This essay was drafted by me in 1992 in the wake of migration of Kashmiri Pandits and in an era of complete uncertainty.
When people commit political blunders, they repeat their history. When they display political wisdom the history records progress. But the history can’t be modified to suit one’s political aspirations. In case anybody has doubts, he/she should visit the history of Afghanistan post 1919 AD.
The concept of freedom is sacred and the civilised world rightly considers it sacrosanct. The concept is also a motivation for people to rise against foreign rule, in case they are subjugated. Even local dictators should be overthrown and the sanity of the rule of law established.
On the other hand, when people take control of their own state through democratic means, establish rule of law through the institution of constitutional assembly, then a people’s administrative apparatus comes into being. It is through this institution the concept of a welfare state started materialising and functioning post 1947 AD in our state. But the constitutional development of the J&K State was already a 100-year-old process when Sheikh Abdulla took over the administrative control. The goddess of Freedom smiled on us and that smile was fortified by the generosity of the central government.
Once the state started functioning, the first task that was taken up was to change the social relation of production and distribution. And we see that land to tiller programme was initiated and completed with vengeance much before the rest of India started moving on this front. Pakistan, on the other hand, never fulfilled the promise of the land reform. No wonder Pakistan’s peasantry is in very bad shape economically.
But this socialist move by the State alarmed America and she commissioned Stevenson to meet with Sheikh Abdulla to confirm whether the state was moving towards communism. This one foolish move by America made Abdulla to behave suspiciously afterwards which ended up in his incarceration in August ’53.
If the central government extended magnanimous economic and moral support to a very backward J&K State, it was no favour. This gesture was a responsibility and the centre were not so uncivilised to turn a blind eye to the needs of the state. But one small point I want to make here is that: Did the centre restrict the freedom of speech, religion, business of the people in lieu of the generous aid? Did the centre interfere in the cultural lives of different sects of the state? Did the Central government make Kashmiris slaves through civilised means?
Public distribution system was in vogue in Kashmir much before India became free. For 25 years Kashmiris were supplied food grains @ 11 kg/head at a very nominal price of Rs 0.40 per kg till sheikh Abdulla reversed this order after 1977 election. It is this magnanimous support, coupled with the gifts of free education and free medical care did Kashmir conquer her poverty. And it is this unsolicited help which made the youth to challenge the very hands that fed their parents.
“No change in circumstances can repair a defect in character”. That is what R W Emerson says. After Indira Gandhi nationalised the banks, money in the form of loans were made available for initiating manufacturing revolution in industrially backward Kashmir. What happened to those loans, no body has any idea. But I will share an anecdote to fortify my observation.
In the year 1975, a loan recovery officer of SBI from Delhi visited Kashmir to check up why the loans had turned bad. He had an appointment with our FC as well. In the meeting he revealed that non-existent House Boats have been advanced loans! Such was the scenario as it existed much before Sheikh Abdulla took over. If you sow nettle how can you remain safe from allergies!
The moral turpitude of Kashmiri leaders finally became so untenable that they conceived a plan to redirect the nemesis towards the central government in 1989. And lo and behold the war in Afghanistan helped in pushing Kashmir in a whirlpool of death and destruction. The minority Pandits are out and on the roads now.
If today any Kashmiri Muslim thinks that they are holding all the trump cards, then they are wrong. If they hold the opinion that worst comes worst they can succeed in going back to the constitutional position of 1953, then they are absolutely wrong. The people should understand that by starting an armed struggle they have exposed their very weak positions because India has infinitely more fire power than Pakistan can manage to arm them with. That is the first dampener. Second, entire Kashmir is involved which has disrupted the progress of the tourist industry. So, peoples’ livelihood is threatened. And coupled with the Damocles sword hanging on the fruit industry, people are paying a price which they can hardly afford.
