When Kashmiris were not defined as Muslims or Hindus

In 1947, it was the clear intent of the people of the state to accede to India and not Pakistan.

 |  5-minute read |   01-08-2017
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Kashmir had always been proud of communal amity. Peerzada Gulam Ahmed Mahjoor, Shair-e-Kashmir (also known as the Wordsworth of Kashmir), wrote a poem long ago which truly captures the spirit of Kashmir:

“O’ my Lord

Grant me the boon of such heavenly

Words;

Words; that quell hatred and mistrust

Words; that evoke love and affection

Beautiful sweet scared Words;

My Lord!

Guide me to peace, truth and Light

Ye! Native of this Nation

Retrospect and Remember

The inspiring acts

of sacrifice and fortitude

By Muslims for Pandits

By Pandits for Muslims

Like that of

Quda Gojwari and Siriji Kak!

Ye! The care taker of the Garden

Toil hard to make it flourish afresh

Cater to its blossoming glory!

Birds and flowers will thrive and Rejoice

In unison;

Love for one’s Nation

Makes one’s life very rich and very full!”

The narrative of the "so-called" Kashmir movement has undergone several phases from its inception in the early 1930s. Kashmiris were not defined as Muslims or Hindus. We cannot lose sight of the fact that whilst India was fighting for independence against the British Raj, Mohammad Ali Jinnah was espousing the cause of Muslims in India at that time.

Strangely, Jinnah did not support the cause led by the founding leader of the National Conference Sheikh Abdullah at any stage. On the contrary, after formation of Pakistan, the neighbouring country surreptitiously aided and abetted the Kabali attack malafidely to take away part of the state.

It is pertinent to note that even prior to Partition, Sheikh Abdullah had rejected the two-nation theory based on religion as advocated by Jinnah and aligned with Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Before Maharaja Hari Singh decided to accede to India, on October 2, 1947, the working committee of the National Conference had met under Sheikh Abdullah’s presidency and taken the decision to support the accession of the state to India.

Sheikh Abdullah had also reached Delhi on October 25, 1947, to persuade Nehru to lose no time in accepting the accession and dispatching Indian troops to the state. Meaning thereby, that it was the clear intent of the people of Kashmir to accede to India and not Pakistan.

jinnah_073117081052.jpgStrangely, Jinnah did not support the cause lead by Sheikh Abdullah at any stage. Photo: India Today

Instead of taking the obvious course of clearing the whole territory of the state of the tribal invaders, India was persuaded to stop her armies short of, leaving large chunks of the state’s territory in the hands of Pakistan. If the soil of the state had been freed from the aggressor, there would perhaps have been no Kashmir problem.

The journey of the Muslim Conference to the National Conference has to be looked into, much so at present. The cause for which Sheikh Abdullah fought, sadly, has been lost over the years. The externalisation of Kashmir identity politics and its Islamisation has been the cause of much worry, which has led to the emergence of religion assuming centrality and has exposed external factors with the onset of militancy.

The youth today is perverted towards acts which are a step-in-aid to political and monetary gains of a handful of politicians, who are least bothered about growth and unemployment in the state. Today, the other regions and communities in the state are suffering immensely under the garb of the Kashmir crisis. The beheading of Indian soldiers and recent killings of Lt Ummer Fayaz and lynching of deputy superintendent of police Ayub Pandith has surely worsened the Kashmir narrative beyond repair.

Young school children pelting stones instead of studying is one the most horrific views of the recent times. Educational institutions have remained open only 80 out of 197 working days since July 8, 2016, as per various surveys and reports. Normalcy in day-to-day life seems distant due to frequent calls for strikes and curfews.

It is the common man who is suffering the most at every quarter. Additionally, the unemployed youth take recourse to drugs, a menace which is slowly engulfed the region. In a survey conducted by United Nations International Drug Control Programme in 2008, alarming statistics of drug abuse were revealed.

More than 70,000 drug addicts were reported in Kashmir, including 4,000 women. It was further revealed that 65 to 70 per cent of drug addicts comprised of students including females (26 per cent) between the age group of 18-35 years. Today, the youth is suffering over the failure of the state government to provide means of living. Who is benefitting from the "special status"? Definitely not the youth.

The figures of unemployment are equally alarming. “In J&K, unemployment rate is 24.6 per cent using usual principal status (UPS) approach, while persons in the age of 18-29 years had unemployment rate of 13.2 per cent at the all India level using UPS approach,” states the Economic Survey Report 2016.

There are negligible investments due to the uncertainties in the political condition of the state. The reminiscences of mass exodus of Kashmiri Pandits continue to haunt. No business activity is taking place and the worst hit is the tourism sector, which is a major source of revenue generation.

The tourism department and its authorities have witnessed a shortfall of 90-95 per cent compared to last year. "Not only the tourist arrivals, most of the major infrastructure projects which were to be taken up in Kashmir under Prime Minister's Development Plan (PMDP) have also come to a halt," the officials said. Since July 2016, the state's economy has suffered a loss of approximately Rs 3,000 crore.

Much has been suffered by the subjects of the state and if the current scenario continues, it would slip into the dark from where resurrection would be difficult. The central government has lately undertaken several measures for the uplift of the common man. It is the need of the hour for PM Narendra Modi to reach out to the people of the state who have suffered immensely and continue to do so.

The win of the BJP and PDP in the last election had exalted the expectations of the people of the state. It is about time to write a new chapter in the chequered history of the state.

Also read: Why India has learnt nothing about Kashmir in 70 years

Writer

Divvya Kesaar Divvya Kesaar @divvyakesaar

Ms. Divvya Kesaar is an Advocate practicing in the Supreme Court of India and the Delhi High Court.

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