It is time for the people of Kashmir to introspect

Jaibans Singh

Sufis in KashmirIf there is one true example of a “Paradise lost” it is the Kashmir Valley. The land is beautiful and cursed in equal measure. How a place as holy as this region, the abode of Gods, Goddesses, Saints and Sufis can be subject to so much pain and suffering is incomprehensible.

A lot of what is happening can be related to the Kashmiri psyche. Rajatarangini, the recorded history of the Kashmir Valley, speaks more of persecution than periods of peace. Particularly in the last 300 years or so the area has seen one invader after the other.

Under these circumstances, the Kashmiri’s developed a unique system of surviving under authoritarian regimes. They were both devious and subservient to the authorities while being close knit within themselves.

Amidst the persecution, they retained faith in the holy character of their land. This explains the close bond between the Kashmiri Pundits, the Kashmir Muslims and the other communities that are settled over there like the Sikhs. They were of different faiths but followed a common culture, a culture that has now been given a name – Kashmiriyat.

They jointly revered their Sufi saints like Lalleshwari, Rupa Bhawani, Sheikh Nuruddin, Parmanand, Rishipir, Jeewan Shah and many more as also the abodes of Lord Shiva like the Shankaracharya and the Shri Amarnath shrines.

This community living, religious affiliation and “management of authority” carried on till August 1947 when the Indian subcontinent rid itself of the British yoke but was unfortunately divided on religious lines.

Before the destiny of Kashmir could be decided in an equitable and just manner, evil forces from Pakistan cast their eyes on the region and invaded it. The invaders unleashed a horrifying brand of barbarity on the hapless people till such time that the Indian army went in as saviours and restored the situation.

The people suffered terribly before a portion of the land came into the fold of the Indian Union and finally attained what the people had  aspired for hundreds of years – complete freedom as part of a Democratic Union.

For the people, sadly, what happened was too sudden. After years of subservience they were not ready for such a major change. They started looking for demons everywhere; being suspicious by nature they started suspecting the motives of the very Constitution of India and the Government of the Union of India.

Some political leaders and heads of feudal families in Kashmir looked at this development as a means to further their personal ambitions. They raised a cause for complete independence of Jammu and Kashmir, a dispensation where the Union would do all the dirty work of guarding their lives and providing financial sustenance while they would be free to lord over not only the Kashmir Valley but the entire state.

These leaders and feudal lords cleverly used certain provisions of the Constitution and the vulnerabilities of their docile and simple people to further their objectives.

They brainwashed the people into believing that the Government of India was the new “authority” that they were required to raise a voice against. The people did not realise that a separate flag and a Prime Minister would, in no way, enhance the freedom that was already guaranteed to them under the Indian Constitution. Soon the matter took the shape of a dispute.

For the Government of India, the burden of looking after the new nation was so heavy that it did not wish to get embroiled in a small political skirmish with a state, thus, whenever a few slogans were raised it gave some money and the matter was settled.

Thus a pattern set up, the new system of “management of authority” envisaged raising of Azaadi (Freedom) slogans to compel the centre into granting a financial package. Of this, a few Rupees were given to those who raised slogans and the remainder was pocketed by the leadership who gained astounded wealth.

Unfortunately, the system habituated the people to corruption and getting money without working for it. What they did not realise was that they were victims of corruption of their own leaders and not the centre.

A bigger misfortune that befell the hapless people was the advent of foreign sponsored terrorism which broke their social fabric and brought in, forcefully, a brand of Islam that was totally at odds to their enlightened Sufi version.

The after effect of this development is being seen now when the youth are turning towards Islamic radicalism without understanding what their culture actually stands for.

It is so sad to note that the Kashmir leadership. for petty personal gain, stood aside and allowed this political, social and religious churning to take place.

The young boys of Kashmir, like everybody else in India, aspire for a life of hard work and good money. The constant grouse against India that their elders harbour (out of habit) and speak of so eloquently, has created in them a feeling of frustration; they have constructed in their minds a totally wrong belief that India stands between them and their aspirations.

They do not pause to think that, in the very same India and without Article 370 or some other special status, their contemporaries are moving forward at a fast pace. They do not realise that they can also do so if they concentrate on their studies.

