If the people of Kashmir have suffered during the last 60 years, it is not so much as a result of Delhi’s policy of “might-is-right” as pointed out recently by the long ailing General-Secretary of the National Conference, but in historical terms, more because of the dithering role of his party. Nazir’s latest publicity stunt in implicitly apportioning blame on Mirza Muhammad Afzal Beg for carrying on talks with G Parthasarthy and ultimately signing the Accord is the most ghastly example of an outrage committed on history by a gang of political eunuchs who have been (a party that is responsible) for much of the ills of Kashmiri society since 1975.
The Kashmir Accord, better known as Indira-Sheikh Accord, is yet another legacy of Sheikh Abdullah, besides other unfulfilled legacies: the ‘Naya Kashmir’ of his dreams and the struggle for the right of self-determination for the people of Jammu and Kashmir. While it is not the place to dilate upon social and political consequences of the unfulfilled legacies that Abdullah bequeathed to his nation (Kashmiri quoum), nonetheless, Indira-Sheikh Accord as the most unfulfilled legacy demands critical historical analysis in the context of Nazir’s advice to the critics of his patron to “read history.”
I had the fortune or misfortune of getting a printed copy of the Indira-Sheikh Accord a few days before the public gathering organized by the National Conference at Lal Chowk in 1975, thanks to Late Sheikh Muhammad Mansur. The latter who later was elected to the Assembly on NC’s ticket from Shopian had stored bundles of the printed copies of Accord in then Kashmir Guest House, the historic rendezvous of the NC and other political parties at Lal Chowk. The hotel was then owned by the Khan brothers of Magarmal Bagh including myself.
As a close eyewitness to the jubilations of the supporters of Sheikh Abdullah and the slogan mongering in praise of the ‘Lion of Kashmir’ assembled at Lal Chowk on the eve of Accord, I cannot forget a cruel joke cracked on the Kashmiris by Mirza Muhammad Afzal Beg. Close to him and Ghulam Muhammad Badarwahi on the dais was seated Muhammad Abdullah Khan, owner of Kashmir Guest House. He was most often invited by the Plebiscite Front to recite the Qur'an before the start of political proceedings at the public gatherings addressed by Abdullah. What was disturbing for my elder brother before he stood up to recite the Qur'an was the historical humour and political tragedy reflected in the remarks of Afzal Beg: “Today I expected people gathered here to hurl stones and shoes at us. Alas! They are greeting us. What for are the slogans of zindabad raised here? What have we done for our people? What have we gained? Oh God! Which nation are we leading?”
This essay is not so much prompted by the Beg’s political joke as by the latest, but the funniest joke, ever told by the National Conference about its petty politics based on demagogy. It is therefore appropriate to coin a new term for the contradictory role of the National Conference leadership. I may call it political eunuchism in that my characterization of the NC’s role is fully substantiated by Sheikh Nazir’s interview. Consider his remarks:
“Sheikh Sahib was not directly involved in the 1975 exercise. It was Mirza Muhammad Afzal Beg and G Parthasarthy who were talking to each other. Sheikh Sahib was always concerned over what had happened with him in 1953. We had not lost much till 1953 but after his arrest erosion of autonomy started.” Again:
“Before leveling allegations against Sheikh, people should read history and check the facts. The 1975 Accord doesn’t have the signature of Sheikh Sahib, neither was it tabled in the State legislature.”
Political eunuchism, of course, is a different subject with a different context in some scholarly works on the history of early Mamluk Syria and Egypt, or Persia, or even in the Chinese history. However, in the context of contemporary history of Kashmir, the term signifies ineffective, unstable and opportunist political leadership. In other words, political eunuch is the one who never stands his ground. Rather, he lacks virility or power, if not ability, to speak the truth.
There can be no greater lie than the one uttered by Mustafa Kamal to endorse the statement of Nazir: “He speaks truth. He knows the reason and meaning of even punctuation marks of all accord.” The historical fact is that the Indira-Sheikh Accord was signed by Beg under the political tutelage of Abdullah.
One of the greatest tragedies of Kashmir’s modern history was that Sheikh Abdullah was not only loved and respected, but more than that, feared by his comrades for the wrongs he continued to inflict on his quoum time and again. From a historical standpoint, Abdullah is responsible for three astonishing and horrifying tragedies that struck Kashmir in its modern history. First, he inherited the colonial legacy in the form of J&K state by becoming its Prime Minister following the abdication of political authority by Maharaja Hari Singh on the basis of the instrument of accession signed by the latter with Delhi. Second, Abdullah exploited both Kashmiris and Pakistan in the name of right of self-determination for nearly a quarter of the last century with the ultimate aim of grabbing the seat of Prime Minister for himself which he had lost as a result of the 1953 episode. Not surprisingly, however, lured by the greed of usurping political power, he was ultimately condemned to accept the position of Chief Minister, much to the consternation of his quoum. If his progeny continue to enjoy political power in the colonial state of the Maharajas or elsewhere, it is all due to Indira-Sheikh Accord. The illustrious Sheikh family of Kashmir should feel grateful to the Government of India for first making Maharaja Hari Singh to choose Sheikh Abdullah as his successor and then making Syed Mir Qasim to resign in order to facilitate transfer of power to the power hungry.
A feeble attempt at deluding the Kashmiris into believing that Sheikh Abdullah was not a signatory to the Indira-Sheikh Accord thus amounts not only to political eunuchism charactersing the politics of the National Conference, but more importantly, to its eternal ability to mislead ‘Kashmiri quoum’ which was, at least, assured izzat abru ka maqam through genuine constitutional struggle and sacrifice in the Accord itself.
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