Method in madness

K.N. Pandita, New Delhi

Dear Sir,

The Editorial ‘Kashmir Spirit’ (May 16, 2006) poses a question but runs away from a debate on the issue. Consequently, the conclusion is flip flop and weightless.

The bane of most of our political commentators is their inadequate and not in – depth study of mediaeval Kashmir history. This often results in rather superficial analysis of historical realities. It is true of most of them. But since mediaeval hitory of Kashmir is deliberately distorted and its facts mutilated, our otherwise inquisitve commentators can be excused.

It will be naïve to look at Kashmir history in isolation. Moreover, detaching Kashmir socio-historical panorama from Pan-Islamic movement beginning in mid-19th century (after the liquidation of the Ottoman Empire and ensuing of the ‘Great Game’ in Central Asia) and its various shades and nuances in different parts of the Muslim and Muslim – dominated world, does not entitle a political analyst to lay any claim to astute and pragmatic scholarship. What has one to say about the role of Muslim Conference before and after the Sheikh proselytized? What has one to say of 1931 communal riots in Srinagar, and its aftermath, particularly the fall out of Glancy Commission report? What has one to say of the 23-page Urdu booklet titled “The conspiracy of converting Muslim majority into a minority in Kashmir” by Abdur Rahim Rather, the Finance Minister in former Farooq Abdullah Ministry and now the leader of opposition in the J&K Assembly?

Apart from local historical scenario, it is important to know the contours along which the task of constructing a “new and unique” society in human history — the Islamic society — was undertaken. About this “new and unique society” not only the originators but also most of subsequent outstanding historians and philosophers of that faith emphasized that it has been carved out not with human mechanism but by divine ordination with a clear mandate of superseding all existing communities. This philosophy has been tirelessly expounded by stalwarts like Jamalu’d-Din Afghani, Shaykh Abdoh, Hasan al-Banna, Mowdoodi, Iqbal, Jinnah` Ali Shariati, Ayatollah Khumeini, Osama bin Laden, Hafiz Saeed and his armed legions across the subcontinent down to our own times.

How could Kashmiri Muslim mind escape the impact of this cataclysmic process? Moreover, was not National Conference’s so-called nationalistic struggle hijacked by sectarian forces when, after the establishment of popular government in 1947, talking of Naya Kashmir agenda was almost considered sacrilege in NC rank and file? Was not the chanter of “man tu shudam, tu man shudi” tantrum put behind the bars and amusingly by one who claimed to be the staunchest among Indian democrats and secularists? Was there an iota of sincerity on either side? None whatsoever, there was only the shaking of iron hands clad in velvet. And of course, both had their method in madness.

Why Kashmir Muslim posed to be “humane” to the Pandits and “shared his cultural ethos” is because the Pandit had, as a historical compulsion, accepted to live a dhimmi, the sub-graded citizen in a predominant Muslim society. The Sheikh secured ratification of Pandit’s dhimmitude through Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. The Indian State is holding on to this ratification with its teeth. That is where the interests of the Indian rulers and Kashmir dhimmis come into clash. NC’s hot pursuit for Greater Autonomy stems from sporadic voices raised in some small quarters of Indian nationalist segment for restoration of the status of the Pandits as equal citizens in the State. The writer is the former Director, Centre of Central Asian Studies, Kashmir University.

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