The beleaguered past
Since mid 16th century the Vale of Kashmir remained open to Economic and Cultural influence from its Neighborhood in Central Asia and Indian Subcontinent. The Mughals had their own version of Feudal System and War Policy (not withstanding Hindu, Buddhist, Revivalist Hindu and Muslim periods before that). With gradual decline of Delhi-based Mughal Empire and rise of Kabul Regime, Kashmir slipped into a different era. Historians have labeled later period of Mughal Governors and all of Pathan rule as dark chapter in History of Kashmir. More misery befell when Kashmir witnessed an Armed invasion by Lahore Kingdom under Maharaja Ranjit Singh(19th Century). The 'Sikh Rule' lasted only a few decades. Fall of Lahore Kingdom to English was probably the Big Bang and Punjabi domination that had left some indelible marks on Socio –economic, Political and Cultural ethos of Kashmir vanished into thin air. English Rulers, due to some strategic reasons, were unwilling to govern Kashmir directly. Moreover, Kashmir, primarily, had ceased to be a war like nation ( gradually since late 16th century). No Martial leader was available to English for any worthwhile alliance. Bhombas and Khokas would be a spent force (unorganised Recalcitrant war like people). An ally from Kashmir, therefore, was not an option for English strategists. So they found an ideal ally in erstwhile Ist Maharaja of J&K – the then Raja Ghulab Singh who apart from being Martial had proved to be a trusted ally of English in Lahore campaign!! This culminated into the historical event resulting in a blue print for a unique new state J&K.
J&K – Creation of Destiny.
Thus commenced in mid 19th century, Integration of Jammu regions' small time feudatories with Kashmir Valley, indicated in Agreement-Sale Deeds, not by Latitudes and longitudes but territories within the great river courses . The para-mountntcy of English India was to continue . Strategic campaign of Ladakh was accomplished sending shrill echoes to Russian Tsar!! Warrior Zorawar Singh's death in battle field brought the campaign to a halt and Tibet remained untouched!! The English had their cup of tea to their liking, hardly foreseeing that newly carved out State would throw up new challenges before the world. And the citizenry of this multi cultural, multilingual and multi regional princely state would get stuck up in time zone !? Harsh and ruthless Governance at the hands of Later Mughal, Pathan, Sikh and Dogra Rulers for over 300 years had a catastrophic effect on the Psyche of Kashmiri people which is bound to unleash itself in different manifestations for a long time to come! Imagine the scenario, when in 1947 English transferred power to two Dominions, instead of one, thereafter pushing J&K into a dilemma. Mr Radcliffe had the mandate to draw the 'Radcliffe- line' through the bosom of Indian subcontinent , but just short of J&K .This 'Princely State' with fair amount of Internal Autonomy was reason enough for English to respect its semi- independence . For J&K it was status quo.
The Contemporary Crisis
The conglomerate of three distinct and diverse Cultural, Religious and ethnic regions identify J&K , for over 170 years now. Destiny has brought us together and it is the duty of all citizens to enter into dialogue for finding a common ground for taking this state out of morass through 21st century. It is imperative that our diverse cultures, distinct variation in political thought, deep rooted histories and our peculiar lifestyles might have a tendency to pull us apart. But this should not be allowed to pulverize into hatred, abhorrence and vengeance. Nobody can erase the historic events. The memories do remain and haunt. But still finding common ground for life to go, a lot of work remains to be done. Aristocratic rule was suffocating. Yet in reality it is gone. In the democratic set up, deceit and dictatorial dread cannot convince the rising masses to accept hegemony as their destiny. No longer now. People's desire to catch up with the contemporary world need not be construed as their weakness. Involved in the race are the people -the masses – who want to shape their destiny in this age of 'Economic emancipation' and 'Religious Identity' but not as Political have-nots.
Dumping the Socio-Political Aspirations of citizenry is no option. The political and economic aspirations always go hand in hand. Each complements the other. The pursuit of economic amelioration must rest on a strong foundation of 'Political Comfort'. Myopic theories and practices will not lead us to our cherished goal. But magnanimity, far sighted approach and prudence can . This needs reconciliation on multiple planes which is a yeoman's task. But it can be possible only when these multiple planes of our Socio-political complexities are debated and understood in a context devoid of deceit, falsehood and intrigue. We must now think a century ahead and think transparently. The regional, cultural and economic exploitation should not be resorted to. Polarization of people through deceitful Political thought, oppressive policies and myopic vengeance is no solution. Communal Politics in its negative avatar will not lead to a solution as well. Instead religious beliefs need to be revered and respected. But simultaneously 'unifying parameters' between religious and ethnic entities to generate goodwill based on selfless initiatives is need of the hour. These need to be highlighted, debated and understood in right perspective .
To sum up, the establishment versus anti-establishment battles cannot culminate into a solution. The solution will come up when masses integrate and interact on long term basis to generate 'Intrinsic Agreement' for resolving the core issues. Discovering the common ground between the masses is inevitable. Thereafter, crystal cut solutions will begin to appear and address the contemporary crisis in our 170 year old 'Socio-political and religio-cultural unending sojourn'. This will mature into a full blown solution that satisfies the 'Aspirations of all citizens of J&K' . Therefore, a fresh approach for convergent 'Political Thought' seems inevitable for the citizens of the state for a long lasting solution to the Contemporary Issues that will create the Bridge of Reconciliation between bigger powers that be.