History repeats, roles reverse
Quit India (1942) and Abdullah’s arrest (1953)!
DR.JAVID IQBAL WRITES ON THE TWO COURSE-CHANGING EVENTS.
9th August, India the oppressed nation under the British yoke, asked her tormentor to leave lock, stock and barrel in 1942 and in 1953, history repeated albeit with a reversal of roles, India put in prison the very person she had banked on to sell brand India to Kashmir. History is bizarre, its lesson difficult to decipher, as you see nations exercising the very option that was found abhorring, when the whiplash of history struck them. In 1953, with Abdullah’s arrest in Kashmir, a needless query was put on a nation, which was imparting moral lessons to the rest of the world. Vis-à-vis Kashmir, the question looms large, and as it stands today, no answers are forthcoming-the confrontation continues.
In 1942, the wheel had turned full circle. All else politically possible, socially viable and nationally feasible had been tried. Faced with mere promises of addressing India’s concerns only after World War Second came to a fair conclusion, India felt it had had enough. Britain, the paramount power wanted to ensure India’s active participation in the war effort.
Congress, the RAJ felt, held the key. Mahatma Gandhi was a pragmatist. He would not be fed on promises. The RAJ could have his cooperation, at a price! The price he demanded was total Indian Independence. He had a sound argument; a man in bondages could not fight.
Churchill was managing a difficult coalition in Britain. So was Mahatma Gandhi. Congress, India’s political conglomerate was never ever, since its inception in later part of 19th century, an ideologically homogenous force. It was, at best an umbrella provided to cover the ideologically diverse political forces. They had nevertheless a common aim - India’s independence.
However, with Gandhi’s call to Britishers to quit India, the division in the conglomerate became apparent. Communists though a separate party had always played the second fiddle. With the call, they were seen playing a different tune. Russia had switched ends, with Germany pushing towards East in addition to West of Europe. Contrary to Stalinist perception, Hitler did not extend the courtesy of keeping East of Europe in communist hands. Stalin joined allies. In India, Communists preferred to fight fascism of Germans rather than the imperialism of the British.
Mahatma Gandhi was, however in no mood to give the Brits an easy ride in India. Revered as a saint across length and breadth of a country of continental proportions, he was nevertheless down to earth in calculating the pros and cons of the struggle, he nourished. Britain had their satellites in Indian states; Maharajas, Rajas and Nawabs. With this support plus the left handed support of communists, the RAJ felt, they had enough on board to checkmate Mahatma. Gandhi however, was not the one to be checkmated so easily. Whatever Britain might have gained in material terms and in human resources was made questionable in moral terms. Deftly, he would put a question mark on the projected Christian values of the west. He would squeeze their democratic space, their talk of equality and fraternity.
Moreover he had a word of advice for ‘Allied’ forces. That was to avoid an active confrontation and resist the ‘Axis’ not by force of arms but by his own novel political tool of ‘Satyagarah’. Although attributed to him, Mahatma did not claim it to be a novel method. Jesus Christ, he would remind the West had sermonized on turning the other cheek, in facing violence. “An eye for an eye would leave the whole world blind” said Mahatma. Hard nosed with stiff upper lip, the characteristics British Islanders were known for, remained un-impressed except for pacifists, of whom there were not many, especially with Churchill at the head of proceedings in Britain.
Quit India was an investment in future. And the future did not prove too distant. Within five years, just a breather in the life of nation; Mahatma’s anointed successor, Nehru was announcing the arrival of a new dawn. At midnight of 15th August.1947, he was talking of tryst with destiny. Nehru was the star of the show, not Mahatma. He was in distant Noakhali in Bengal trying to cool tempers of his frenzied countrymen. India had gained independence amidst a blood bath. The investment in human terms lay shattered in avenues, lanes and by-lanes across the subcontinent.
Sheikh Abdullah, preferred to lead his people out of communal holocaust, rather than be led by and overtaken by a hateful sentiment. In his case especially, the stakes were very high. Yet, he walked a path angels fear to tread. Mahatma Gandhi saw a ray of hope emanating from Kashmir, while the rest of country was in mad frenzy. Abdullah saw the fallout of sub continental madness in a part of his own state and even with that he was able to keep his main constituents in the vale of Kashmir away from eye for eye frenzy, helped without a doubt by the centuries old Kashmiri values of tolerance. Tolerance that held in the face of grave provocations, until it became a time tested one. Abdullah however had worked-up alliances, which did not stand him in good stead, in the testing time that lay ahead. The one he cherished most was with Mahatma’s anointed successor-Pundit Nehru!
Sheikh and Pundit had taken to each other like proverbial lovers. Both saw lot of romance in politics, as both were romanticists, with high sentimental level, levels where pitfalls are not far away, due to equally high expectation level. Sheikh had switched to secular plank, once he was convinced that deprivation is universal and dispossessed might and do exist in all religious, social and ethnic groupings. He opted for secular India, in preference to his co-religionists in Pakistan, with the hope that his Kashmiriyat would find a space in the larger Indian national perspective. He had doubts that the other side might dilute the cultural essence of Kashmir, in the name of religion.
True, Abdullah was religious too and felt strongly that his spiritual belief is not in variance, with the specific features of Kashmir’s culture. He had worked it out that strata of religion in Kashmir had a comforting cushion in sub strata of culture. He saw no reason or could visualize, no difficulty of a similar workout at a higher strata of functioning, a merging of beliefs.
However, what was workable at the local level, could not work at the wider strata of Indian nationhood. Or, the working was not to the level of Abdullah’s expectations.
Abdullah, in addition was full of fresh ideas and due to high comfort level with his people, he thought, whatever he would plan, would be easily implemental. And it was not an empty boast. The pace and intensity of his land reforms, one and all concede was phenomenal. He achieved it with a rapidity that would have done credit to a socialist of highest order. In the autocratic rule before 1947, most of the large land holdings belonged to the community, which had the same ethnicity and religious hue, as that of rulers.
As it could not be objected to on socio-political grounds, a communal colouring was given to the highly desired reform. In addition, there was an attempt to dilute the cultural and religious mix, which Abdullah had hoped would find space in Indian nationhood. It was easier said than done.
Abdullah’s insistence on maintaining the ideal, gave a handle to his detractors to mock him, with the slogan of- Ek Pradhan, Ek Nishan, Ek Vidhan!
Abdullah had just on hope, in the face of heavy odds. His friend Nehru, unfortunately failed to provide the support, he needed to pull through. The gathering storm resulted in reversal of roles, a reversal from the high moral ground of 1942. Kashmir’s comfort level with India has failed to come to the levels of expectations of the days the relationship of trust was first put in practice.
Alas! The political honeymoon was short lived, though relationship continues, the usual roll down rocks now and then. The political sagacity needed to put it on track is lacking, the lost credibility would need a huge political input and not the force of arms. Sooner, the better!
Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi
[Reunion is subordinate to survival]
(Feedback at Iqbal_drji6217@yahoo.co.in or email@example.com.)
Lastupdate on : Sat, 7 Aug 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 7 Aug 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 8 Aug 2010 00:00:00 IST
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