Historian and writer, Chitralekha Zutshi, writes in “The Print” – The idea of Kashmiriyat is dead. The article is shared across multiple digital portals including The Scroll. That apart, this article comes up almost forty days after the abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir. Another Article came up in The Print, written by Zainab Sikandar, wherein she lamented the loss of voice of Muslims, making it impossible for anyone to raise a voice of protest against the killing of Pehlu Khan or Tabrez Ansari because of Jinnah, as the article claimed in the title, however, eventually she ends up blaming the fact that the Muslims did not take Jinnah’s invitation to join Pakistan, the Land of faithful, the Islamic republic for eventually landing in this situation in a Hindu majority state.
She carefully forgets that both Pehlu Khan and Tabrez Ansari case hogged both national and international headlines for months if not years. She also forgets while the well-coordinated, media-left nationwide protests in both the cases remained constant fodder for Primetime debates on Mainstream channels and source material for editorials in national dailies, there was a studied silence on later investigation results declaring that Junaid case had nothing to do with beef, that the meat found in Akhlaq’s home was beef (it is banned by the law promulgated by the Congress under Indira Gandhi as per the directive principle of Indian Constitution in the state), that Pehlu Khan was a cow smuggler engaged in the illegal cow-slaughter industry and that Tabrez Ansari died three days after and was a thief.
She will not talk about Chandan, killed by Muslims for asking the price of Lassi he was selling, Dhruv Tyagi killed for opposing molestation of his daughters by Muslim neighbors, Ramalingam, slaughtered for opposing conversion and three ascetics killed by splitting their bodies in the middle in Kanpur, a six-year-old killed by Muslim neighbor in UP and another in Delhi, Dalit burnt alive in UP and Dalit raped in Rajasthan.
People taking law in their hands is a sad thing and can never be supported. Any lynching is a failure of the law to act, or a manifestation of lack of faith of common people in the legal system of the society. It is not a new phenomenon, and it goes long back in the history, even to pre-independence days when a well-known freedom fighter Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi was lynched by a Muslim mob when he went trying to pacify people during a riot. His body was only to be discovered a few days later and no one even had the decency to hand his body over.
Even on the day, Tabrez was beaten, a Dalit tribal, Mangru Pahan was lynched by three rowdy Muslims outside his house. Unlike Tabrez, Mangru’s antecedents were clean, he was an honest, hardworking, daily-wage labour working in the same state of Jharkhand and was in his own house when killed merely for asking three drug-addict men to move away from his house where he lived with one teenage daughter and two other kids. He never made it to the headline and his ancestor never gave him an option to move to a Hindu land unlike the parents of Zainab Sikander who could have but did not move to Pakistan.
Bharat, Dr Narang, Ramalingam, Dhruv Tyagi, Riya Gautam have this land and this land only, whether they die in silence without a drop of tear shed for them. The organized protest around half-baked propaganda around Rohith Vemula to Junaid might not be to the violent standards of Azad Maidan protests for the co-religionists in faraway land to gain the approval of Ms Sikandar; they are enough to raise an angry disgust against the hypocrisy of these thought-leaders among the common people and no one will buy her argument that these deaths, unfortunate as they are, have been met with no protests across the country.
I was wondering why such articles are again suddenly appearing, with such propensity in such marked platforms. Then I realized that Pakistan address in UNGA is about to come and just as a child does the revision before the examinations, Indian tutors are tutoring the child who fails all exams, merely on account of the dishonesty of his answers. Pakistan’s key arguments in UNGA on Kashmir is likely to revolve around intolerant Hinduism, the validation of two-nation theory (It was put forth in the first session in Pakistan Parliament after abrogation of Article 370, that Kashmiri leaders who first did not join Pakistan as per Two-Nation theory, must now understand their error), Secularism in Kashmir threatened by abrogation of Article 370 (Don’t ask me how restoration of secularism is a cause for Islamic world, since one cannot expect consistency from Pakistan as a nation and Imran Khan as the leader of it).
So, Ms Zainab’s article did the first two chapters as a refresher for the dim-wit student and the third that of Kashmiriyat is expected to be done by the latest article of Chitralekha Zutshi who lives in London and writes about Kashmir. This is another round of fire on behalf of Pakistan is evident from the fact that both the articles are brazenly selective and openly partial. Both Zainab and Chitralekha are well-read people, I wonder what drives them to write their little half-truths to fit in the Pakistani propaganda. There will be more to come until this theatre of absurd after stand-up, sit-down and lie-down drama of Pakistan culminates into a drama of desperation, reaches its last scene and the haggard handsome of Pakistan has sung in the UN Assembly on 27th of September, 2019.
Chitralekha Zutshi begins in a sombre and sad tone, stating Kashmiriyat is dead. She says Kashmiriyat has been dying through decades, claims it had secularism and human values associated with it and now Indian Government’s decision to abrogate Article 370 drives the last nail in the coffin. I am often confounded with this sense of elitism with which the term ‘Kashmiriyat’ is oft-repeated in terms of State of Kashmir. Romantic writers created this illusion to hide the inconvenient truth when an entire generation of one particular religion was wiped out from Kashmir.
