Jungle-book Kashmir

Greater Kashmir

This is in response to Mehmood ur Rashid’s article (Dis) contents of a (non) conversation, GK September 27, 2020. It is a reality check on the clutter Kashmir’s politics is now beset with, and finally towards the end it is concluded in suggestions which are poetically covered by ambiguity. The clutter is almost bordering on insanity or anarchy itself. Digging the past of the K conflict it is now in since long is of no avail. “What has happened has happened.” What is presently happening is beyond our power and position to change. Accordingly our future is not in our hands to shape. Calling a spade a spade Mehmood observes: “the future of Kashmir is taking in refuge, its inhabitants as atomised individuals, in the political cantonment set up by the BJP, after reorganizing the territory, and reformulating the mechanics of control. “Simply it means no future for Kashmir based electoral parties”. Point of order, Dear Sir. Kashmir’s electoral parties have always a future. Let New Delhi announce election in the UTJK (What a flowable abbreviation!)  These electoral parties will jump into it, ready to sign on the dotted line, to grab a chunk of power and pelf. That is what they have been after ever since the fate of Kashmir was sealed. We have been ruled by vested interest throughout and it will again come to the fore through a well-orchestrated election. The power hungry vested interest has always a future even if Kashmir is ruled by China. What happens to people is a different ballgame. We have all along been taken for granted. Treated as a multitude of nobodies as in George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’. We have been thought of as a ductile mass easily yielding to submissiveness simply by putting into our kitty our material needs. Maneuverability of Kashmir’s political class has always been possible by New Delhi, given its tendency to use politics for personal ends. It doesn’t matter what kind of nominal rulership is available to it now, reduced to a bare minimum. All what matters is power, however, little it may be as long as it is conducive to making a fortune. Corruption now being tolerated and accepted as a universal norm. Our political class was, right from the time when it was expected to lead us aright, at the time of that defining moment was lost, confused and absolutely devoid of vision. Even so that emergent political  class was of some capability to rule while dealing hard with New Delhi; commanding to some extent faith and respect from the people. As years rolled by in our relationship with New Delhi, this political class, the old guard having gone to the hereafter, went on becoming pigmy-size. Karam Dins dancing to the tune of New Delhi with a single motive of self-interest making hills of wealth thorough corrupt practices. Breeding degradation of character. Values totally lost sight of. Instead we had corruption and unethical behavior as our accepted social norms. In this regard read poet Rehman Rahi’s poem “Mafi Nama”. It is relevant to our condition even now.

In the maneuvering of our relationship with New Delhi on part of our unethical political class Kashmir saw rigged elections, one after another. Who does not know that “Arms and Kashmir” phase of the history of Kashmir was born from the cauldron of Kashmir’s electoral process in 1987? It was brazenly rigged election in which people had participated. With nod from New Delhi to favor a particular political class. New Delhi always had a myopic vision on Kashmir. It is now of domination for a concealed purpose but clearly visible. Democracy had a different meaning on our side of the Pir’s mountains. It is still the same, rather worst. Kill it to bury dissent deep under the earth. Democracy has been throwing up scoundrels to rule us. While in India democracy is now characterised by demagoguery, here in Kashmir, whatever its fake form, it was finally murdered on August 05, 2020. It was the logical end-state of obsoleteness of our all political class. Rendered useless it was ditched lock, stock and barrel. It was bound to happen someday given our collective stupidity in comparison to skillful politicking of Machiavelies of New Delhi. It was falsehood traded by either side but of the latter outmaneuvering the former.

For our self-seeking, self-styled leaders one of our fiction writers namely Gulshan Majeed has coined an appropriate metaphor. One of his Kasmiri short stories is titled “A journey under the guidance of a mangy dog.” (Khashar leud hoon sundis ardalas manz akh safar). The symbolism in this story is the real and true account of our political class. It is a horde, a Jamath, starting a journey to its destination under the surveillance of a mangy dog. The dog is silent but barking occasionally as the guidance demands to issue signs to the horde to feel and follow. There is a dervish, the main speaker, who persuades the horde to follow the dog, and five other characters symbolizing our political pigmies. Bracing the dangerous journey through the forest and mountain, the dog finds itself in a big ‘maidan’ where from no one knows where to go, the destination being nowhere in sight. The horde around the mangy dog is crestfallen. The dervish then issues the final commandment that as nothing is clear from now on everyone is free to go whichever way he likes to. Let us leave the dog here to take its own way. Poet Amin Kamil had said it half a century ago: closed in an envelope stamped, (we are) a letter to no address in the post office.

What is the political scenario prevailing right now? Everything came under an iron curtain after August 05, 2020. The process is both a short term and a long term. Kashmir’s identity, its demographic character vis-a-vis domestic certificate, cultural and educational intervention by making Hindi, Dogri, Kashmiri the official UT languages  alongside Urdu and English. Out of five languages which one is intended to be promoted at the cost of a particular language is clearly written on the wall. They say a small number of Kashmiris speak Urdu. Or in other words they must learn Hindi to replace Urdu. One culture, one language, one nation ideology of the BJP. The fact is a large number of Kashmiris speak and understand Urdu. Even in remote villages of Kashmir Urdu and English newspapers published from Srinagar are read. There is a quite large number of educated Kashmiri youth unemployed who are conversant with both Urdu and English.

Kashmir’s social, political and cultural identity is at stake involving both Muslims and Kashmiri pandits. Kashmiri pandits are a class apart from the Hindus of India despite their political affinity towards India. Kashmiri shavism is deeply philosophical, aesthetic and sufistic in essence compared to cultic Hinduism of India.

Kashmiri language, its accent, intonation, words and phrases, is most beautiful at the tongues of Kashmiri pandits. Kashmir needs to be saved from extinction. Kashmir of Kashyp Rishi, Kalhan, Abinougupt, Lal, Shikeh Noor Din, Badshah, Mahjoor and Dina Nath Nadim needs to be saved; but a well-meaning political class is the must to realize the immediate objective, the conversation for the short term objectives as they need to be addressed  right now. We need to talk as one to New Delhi. We need a young leader, sincere and intelligent to lead us through this crucial stage of our history. We need to change. Are we waiting for the Godot?