If Muslims think that by decorating an insurrection with religious attire and pawn it as Jihad, then it is our duty to tell them that in this country of 85 crores, there are many organisations to counter Jamaat Islami Narrative. They can easily raise 85 lac civilian force fully armed to take on your Jihad because they too want to set right many historical wrongs. It will be prudent on the part of the Hurriyat to take a second look at their operational plan.
India has always, ever since she achieved freedom, exhibited great restraint in the face of grave provocations simply because she has to solve the problems associated with poverty. India has from times immemorial followed the principle of “Live and let live” to sustain a culture of high value.
There is no war which can be an answer to all wars. The answer to all wars is peace. The comfort that love provides can’t be procured with war. For when humans forgot the principle of ‘live and let live’ Jews became like wandering tribes for 1800 years. They had to perform low level characters in Shakespeare’s dramas. They had to negotiate Hitler’s gas chambers. When this principle sinks out of human memory, then Palestinians become prisoners in homes and refugees outside. And women in Bosnia can’t refuse to be vandalised because they have to feed their kids. If you have to understand the price one pays to reverse the progress of history, enquire from the Muslims of Bosnia, Jews of Israel and Pathans of Afghanistan. Confirm from the Sinhalese population of Sri-Lanka. When people forget the principle of ‘live and let live’ then 5 million Afghans live in abject penury in the camps erected in three countries. And when Ali Mohd Jinnah forgets this principle, a river of refugees inundates the sub-continent.
When this principle was violated, small kids were denied even water in the desert of Karbala. And when the Kashmiri separatists forgot it, the Kashmiri Pandits found themselves in 6×8 tents in sweltering heat of the Indian plains. They stretch their hands to eclipse the sun but the sun singes their hands!
Those who have dismembered the highly evolved Kashmiri society and are in control of war conditions now should publish a pamphlet describing atrocities committed by KP’s against the Muslims so that world also gets informed to enable it to understand whether targeting the Pandits was justified or not. Had the Pandits known that the Parmeshwari Agitation (ref ch 1 part 1) would deprive them of their homes and hearths, then they might have resorted to some other means to resolve the issue? If any person nurses this conviction that once KP’s are out, their territorial rights vanish in thin air, they should rethink. “The evil that men do lives after them”-Shakespeare. Every evil like every good has to complete a life cycle.
Today Kashmiri Muslims have become wiser and are in a better position to understand that systems evolved by previous generation are assets and not liabilities. The case of Arab Spring needs to be understood dispassionately. The case of Syria is a reminder that you can’t fiddle with the present. Only 12 young men came out and within five years Syria became a rubble. A three-thousand-year-old civilisation is in a shamble. Now who will take the responsibility of destruction on a mass scale?
Idrees Khwaja writing in Dawn News Paper on 10 12 2017 writes: A conservative estimate puts Madressahs 30,000 across Pakistan. Now assume each Maddressah produces ten graduates means 300,000 in a year or three million in ten years. Lots of these will remain out of job and fall in the category of “fit to be exploited group” Add to this out of school children who enter labour market without any skills fit to be exploited.
If such people (Clerics) ask Madressah students/graduates to sit in or even kill, many say yes, because they have been told that obedience to leader is the crucial part of the Faith. Lat June the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia referred to Pakistan “as a slave country”. All too often, militancy is linked to Madressah students or graduates or to young people with little education. Many have observed that Madressah students and other young people are led to believe that salvation hereafter lies in killing for a cause, thus suggesting the presence of those who want to exploit a situation.
Today world is more disorganised than it was yesterday. This happens because systems disorganise automatically. This is the Law of Entropy. A potato is a system and it disorganises. We call it rotting. So, systems have to be sustained by external means to keep them in good health. Ever since the phrase ‘liberalisation’ was popularised the Indian State has started withdrawing in order to save money. It is visible only in Défense and Public Works now. As the State withdraws private players take over. The poor are now poorer now than when they were under the Mughals. The latent crime is sweeping the Indian hinterland. We have to tread cautiously now. But I have doubts.
The political future of India like Pakistan is an open question.