In the Court of Memory

Though severely disallowing emotion to come in the way, the Jammu Massacre grills us to the core



WITH a note of excuse to the Italian thinker, Giorgio Agamben, we shuffle the ends of his conceptual term. Agamben speaks of Living Dead, that in Kashmiri we all are. But here we talk of Dead Alive that God knows how many of us have become. Among those who were done to Death, and thus became eternally Alive, were the tens of thousands of Muslims in Jammu.  The history of Kashmir that we inherited started with a bloodbath. Those tens of thousands that were subjected to a studied carnage, is the most grilling memory of how a problem called Kashmir was born. The November 1947 Jammu massacre is a pointed reminder of the condition that was imposed on us post 1947. It is also a serious reflection on what actually the problem of Kashmir is. Even while severely disallowing rhetoric and emotion to come in the way, the Jammu Massacre is a memory that grills us to the core.
 Before moving ahead into the topic, one caution is to be seriously observed. Massacres should not be assumed as mirrors that reflect the image of any community. Communities have more history of living together than tearing apart. Since in our case the geographical division of land has been cleverly, and wrongly, juxtaposed on the communal division of the population, the very mention of Jammu Massacre can invoke the feelings of hatred between two communities and two regions of the state. If we talk of what happened to the Muslims of Jammu in the wake of 1947 Partition it doesn’t mean a malevolent dig at any other community. Raking hatred is not even the last thing that can help in seeking a just place to this memory in the future works of history and literature.
 However, it doesn’t mean that we behave overly ‘sensitive’ and ‘polite’ and thus expunge this memory just because it might create some bad taste. That is criminal and no less. A historical crime was committed against one particular people and we have every right, rather we must, talk about it and get the world know about it. We do have examples where the historical crimes are  revisited in a studied way so that a concrete response is formulated. People are trying to identify the culprits and establish the blame. Even the modern day states are asked to accept the blame of what their predecessor political structures have done. There is a relentless campaign to hold the present day state of Turkey responsible for the massacres in Armenia. Many countries have acknowledged it as a genocide committed by the erstwhile Ottomon Empire. The details of the case may not be as simple as they might look, and may be the response of present day state of Turkey in denying that it was a genocide has a valid point, but what is important is how old crimes stay fresh.
 Looking at what happened in Jammu from this standpoint means not only refreshing a particular crime, but identifying the culprits. Now, as the primary caution demands, we cannot hold an entire community responsible for this. We know no community is a monolith, rather a composition of good and bad. This is true for all communities. But there are always groups and vested interests in a community that organize large scale killings. At the time of massacre what were the power centers; Dogra ruling elite, the state of India that was now run by Congress leaders and the National Conference leadership that was readying to have all the power to themselves, displacing the Dogra ruling elite. It is not that distant a past. The names of the persons, parties and families are known to all. A serious and dispassionate study of the Jammu massacre can very comfortably bring the culprits to light. Yes, political positions and communal bias should stay away. Whosoever is responsible to whatever extent must become known; it must become known to the world and to the people against whom the crime was committed. The perpetrators and their clever collaborators must all be put to shame. The world must know that some of the tallest political figures in India and Kashmir, at the time of partition, have blood on their hands.
 There are impending reasons for us to identify the culprits. Kashmir is a fresh wound and the task of pinpointing the hands that dipped the lance into our body is not unreal. Not just identifying the killers, punishing them in the possible ways we can is equally important. Punishment is not always physical, it can be consequential.
 Tailpiece: Gandhi was an iconic figure. But like many, he compromised his greatness in case of Kashmir. Else how could he notice the ‘Ray of Hope’ in Kashmir and miss the raging fires of communal violence in Jammu!

Lastupdate on : Wed, 7 Nov 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 7 Nov 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 8 Nov 2012 00:00:00 IST

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