Can a Kashmiri Muslim be a true Indian? The question was raised for the first time during 2010 uprising by an Indian friend. This time, however, it was raised during a discussion in a saloon in my locality. The discussion finally reached a consensus. "No, a Kashmiri Muslim cannot be a true Indian," they concluded. This is not totally unfounded. The bitter experiences of Sheikh Muhammed Abdullah, Mufti Muhammad Sayed and many others, supplement it. However, there are some who see a better option in India, but history belies their claims.
The Indians did not even trust Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah who played a vital role for India in the fateful days of 1947. But in five years he realised his mistake and sought an independent state. The story did not end with his arrest on August 9, 1953. He was released in 1957 but implicated in a fabricated Hazratbal Consipracy Case, and in a few days he was back in prison. In 1964 he went to Pakistan as an emissary of India. But some months later when he was returning from Hajj, he was again arrested. In 1975 he assumed power with Congress support but as expected the support was withdrawn.
Dr Farooq Abdullah swears by unity and integrity of India. While in power he used to fire paper missiles towards Pakistan for sponsoring acts of terrorism in `his' country. But during PDP rule while addressing the media at Jammu after a book release in November 2007, he lashed out at the army for "violating rights of the people". He said: "We have no option but to reconsider our decision on accession." But, when National Conference assumed power once again in 2008, Kashmir again became an integral part of India for him. Omar Abdullah challenged the totality of accession and described Jammu Kashmir an international dispute while addressing the legislative assembly in October 2010.
And late Mufti Sayed was no different. Like Sher-e-Kashmir, 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. In 2002, after becoming the Chief Minister of the state, he came out with his Self Rule formula thus challenging the status quo.
Militant turned Ikhwani 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. Any ways, 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.
My friend from West Bengal, Ram Rattan Chatterjee silenced my colleague in Greater Kashmir office around eight years ago. My colleague, who then believed India was a good option was stunned when he, during a discussion with Chatterjee, tried to defend India. "You are Indian by chance and I am an Indian by birth. I know India better than anybody else in this room," he said. Kashmir's `courtship' with India has been a `marriage of inconvenience'. It is a story of broken promises, shattered hopes, betrayals, fraud, deceit, killings and atrocities. Not only students, all Kashmiris are beaten and even killed in Indian cities. The leaders are roughed up and abused. They are held for sedition for liking a comment on the Face book. And, then they talk of winning the hearts of `alienated' Kashmiris.
The past forty-five days have once again proved it that there is nobody left in Kashmir to be won over by New Delhi. Yes, there are some persons who still want to play the typical hypocrite. Polished Kashmiris call them crisis managers for India and the former RAW chief, Mr Dulat calls them "Indian stooges." The above lines must serve as an eye opener to all those who consider themselves more Indian than the Indians.