They are so misinformed that while stone pelting their own Police force and the paramilitary they look at the Indian Army as an enemy. Little do they realise that the army is protecting their very life and existence from an assault by some extraordinarily brutal and diabolic forces.

It is time for the Kashmir people to introspect; they need figure out as to how the rest of the Indian people are using freedom and democracy to surge forward. They need to realise that democracy gives certain powers and freedom to the individual to progress and prosper. This has to be leveraged by the individual personally. They should understand that at the behest of a few corrupt families they are walking on the wrong path and inflicting untold damage on their coming generations.

Finally, instead of aping a new form of fundamentalist religion being thrust down their throat by those who wish to keep them subservient they should restore their enlightened and integrative  Sufi credentials and resurrect Kashmiriyat.

The choice for Kashmiris is very clear, democracy and freedom with India or a fate akin to Syria and Afghanistan. One can only hope that good sense will prevail.

(Jaibans Singh is an author and columnist)

Jaibans Singh
About Jaibans Singh 485 Articles
Jaibans Singh is a Delhi based analyst of defence and security affairs specialising in J&K and Pakistan. He is Post graduate in Journalism and Mass Communication from Punjabi University with a Gold Medal. His areas of interest are Analysing defence and security aspects which impact national security, sharing views in reputed think tanks like CLAWS and CENJOWS of which he is a member, providing consutancy to defence based visual media projects of noted channels like DD and National Geographic and other freelance defence related work.

1 Comment

  1. The ARTCLE written is by a person who is idealistic for humanity , which people like him comprise of 99% who like peace and humanity and are hardly concerned with evil surroundings , while the 1% which is evil and are the ruling elite with uniformed people which brigade to become the evil nexus and are considering the other 99% as enemies of the state , in which they will consider 97% Mulsims as Enemies of FIRST grade .
    The1% has sown so much hatred as they are not ready to reason out what the country has promised or has to give even if it has been or part of constitution
    We should not forget that kashmir IS NOT AN INTEGRAL PART OF INDIA keeping in view the Article 253 and presidential order (J&K) of 1954 by which IT IS NOT UNCONSTITUTIONAL TO ASK FOR PLEBISCITE as it is enshrined in Indian constitution to do so as per the UN auspices as has been resolved by UN .
    We should not forget that india has given written confirmation and acceptance of UN resolutions for referendum and plebiscite and with simultaneously withdrawal of forces by both Pakistan and India at the same time. The UN resolution also has resolved and accepted by India that there will be no effect as to the disposal of J&K even if the constituent Assembly passes any of such conditions which will effect the DISPOSAL of J&K.
    India uses this constituent assembly for saying to its citizens that J&K is an integral part of India , when the fact is that this constituent Assembly has no loci standii in the disposal of J&k .
    Hence Internationally and as per the ARTICLE 253 which pertains to international section has accepted Kashmir to be an International issue and has to be internationally resolved as per the WILL OF PEOPLE.
    It must be also understood that India refused to accept the DICKSON PLAN which would have segregated areas which wanted India and Pakistan , but both countries have agreed that only two options Pakistan and India will be given in totality as a whole for referundum which includes POK and IOK in totality. Not as is being shown to Indian citizen that stakeholders are Jammu, Ladakh, samba etc they would have been if area wise would had to be delineated. Here we have total area POK +IOK to be delineated in one referundum .
    India has broken the trust and intruded into the laws or areas of accession or refused to implement the UN resolutions as it is in complete knowledge that because of the trust deficit in Kashmir created by the 1% intolerant Indians.
    The best thing India does now is fix the date for referundum and put the ball rolling and in order Pakistan is put on defensive by adding that India is ready to uphold the UN resolutions under UN auspices and will ask that people who vote for india or Pakistan ,further can vote between india or independent and the Pakistani vote for Pakistan or independent , by which india will also get area where people who want to be with India , and Pakistan will get also area with people who want to be with Pakistan . People who chose independent will also get the third part which can be used as BUFFER area between India And Pakistan. …. This is my idea and picked this idea which Nehru had in the end agreed to give when he sent Sheikh Abdullah to Kashmir but unfortunately Nehru died as Sheikh had to come back…. This shows to me should be acceptable to india . Pakistan and people who want to be independent. Yes the land will be proportional to the people who will choose india /Pakistan or independent.
    If not acceptable then only solution is UN resolutions which has referundum and plebiscite.


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