Rereading Bazaz

Greater Kashmir

Had Nehru listened to the saner voices, Kashmir case would have been different

The whole truth about 1947 happenings and after in Kashmir is still to be told.  On the Kashmir Freedom Struggle and the Kashmir Dispute, a plethora of books has been written by those who have been witness to the whole saga and some eminent historians of international repute.   Some, like the History of Struggle for Freedom of Kashmir by Prem Nath Bazaz and Kashmir Fight for Freedom by M. Y. Saraf, Danger in Kashmir by Josef Korbel,   Kashmir Disputed Legacy, the Incomplete Partition by Alistair Lamb, Kashmir – the Unwritten Story by Snedden are a magnum opus.  These classical works and lots of other works in Urdu do tell us in detail about to the struggle against the autocratic rule and provide us insight into the genesis of the Kashmir Dispute. Nonetheless, lots of stories that could explain how and why we came to such an impasse; where our culture, identity, and existence is threatened were buried under the hegemonic discourses of the 1950s.   

In the bizarre scenario of the fifties, when   the voices of dissent were strangulated to the last breath, Prem Nath Bazaz besides writing some major works such his book struggle for freedom on Kashmir and thought provoking book “Azad Kashmir” wrote a series of booklets and pamphlets in English and Urdu. Mostly, it is his mainstream books like ‘Inside Kashmir’ and books mentioned above that have remained under focus and have been profusely quoted by writers and scholars. The booklets and pamphlets that he wrote and published during his days in exile in New Delhi have largely not reached to the public the state. In those days of worst kind of censorship, when one could not even tune in Radio Pakistan or Azad Kashmir  Radio on the radio sets   smuggling Bazaz’s works or literature of dissent, protest or resistance in the state was almost impossible. Those found guilty of being in possession of any the protest and the resistance literature were thrashed publicly and even imprisoned. 

The author explaining objective behind the publishing of these pamphlets, in the introduction of a compilation of a bunch of pamphlets titled, “Does India Defend Freedom or Fascism in Kashmir” published in 1952,  he writes, “so that all those outsiders who want to know the truth about the conditions inside Kashmir may get an objective picture of the State’s affairs it has been decided to publish some booklets on topics of vital importance.” Ostensibly, it seems that booklets exude with a lot of hate and venom against   Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and Jawaharlal Nehru, one,  his onetime compatriot and second, his one-time ideal and ideologue.  Nonetheless, these are a subtle analysisis of the faux pas’ that have contributed to the messy situation that the state is caught up in for past sixty-seven years. Bazaz very candidly tells stories about the suppression of the civil liberates and Nehru is subtly concurring acts of intimidation and terror in the State. He calls the state Constituent Assembly that later on “ratified accession of the state as “farce.” Comparing it to the Praja Sabha of the Maharaja the he writes that it had more representative for representing different voice than the Constituent Assembly that was conjured by ‘capturing of all seats unopposed.’ 

In the pamphlet titled ‘Secularism in Kashmir’ deconstructs rather demolishes the much-orchestrated narrative that people of Jammu and Kashmir have rejected Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s two-nation theory. From rooftops, Nehru in fifties used to cry about it. Rejecting this conjecture Pandit Prem Nath Bazaz writes that Nehru has been making these statements on the assumption that the National Conference was only people’s representative and all other parties had no substantial following. Questioning Nehru’s assumption he writes, “The people of Jammu and Kashmir were never afforded the opportunity to pronounce   their verdict on the two-nation theory democratically.” Making a subtle comment on Nehru’s presumption that people of Kashmir had rejected the two-nation theory’ Bazaz sarcastically says that after agreeing to partition and ‘his defeat, however unabashed, he turned his face towards Kashmir and began to claim with the left hand what he had given up with the right hand.’ 

Seeing the ‘non-resolution of the Kashmir dispute responsible for keeping ‘communal consciousness of  Muslims alive in Pakistan and holding Congress answerable for progressive forces in the neighbouring country failing to make headway Bazaz   sixty-three back in another pamphlet advocates for resolution of the dispute for peace in the region.  In a pamphlet titled the Resolutions in 1953 he is prophetic in stating “those who are causing the delay in the final settlement in any manner are only paving the way for extremists and irresponsible elements in all the classes in all parts of the state to come to the forefront and lead the exasperated.” In another pamphlet where he is deeply aggrieved about the future of his community    very subtly that their fate is dovetailed to the resolution of Kashmir Dispute. He asks them ‘it is time that they grasp the grim reality that if dispute is not settled amicably and peacefully between India and Pakistan, the internal conditions in Kashmir will in no way improve; indeed they will deteriorate ….which may jeopardise the life of the community.’ He also blames Nehru for widening the gulf between Dogras and Muslims of Jammu and growth Praja Parishad in Jammu and consequences thereof.  

Had Nehru listened to the saner voices, not indulged in machinations and discouraged parties from raising the irrelevant question from time to time as   pointed out by Bazaz, “Kashmir Dispute could have been promptly settled by unconditionally recognizing the sovereignty of the State’s people and their inalienable right of self-determination without any outside interference whatsoever.”  In this series of booklets and pamphlets on a variety of subjects including regional and minority issues of the state first Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru emerges as the man responsible for sufferings of people of the State.