Nothing Indigenous About Kashmir

Nothing Indigenous About Kashmir

26 November 2013
Countercurrents.org
Bashir Manzar

Srinagar: Ahead of elections – both Lok Sabha and to the State Assembly, the two main regional Kashmiri political parties - ruling National Conference (NC) and opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are desperately trying to flirt with Congress to grab the top chair in the state in 2014. The race between the two parties leaves one wondering - when and how Kashmir has lost its indigenous character. When Kashmiri youth resorted to armed rebellion against India in early nineties, the idea behind the struggle was to tell the world that Kashmir belongs to Kashmiris. Right from 1947, Kashmiris faced a dilemma ... Who they are? Because the narratives were either of India or that of Pakistan with the most popular leader of the time, Shiekh Mohammad Abdullah, pooping up in between but with no substantial authority. Pakistan’s misadventure and expansionist motives; Nehru’s obsession with Kashmir and eagerness to get this piece of land and; Abdullah’s socialist leanings and an urge to be seen as a secularist, resulted into the mess that is plaguing the sub continent even after more than six decades. What went wrong and where and when? These are the questions that baffle the researchers even today. We have Indian narratives; Pakistani narratives but, unfortunately not a single credible Kashmiri narrative. Reason – Kashmiris, despite talking about Kashmiri identity, have all along been falling in line with either of the two narratives. Those who believe that Kashmiris are yet to decide about their political future, are wittingly or unwittingly falling prey to Pakistani narrative, while as the other group embraces Indian narrative unabashedly. October 27, 1947 is seen here (in Kashmir) as a damned date – the day when Indian troops landed in Srinagar. But interestingly nobody talks about why the troops landed here? What provided India a moral justification to do so? Sadly, Kashmiris, who are obsessed with 1947 and are busy writing volumes about the developments, always miss the ‘punch line.’ Had Pakistani tribal, assisted by Pakistani regulars, not invaded Jammu and Kashmir, what would have been the history of this place. Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, Sir Hari Singh was not comfortable with Congress given its proximity with popular Kashmiri leader, Abdullah. He (Maharaja) had entered into a still stand agreement with Pakistan with his obviously known resentment against Nehru-Abdullah friendship. Then, what prompted Pakistan to launch the invasion and thus ruin a case that was strongly pitched in its favour? Was it Mohammad Ali Jinah’s obsession to be the sole Muslim leader and Abdullah’s popularity in a tiny princely state discomforted him? Was it Pakistan’s insecurity that a Hindu Maharaja would finally go for Hindu dominated India? Whatever the reasons, Pakistan’s over ambition cost it Kashmir and those (in Kashmir), sympathetic to Pakistan will have to reconcile with the fact that it was tribal invasion that ensured that parts of Kashmir be controlled by India. If a day, that could be mourned for Kashmir’s political instability, it is October 22, when tribals marched into Kashmir, and not October 27, which was just a reaction, supported by both Maharaja and Abdullah. October 22 was the day when Kashmir lost its indigenous voice to Pakistan and October 27, they authenticated Indian narrative. Since then, it (Kashmir) has never regained the same. Everything changed on these two days. Kashmir became a dispute between newly carved states of India and Pakistan and Kashmiri narrative got buried under the narratives of these two sovereign countries. Though most of the writers in Kashmir, who regularly write for local media organisations, shut their eyes to these realities, fact of the matter is that October 22, 1947 did a severe blow to Kashmir’s indigenous narrative. Things changed in late eighties. Following 1987 elections, upset with India’s denial of democracy to J&K, Kashmiri youth decided to change the course of history. The ‘valour of Afghanistan Mujahideen’ and the recent Iran revolution were the triggers to convince them that the armed struggle was something that would change the course of history. However, none of those, who opted for armed struggle in the beginning comprehended that the powers that arm you have the ability and influence to dictate too. Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, a secular, democratic and indigenous militant group emerged on the scene. Entire Kashmir population was on streets shouting Azadi (freedom) slogans. But.... Within a month or so, October 22, 1947 was repeated again. Uncomfortable with JKLF’s independence slogan, Pakistan (that armed the group) floated its own version of Kashmiri militancy – groups that would demonize independence slogan and ‘Islamlise’ pro Pak ideology. And Indian side was waiting in the wings. Within a short span of time, India managed to float its own Kashmiri militant group – the notorious Ikhwan. And thus in response to Pakistan’s Oct 22, 1947 repetition, India did its October 27. In 1947, the indigenous Kashmir voice was chocked to defeat Abdullah’s designs of independence and in 1990 the same mantra was repeated to keep JKLF at bay. Pakistan did it and it perfectly suited India then in 1947 and now in 1990. The narrative was changed again and the Kashmir’s true voice was strangulated. The process continues even today and unfortunately Kashmiri narrative volunteers to be dumped under the powerful narratives of both India and Pakistan. India is happy and so is Pakistan. None of the two countries is much concerned about the sufferings of people here. The only thing that would trouble them (India and Pakistan) is a genuine Kashmir narrative and that seems not coming forward. Bashir Manzar is Editor of Kashmir Images, a daily English language newspaper, being published from Srinagar and Jammu