Are you an Indian

“My friends tell me your father is a renegade, a killer, a criminal and an Indian. I will be spared of the humiliation if I change my parentage.”
Are you an Indian
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A video clip showing an angry Dr Farooq Abdullah hurling some indecent adjectives in Kashmiri on a television anchor is in circulation on social media. The clip is a morphed depiction of Dr Farooq's interview with Aaj Tak ( a Hindi news channel). The interview was held last year and won Farooq widespread acclaim for his response to a very `uncomfortable' question.

The question, and Dr Farooq's outburst over it, proved many a point. The anchor asked him whether he considered himself an Indian. While the question reflects a mindset, the anchor got the lesson of his life that evening; but will it change anything?

Before going into to details, it needs to be made clear that Dr Farooq is not the only person whose loyalty was questioned by the Indians. His father, Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah who is accused of gifting Kashmir to India was never accepted as an Indian. Editor Aftaab, Late Khwaja Sonaullah Bhat during an interaction with me said: "One day Sher-e-Kashmir called me to his residence. I went there and saw a intelligence (IB) sleuth. I informed Sher-e-Kashmir. He smiled but remained mum."

Bhat paused for a moment. Most probably he did not want to share the information with me. But when I insisted he said: "Later, Sheikh Sahib shocked me with his answer. He told me a number of IB people had been placed in my office and residence to keep a watch on my activities."

And, late Mufti Muhammad Sayed's position was no different. Like Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, Mufti was never trusted by the Indian state. In 1990 when he was the Home Minister of India, Kashmir affairs and Internal Security was not entrusted to him. George Fernandez looked after the Kashmir affairs and somebody else was in charge of internal security.  His (Mufti's) role was confined to effecting transfer and looking after the welfare of BSF and CRPF personnel.

Dr Farooq Abdullah swears by unity and integrity of India. When he was the Chief Minister, he would fire a paper missile daily on Pakistan for `sponsoring acts of terrorism against his country' and demand military action for freeing Pakistan administered Kashmir.

But last year when he urged the government of India to talk to Hurriyat leaders, he suddenly became a `separatist' for Indians. He was ridiculed for issuing what people in India called a pro-Hurriyat statement. For them, National Conference remains a separatist organisation.

While this can be a compliment for National Conference in contemporary Kashmir, it reflects a harsh reality. A Kashmiri Muslim, according to people like the anchor who enraged Dr Farooq cannot be a true Indian. However, the people of India must know that such people in Kashmir (who owe allegiance to India) have to pay a price for their `love' for India.

Militant turned legislator turned journalist, Javed Shah earned widespread ridicule when he shifted loyalties. Fellow MLC and former militant commander, Firdous Sayed alias Baber Badr during an interview with the author talked about "the cost his colleague had to pay for being an Indian."

He said: "One day I came out of the house (assembly hall) to smoke. Javed was already in the lobby having a fag. He shouted at me. I did not like his attitude. He was not behaving like a legislator. Anyways, I responded to his call and went to him. He looked very gloomy. I sat beside him. He poured out his heart. What he said turned me almost numb." 

Javed told him: "After coming from school yesterday, my son talked to me. He was very serious and had the most uncomfortable conversation with me that evening." Firdous paused for a moment. He was narrating an incident which changed his thinking and the course of his life. According to him, Javed's son posed a very difficult and shocking question to him. "Dad, will you mind if I change my parentage in the school records?"

The question was sudden and direct. Javed could not utter a word for a moment. With great difficulty, he pulled himself together and managed a `why'. The answer was as shocking as the question. "My friends tell me your father is a renegade, a killer, a criminal and an Indian. I will be spared of the humiliation if I change my parentage."

Javed had no answer. He could not sleep that night and was now lightening his burden in the lobby of the legislative assembly. Fortunately he found a patient listener in Firdous Sayed.

"We are offering a huge sacrifice by being on this side of the fence. Will the Indians acknowledge this ever?" he asked. Baber was lost in thoughts.  He never forgot the encounter.

Dr Farooq deserves kudos for giving a befitting reply to the anchor for asking an `uncomfortable' question. Dr Farooq told him that he and people like him were suffering from mental ailment. Farooq's outburst silenced the audience that had cheered the anchor for posing the `difficult' question to him. But then only Dr Farooq can afford such a reaction. The lesser mortals would have been booked under draconian laws for such an act of `bravery'.

din.zahir@gmail.com

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