The Others” Narratives

I, for one, see even the autobiographies of pro-India politicians like Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, Dr Karan Singh, and Syed Mir Qasim, etc despite all their distortions and prejudices important for telling the whole Kashmir story.
File Photo
File Photo

Some twelve years back, Farooq Abdullah, senior scion of the Abdullah family told me   he was writing a book that will tell many inside stories, never told before. The information as a student of contemporary Kashmir politics came to me as good tidings. My belief has been that  the stories of politicians, who are on the other side of the fence or are  tethered to the 'hegemonic politics' in the state, in  a situation like   ours not only help in deconstructing the "dominant discourse"  but  also work as catalysts for strngthening  the popular resistance narrative. 

 In summer 2006, I visited Dr. Abdullah for a detailed interview. It was one of the longish interviews, mostly on the record and some off the record. 'In 1947, when sorties after sorties of  Indian troops had landed in Kashmir,  the eldest Abdullah scion, then ten years old  had accompanied his father to receive men in olive green at the Srinagar aerodrome. On seeing Sikh soldiers with huge iron rings adorning their turbans, tall as poplars disembarking  from the aeroplanes he had shuddered and  told his father they have come to kill us. Sheikh sahib with a pat on his back had told him, no, no, they have come to save and protect us.' This may be a small incident, yet it makes a huge statement about the impact of  the landing of troops and footprints of soldiers  on the psyche of Kashmiri  children'. Even, in single liners like this  in the works   of 'the others' as one would prefer to call politicians whose political outlooks and doings are not in sync with the overwhelming political sentiments in the state  are leads for scholars for disengaging truth from the falsehood,  deliberately mixed up for strengthening the 'the State  discourse.'

I, for one, see even the autobiographies of pro-India politicians like Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, Dr. Karan Singh, and Syed Mir Qasim, etc despite  all their distortions and prejudices important for telling the whole Kashmir story. For instance, on the landing of Indian troops, Syed Mir Qasim writes, "These full blooded young men were burning with passion for avenging the massacre of their dear ones in what then had become Pakistan. As they landed at the airport some of them killed a few Muslims." 'The general masses were so much infuriated that no Kashmiri leader including Sheikh Abdullah, could possibly  stem the uprising.' ' On the question of plebiscite, he also very candidly exposes New Delhi double standards, 'On the one side B.N. Rau, India's representative to the United Nations Security Council assured the Council about India's commitment to the plebiscite in the state. Moreover, informed the United Nations, that Indian Government was not bound to accept the decision of the  Kashmir Constituent Assembly on accession. This assurance was repeated by Rajashwar Dayal, then another important Indian diplomat, but in Kashmir, Gopalaswami Ayyangar wanted to see the accession ratified. In 1953, he camped in Srinagar, and advised Sheikh Abdullah to pass the accession resolution.' It also tells, a story about Jammat-I-Islamia, that other wise perhaps would not be known. Mir Qasim suggested  Indira Gandhi ban the Jamat in Kashmir, Indira Gandhi turned down the proposition because then she would be obliged to ban RSS in India, which she could not afford'. In fact, it is such hints weaved in long texts, that makes the works of 'the others' a distinct genera.   

Farooq Abdullah so far has not published his book, that promised of telling the inside stories about New Delhi dubious role in Kashmir- perhaps after 2008 Assembly elections, expediency took him over, and he  dropped the idea. Nevertheless, one of his former important party man, who represented the National Conference in the Indian Parliament for quite a long time recently came up with a  book, ' Kashmir Glimpses of History and the Story  of Struggle.'  The 236 page hardbound book, with a beautiful dust cover, and nice oil paintings by Masood Hussain, published by Rupa Publishing India is a blend of  the past history and the  contemporary politics in the State.   The book  is priced at Rs. 595. 

The author,  unlike many Indian politicians, who in line with the South Blocks style book prefer to call Kashmir, an issue or a problem, Soz boldly calls it a Dispute that needs to be resolved through a dialogue with three main stakeholders – the people of Jammu and Kashmir, India, and Pakistan In fact, this take of the author is in sync with the stand of the Hurriyat Conference. He also suggests to Union of India to see reason and realize that it had gone wrong in Constitutional relations with Jammu and Kashmir.' 

On the social media, some friends  discarded the book as trash. True, it is not as revealing a book  as  expected from a man who has been in the thick of New Delhi's politics as a Union Minister and Member of Parliament for four decades and could have the opportunity of gaining access to classified archives in New Delhi. Nevertheless,  it cannot be dismissed as unworthy of reading. For more than one reason, the book is another important addition to the bibliography of Kashmir. The author has culled out information from extant works on Kashmir and pieced them together in lucid prose to tell the story of Kashmir's glorious and poignant past. From, chapter 28, titled the 'Fights Against the  Dogra Aristocracy' to chapter 33, 'the Way Forward'  the author leaves a lot to be contested and disputed, in more than one chapter in building an argument he has depended on works of one or two authors. For instance, in chapter 29  he quotes Ajit Bhattacharjea, so profusely and  it looks as if one was reading his book 'Kashmir: The Wounded Valley' published in 1994. In the same chapter, he extols Sheikh Abdullah on the basis of Abdullah's take on his role in the UNSC without going through the works of other members of the delegation, who had denounced him as disaster, who had earned the title of 'quisling' on the floor.  It seems that the author has purposely avoided writing on the controversaries surrounding the "Instrument of Accession"- fact, and date of which has been questioned by many important historians. Notwithstanding, the constraints of the politician of his tribe, the chapter, 'Armed Militancy And Its Aftermath' comparatively is good  reading. In this chapter, he very subtly makes a case for removing of  the AFSPA, that he calls a draconian law. 

Despite, raising many controversial points that could fail on the litmus test of history, the author very rightly in the last chapter writes that the revocation article 35-A is a threat to Kashmir's very existence, which Kashmiri can never accept, in any circumstances. 

The book is another addition to the Kashmir narrative. 

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