiang, who visited Kashmir in AD 631 and stayed there for two years, gave a detailed account of Kashmir's civilization and its liberal rulers. Kalhana also described how the rulers of Kashmir respected all, irrespective of caste and creed. Al-Beruni (AD 973-1048), who never visited Kashmir, described its geography in lucid detail with wonderful accuracy."
Narendra Modi who came to power for the second consecutive term by stoking jingoism and Hindu fanaticism is now out to destroy this old civilization and its culture. Modi's recent move to invade Kashmir is another step to further ignite his Hindutva chauvinism to cement and consolidate his power for the third consecutive term.
He may succeed in his mission to cling to power for another term but he can never tread on the demand of Kashmiri people. The people of Kashmir are brave and born fighters who never bow to subjugation of others. They will give a befitting reply to Modi by breaking into pieces his usurping hands.
Worth-mentioning here the last few lines of a poem of Sir Muhammad Iqbal better known as Allam Iqbal though philosophically I am miles apart from him because of his communal outlook:
'' The iron fist of suppression and cruelty made them into a miserable lot,
Like a scissor, it clipped their wings,
O, God, break into pieces the tyrannical hand of the usurper!
Who trampled the spirit of freedom of Kashmir! ''
The writer is a Senior Sub-Editor at the Daily Observer