A group of our scholars, writers and historians expressed their deep concern about the academic inertia that has beset most of the universities. For having authored many books on history, literature and contemporary politics some of them are recognized as credible voices of the state. The concern was expressed more than a decade back at a seminar organised in connection with the importance of 13 July 1931 in the history of Jammu and Kashmir.
'The role of literature in the struggle for ending feudal autocracy in the state', was topic to deliberate upon by this motley gathering of the intelligentsia. A state government department connected with protecting and promoting the historical and literary legacies of the land and translating these legacies in modern languages had arranged the meet. Instead, of keeping the younger generation abreast with the past of the nation- with all its triumphs and tragedies, history of the state was made a causality was the lament at the seminar. It suffered on two counts: one, during the feudal rule it was subjected to distortions and hagiography, and after 1947 glorifying one person, one party became the thumb rule, and two, after 1975, history, as well as the geography of Jammu and Kashmir, was removed from the school syllabi.
For this tutored myopic policy adopted by the state, many generations have been denied even basic knowledge of history and geography of the state. The level of ignorance of the history and culture Jammu and Kashmir has sunk to such a degree that even scholars on our campuses present a dismal picture of their knowledge about history and culture of the state. Subjects like history and geography of the state in schools from early classes had not been introduced in the past for the heck of it. In a state as diverse as Jammu and Kashmir, these subjects helped in creating a sense of belonging in the citizen and worked as sinews for strengthening the integrations of the state. And it was for this shared history that people belonging to different regions and races from Skardu to Srinagar, Baltistan to Billawar and Jammu to Muzaffarabad in 1931, with one voice, had started the struggle for justice, fair play, equality and democracy.
The lament in the presentations made by these scholars was not without reason, as someone has said it and said rightly, 'those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.' Had we as people learned a lesson from our history and remembered the 'error of judgment' of our elite in the late sixteenth century or the blunder committed out of greed by Birbal Dhar in the early nineteenth century- who later met his nemesis perhaps the 1947 political faux pas could have been prevented. Instead of creating Chairs or building institution for conducting systematic research on the history of the state and correcting the bigoted versions, the state chose to close down old institutions like the translation bureau. The translation bureau by rendering great Persian, Arabic and Sanskrit works into modern languages besides facilitating the scholars was doing yeoman service in enriching the history of the state. 'A History of the Sikh Rule in Kashmir 1819 -1846' is the only government-sponsored research work worth salt one can think of that after 1947 in the state. The research work started by Dr R.K. Parmu and his dedicated team including Dr Abdul Ahad had almost taken ten years to complete. The struggle of people of the state for their rights dates back to 1846; it started before India's rebellion of 1857. Nonetheless, the state has not started any project for documenting this struggle as had been initiated by the Government of India funded by the Indian Council for Social Sciences Research.
The three-day seminar concluded with the adoption of a resolution calling upon the Kashmir University for establishing a chair in the department of history in the name of the historian of the land Mohammad Din Fauq. The broad objective conceived for the chair was facilitating conducting of all-embracing research on history and culture of the state. A memorandum accordingly drafted and presented to the Vice Chancellor of Kashmir University. It will be difficult to say if it was placed before the chancellor or not, but it can be said boldly, for over a year there was no response from the university. The then Vice-Chancellor, more than a year later had a queer answer; the Chancellor did not agree to create a Chair in the name of Fauq because his grave is in Lahore- an enemy country. Discussing this bluff of an answer would be wasting time and energy. Some years later, a group of civil society once again took up the demand with the University for instituting a Chair in the history department in the name of Mohammad Din Fauq, one of the pioneering historian on Kashmir – of course, a Kashmiri.
The question, why a chair in the name of Fauq, – a man born in Sialkot and buried in Lahore, perhaps a ticklish question that might have made university authorities to trashcan the memorandum signed by historians and scholars of Kashmir- three of them Prof. Fida Mohammad Hassnain, Prof. Prem Singh and Ghulam Nabi Gowhar have departed from this world. Like Dr Mohammad Iqbal, poet of the East, the ancestors of Mohammad Din Fauq, were from Kashmir and with thousands other had migrated into Punjab in the early nineteenth century. Fauq's ancestors had migrated from Sopore to Sialkot. 'Mr. Akeel Hamadani traces his ancestry to Dar family of Soebug, Budgam.'
The story of Fauq like Dr Iqbal runs parallel to the struggle of Kashmir Freedom Struggle. Iqbal, through his moving poetry, made the plight of the land of his ancestors known to the world outside so did Mohammad Din Fauq. His journalistic contributions are a golden chapter of the history of journalism that has been thoroughly documented. To quote Saraf, "Fauq had dedicated his life to the cause of uplift of his fellow Kashmiris".
But, it is his unmatched contribution to the history of Jammu and Kashmir- that qualifies to name a chair in his name in the department of history. Professor. Rattan Lal Hangloo, Vice-Chancellor of Allahabad, a historian in his own right tells us that "Fauq has written 112 books on different subjects". Of course most of them on the Kashmir. Shab-e-Kashmir, Tareekh- e- Aqwaam e Kashmir, Tareekh –e- Aqwaam e Poonch, Tareekh- e Aqwaam- e –Jammu and Mukammal Tareekh- e- Kashmir are some of his magnum opuses.
Chairs like one Mohammad Din Fauq in the Universities can end academic inertia that has beset our campuses.