Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Rewriting History to Protect a Higher Ideal

Javaid's effort in presenting a fresh perspective on the return of aboriginal population of Kashmir is laudable, but violence that befell on Pandits prior to their exodus is as real as the historical amity that exists among Kashmiris of all faiths

(Professor Javaid Iqbal Bhat, 31, was born in Anantnag. He completed his Bachelor's degree from the Amar Singh College, Srinagar, and his M.A. and M. Phil. from the Centre for English Studies in the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He was nominated for the President of India Gold Medal for the highest Final Grade Point Average (FGPA) in the Masters Programme, and got Distinction for his M. Phil. dissertation on Salman Rushdie's "Shalimar the Clown." He currently teaches as a permanent faculty in the Post Graduate Department of English at the South Campus of the University of Kashmir.)


No, this is not going to be an essay on the precious short story “After Twenty Years” written by William Sidney Porter. We are on a different route here; though the main drift is no less poignant than in the timeless classic. The problem haunting the imagination of Kashmiris for a long time is back in the private conversation. It was there always but this time round it has rearrived with a deeper sense of urgency. Yes, my reference is to the unfortunate migration of Kashmiri Hindus to different parts of India. The mainstream print media and the news channels are giving extensive coverage to the life-in-exile of the aboriginal population of Kashmir. The occasion for this rediscovered love is the twentieth anniversary of the migration.

The focus is on their condition and hope-in-the-air of return. Many people are asking whether there is really any scope and promise of the re-embracement of their homeland; deep down the question knocking the heart is whether it would not be hazardous to go back to a place which remains fundamentally unresolved and is practically in the same shape and design as it was twenty years before. What guarantee is there that the ‘unresolved place’ would not re-smoulder? It is also an occasion for others, less sensible probably, to recast the shadow of Mr. Jagmohan over the entire episode of migration. It is such a bogus proposition to entirely associate him with the migration; he was a willing facilitator not the primary initiator and motivator. The truth, and we should be the last human beings on earth to be told so given what we have been made to pass through, is that when fear grips the human heart then even the beat of this essential organ becomes an enemy; we wish it pauses for a few seconds till the moment of fear leaves. It was fear which drove them away. Leave alone Jagmohan if Mother Teresa had been Governor even then all roads out of fear pointed towards the Jawahar Tunnel. And do we need to be told about the hundreds of Muslim families which ran for their life from the villages to the dense cities and Jammu? Who asked them to flee? None but Fear. Perhaps out of vengeance against this Jagmohan-is-responsible claim, this character has crystallized into a god like figure in their pantheon. That is why “My Frozen Turbulence” is rated third in number after Bhagwad Gita and Rajataragini. Well that may be wrong but the very rumour sends across the signal. The twentieth anniversary has got the lens of attention back on them; not much is there to offer which can be termed as new. However, my perception is that instead of latching on to the points of controversy it is time to move on out of the loops of hate and counter hate.

In this futuristic perspective there are a couple of points. First is related to the regimented ‘organization’ of one group against the other. One thing on which we can draw upon with some benefit is that at the popular level there has not occurred any organized violence against the Kashmiri Hindus; nor has it happened from the side of the Hindus against the Kashmiri Muslims. The people saying anything against should even now see how the non migrant Hindus are indistinguishable in their routine life from the Muslims. Yes there has taken place an organization of expressions of each groups inclinations and aspirations. It is these organized expressions, in the form of various parties and movements with little understanding of the character of popular matrix which have hijacked the artificial divide between the two communities. It is their nefarious persuasions and political motivations which are trying to leech away the remaining amity and seek to strengthen the existing divide. There have materialized small incidents of organized violent behaviour between Shias and Sunnis; between Hindus and Muslims the same is practically non existent. My village, just to underline an example, is home to some fourteen or fifteen non migrant Hindu families. Since my birth up till now not one act of organized violence has been inscribed on them or their properties. In fact the village boasts of a Gurudwara, mosques and would-be-constructed-soon temple. Even during these twenty years when opportunities were legion to organise and commit acts of violence not one came across. Even as “atrocities”, as an euphemism for the spine chilling terror from very well known sources, was let loose on Muslims not one Hindu was harmed.

There is another area worth a keen mention. This is about the absurd expectations. The migrant Hindus in different parts of India should understand that Kashmir of 2010 has moved far away from the Kashmir of the late 80’s of the previous century. Most of the elders who were very familiar with their unique moorings have gone. The remaining is caught up in a web of anxieties; not least among which is the gap increasingly felt between themselves and the new techno savvy generations. Their world is fast giving way to a fresh order of things and situations. On their part the youth are weighed down by the want of economic security and the undying monster of unemployment. They are more worried about their useless degrees in a market saturated beyond their dreams than the ingredients of a syncretic culture celebrated in the media and whose drum is beaten under their ears. For them it makes more sense to wait for the next notification from the Public Service Commission than being informed that the exiled Hindus would soon return. Keeping away the mess of politics, the social scene is no less crowded, noisome and worse, confusing. That since their departure we have assumed the star position of the second most corrupt state in India should sums up the micro picture, and should goad them to do a trimming of their expectations. And return with modest desires; life is no fairy tale brotherhood, the words Hindu and Muslim are subservient to the hunger for power and money. However, it is not easy to detach the mind from the fond memory of the past; more so a mind which was, courtesy an array of mixed circumstances, made to sever the connection from that past. For such a mind and heart, the homeland in exile metamorphoses into an ‘imaginary homeland’, an idealized copy of the real. The problem with a heart in sorrow, a homeless heart, is that it ends up in squaring the past in a nice frozen frame, unwilling to accept the passage of time. The smell of the abandoned rooms and courtyards is put in the museum of memories.

Yet the world does not exclusively run on dreams and airy imaginations; story book paradise is a passé. Where there is a face off between the ‘golden’ past and the grim present, the choice ought to be not a convenient via media but in our case a stride or two ahead: Future. It is in that context that the expectations have to be truncated to fit in with the existing scenario. The greater the expectations the higher the disappointments. That in no way implies that the new generations of Muslims are not to be sensitized to the circumstance of their exit and the mutual-benefit of their reentry. Unlike the end in the story referred to in the beginning let us wish for a reunion which is shorn of the emotional predicaments; a reunion wrought with the feeling of a need for calm cohabitation.

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