Of Kashmiriyat

It is a questionable assertion

CONCEPT

DR. JAVID IQBAL

Marked assertion of Kashmiriyat hiked with Sheikh Abdullah coming on scene in 1931. The concept was dear to him. However in recent times, its assertion time and again from quarters not acquainted with religious leanings and cultural moorings of Kashmir have made it questionable. Its protagonists might call it innocuous; those who question the repeated assertion harbour a sense of resentment against outside elements and their local supporters for harping on just the ethnicity. Highlighting Kashmiriyat is linked to a specific political agenda of submerging Kashmir’s identity, say the skeptics…an identity that has religious overtones apart from cultural moorings. But for efforts seen as submerging identity, Kashmiriyat could indeed be innocuous. Reference is made of predominant religious stream of the valley making provision for assimilation of local culture. Taken, nevertheless the dilution, the effort at submerging is instantly resented, and by an overwhelming majority of people in the state.
In recent times, former governor--General Sinha, the person who hurt the local sentiments in more than one way talked of Sufism at the drop of the hat, with the mistaken notion that it is the soft face of Kashmir’s mainstream religion. So often did he relate the Sufi tale and linked it to Kashmir, that a wit commented in half jest…is this man—the governor, a former general appointed to recruit all Kashmiris in Sufi Brigade? That was said irrespective of the fact that Kashmiris are proud of their Sufi saints; from them they attain solace to uplift tormented spirits. And from whom they have learned the secrets of resistance and resilience. But, in General Sinha’s idiom, it had a different meaning, a different etymology, a different purpose…purpose of regimentation to streamline the society on a particular pattern, suiting an ill-conceived agenda. General Sinha was not the only one to sell the mix of Kashmiriyat and Sufism, as the ideal mixture for Kashmiris. The effort had been initiated much earlier by quarters interested in giving Kashmir’s battle of rights, a caption of their desire—one in tune with their agenda. The diversionary tactics were made operative, as Kashmir’s movement of reckoning arrived in the year—1931.
Sheikh Abdullah initially catered to the sentiments of majority community groaning under oppressive foreign rule. The majority community had suffered, while minorities had rulers to back them. The suppression was not on ethnic grounds, but the punishment was meted out for belonging to a particular religious stream. It could be made out that 1586 to 1750 A.D rulers were Mughals and from 1750 to 1819-- Afghans, who shared religion with majority community. However, when it came to doling out jobs and opportunities, Kashmir’s minority community prospered. It may not be held against them, in education the members of minority community were far ahead. They swiftly mastered Persian, the court language of rulers. Persian in fact continued to be court language of Sikh rule [1819-1846] and for a long time of Dogra rule [1846-1947]. As Urdu took over, the minority community with superior skills continued to prosper. No effort official or otherwise was initiated for mass education of majority community. Local efforts like setting up Islamia School in 1890 and Imamia in Zadibal in 1910, catered to the needs of limited number of people of majority community.
With mass rising of 1931, diversionary tactics were based on selling the ethnic card. Kashmiriyat went on sale in political market. Soon, it had buyers. The language of leadership changed. Suppression of autocracy was uniform affecting all communities that became the new idiom—the narratives changed. Coincidentally the leftist movement in Indian subcontinent started making inroads in Kashmir’s political bazaar. Wooing Kashmir’s tallest leader—Sheikh Abdullah…lion of yore was prioritized. Kashmir’s Reshi culture was propagated to be pre-Islamic, hence a part of political narrative. Somehow in this melee, in the mix-up, the original narrative of the movement, the narrative of majority community---of their interest, their concern was put on the back-burner, where it continues to simmer. Abdullah had to pay a heavy price, in 1953 when he looked around; the new path takers were no more lining behind him. From being the hero of leftist with his ‘Naya Kashmir’ charter, he was branded as an American agent. History, they say could be a cruel master. That remains a fact, unless an effort is made to maximize pros of yesteryears and minimize cons. The changed narratives of Kashmir might have done the exact opposite of that!

Yaar Zinda Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival]
(Feedback on: Iqbal.javid46@gmail.com)

Lastupdate on : Mon, 29 Oct 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 29 Oct 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 30 Oct 2012 00:00:00 IST




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