No, Ms Zutshi, Kashmiriyat did not die today. It died long ago and today the Central Government has only exorcised the ghost of an idea which was glamourized to defend religious fanaticism which demanded to be treated differently from any other state, merely because one particular religion was in majority in that state. It is really strange that Ms Zutshi credits the state that used Article 370 for special and exclusive treatment, to keep even reference to the term ‘Secularism’ out of state constitution is credited with secularism under the same Article which kept secularism out of the state. For an ordinary fanatic to utter such lie is acceptable, but for an academic to lend weight to such a fake narrative with her hefty credentials is almost criminal. She laments that Kashmir is no longer special. She does not explain why it should be special and not Bihar from where Ashoka came to lay down the founding stones of the first city of Kashmir, Srinagar with its Vishnu temples. In Bihar too, Hindus and Muslims live together in harmony, have lived together; it is a poor state and monetary assistance from the centre pales in comparison to what Kashmir gets on a per-capita basis. Why Bihariyat doesn’t deserve special status and Kashmiriyat does, is hard to understand except that special interest Kashmir gets from Pakistan, being a Muslim-majority state in a Hindu-majority nation.
It is really sad to find the learned academic struggling through the contradictory commentary she writes in order to establish a narrative – of wronged Kashmiri, of righteous Jihadis. She writes, for instance, and I quote- ‘Islam has made inroads into Kashmir not through force but rather peaceful means.’ In the next sentence she writes- ‘Beginning with the Mughals, alien rulers had destroyed Kashmir’s peace and plunged its people, regardless of religious affiliation, into a benighted state.’ She says this helped National Conference to distinguish itself from the Muslim League and their Two-Nation theory.
Writers have written that Two-nation theory was a hoax. Sheikh Abdullah almost achieved what Maulana Iqbal and even Maulana Mahdudi dreamt of- an autonomous Muslim state within India. This would have created an exclusively Muslim state with its rules and governance, funded, protected and supported by Hindu India. Maulana Mehdudi wrote that his idea of Pakistan was to be- ‘Only a Muslim cultural home and not a Muslim state, but if God wills it, the two may become one.’ This possibly explains the lack of administrative and political readiness of leaders of Pakistan when they eventually got a state to build and rule. The article, supposedly attempting to trace back the history, moves from a pre-independence era when Muslim Conference became National Conference (post a split, which she doesn’t delve upon) to post-independence. She credits this transformation of MC to NC to secularism inherent in Kashmiriyat which Sheikh Abdullah discovered suddenly, forgetting that while claiming Kashmir to be a Muslim cause and invoking the Ummah all along, Imran Khan too covers it up with cries of secularism and democracy. With splendid sophistry and creative craftiness, she writes, ‘As India and Pakistan battled over the erstwhile princely state’ making it sound like it was aggression towards Kashmir which was equally shared by Indian and Pakistan. It is strange the even Indians, after some time in the west, slip into this tendency of hyphenating world’s largest democracy with a rogue state which has found the sole reason of its existence in the creation of chaos for the whole world.
The Print ignores that Kashmir acceded to Indian not because India and Pakistan went to fight for it, rather because it was attacked by the Tribals from North-West Pakistan, backed by Pakistan Army. A desperate King reached out to India and India agreed to step into the fight only if Kashmir were to become a part of India. The participation of Pakistan Army regulars in this tribal invasion could not remain hidden for a long time and within months UN mission discovered this. It is great intellectual dishonesty on the part of the writer to have bent the facts to fit her narrative. She fleetingly refers to terrorism in Kashmir and rather brushes it under the alienation of Kashmiri Muslims. This argument of alienation on account of neglect by the centre always sends me back to people for Bihar, UP and Odisha, braving the rain and sun, sometimes hostility and beatings in another state for the sake of mere sustenance in the face of abject misgovernance and state apathy.
They do not feel alienated enough to threaten to leave the union, and Kashmiris, in spite of being the most pampered lot, feel so alienated that the answers of alienation can only be found in the ISIS flags raised by the Kashmiri Muslims now and then. She then links Kashmir insurgency with what she calls Hindu majoritarianism of the BJP. She forgets that the genocide of Kashmiri Hindus in the valley began when BJP was a national entity in the national politics. Thankfully, she ends her essay there else she would have linked slavery in the United States, Mao’s Long March, Stalin’s Purges and Hitler’s gas chamber with the BJP. There is no point rebutting such a fake article but then there is purpose and design behind not only in the written word, rather in the hidden hands which propagates such shoddily written pieces on an industrial scale. It is meant to mould the western minds in favour of Pakistan and against India in the most subtle manner.
They will pretend to act as a voice in support of secularism while demanding special treatment for the majority community in Kashmir; will act as an advocate of democracy while supporting Pakistan which has sent the previous elected PM to the prisons, the gallows or to exile. And they all know what it is that they are actually supporting. If you name that word, you will be termed bigot and Hindu nationalist, as if the latter was an abuse for the Hindus who are nationalists. It is a pity that Hinduphobic is still not a word in the English dictionary.