Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Happenings of 1951 as recalled by a Kashmiri Goat




Here's an interesting image from LIFE magazine  photo archive.
According to the caption:
Taken in Kashmir on December 1951 by photographer Howard Sochurek.

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Somewhere in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, on a pleasantly warm and sunny December morning, while standing on a single wooden peg dug deep into the dusty soft ground, in total control of his four limbs and a head and a tail too, listening to the soul-stirring music emanating from the distant bagpipes of mighty military men, the Goat was deep in thought, contemplating the happenings of the year that was about to end. The happenings delighted him to no end.

"1951 turned out to be interesting...quite interesting, not too bad! ," he thought and then in no particular sequence - in a very stream of consciousness manner - recalled some of the interesting News concerning the State that had reached his pair of attentive ears that year.

Tribal of Waziristan pledged to defend Pakistan. Good for them. Afridis pledged not to take part in any Jehad...if even there is need for one in Kashmir. What is Jehad? Is it good for the goats? They make it sound like some old form of warfare? Do they play bagpipes while fighting?  Do I get to listen to music all day? May be I will take part in it. Everyone is already taking sides. Sheikh Abdullah pledged support to Pakhtoons in their common struggle against Pakistan. Very smart Sheikh Sahib, very smart. I like Sheikh Sahib, I really do. Too bad for me, my misfortune that he is likely to jump his gun if he even as much overhears the word "Bakra'. I am too ashamed of the fact that supporters of Sheikh Sahib call his enemies, those Jamaatis - Bakras. What can I say, these nasty people do go around carrying a beard like me. If you see one, and find yourself in doubt, try this sure short way to tell if he is a real bakra or not: Request him to bleat. And a real bakra will bleat better than a goat. And you will know that you are not supposed to eat him - Can't Halaal or Jatka this bakra. But the lion is really keeping them busy these days, pardon my expression, but he is really milking those goats. I like Sheikh Sahib, he really is a lion, and I am not even supposed to like a lion, me being a goat and he being a lion, one can say it's against nature. But in this State anything is possible, I have heard that an ancestor of the erstwhile Maharaja of the state, the one who was caught in a Paris hotel in bed with a gori mem ....BBBLLEEEAAAATTTTTT... once saw a goat and a lion drinking water from the same place together. What can I say? Jammu is a dry, dry place...can happen in majboori of summers. The current Yuvraj Prince is surprisingly a humble fellow! Almost too happy to loose the Crown. Siyapa Mukla for him ji. Yet somehow The Praja Parishad people there are always bleating (but no one dare call them bakras). I don't think they are too glad about the end of Dogra rule. Now they don't even want to be part of State election (no way can they win the entire State anyway. They don't have my vote!). They also want India to come to Kashmir completely, full-time, nothing doing. Does that mean more Army and more music for me? I support that. And then there is this guy, a balding Bengali, who keeps telling Panditji to get back his one third of Kashmir from Pakistan. Panditji, a smart fellow (some say mistakenly think it's in his genes...I suspect its the High company he keep), tells him basically something like this, "Hey Man! You have no idea how we are holding on to the rest of this land. What will you do with the rest?" I think this Bengali chap is not very happy with the situation, I think he is taking it all very personally. He needs to relax, slowdown and may be come down here and see the situation for himself. Enjoy some Kashmiri hospitality. If nothing else, this place will at least do his health some good. He may even find Swarag here. But it must be that the news from Jammu worried him. There were some tribal raids in some part of Jammu and some part of Kashmir. India lodged protest in Security Council. Hindu and Sikh refugees from Muzaffarabad are being settled in the State. Panditji is worried about Kazak influx into Kashmir. What the hell do Kazaks want with Kashmir? Panditji took certain steps to take care of it. Even opened a school for them. Good. Shiekh Sabib also helped.  East Pakistanis pledged support to Kashmiris. Syrians and Malaysian also want resolution of Kashmir (read: better if it's with Pakistan). Kashmiri Pandits - quite a tribe I tell you - pledged support to National Conference of Sheikh Sahib. Panditji, also one among that esteemed tribe, was very happy and congratulated them. Pakistan called Kashmir elections a fraud. They also believe India wants to stop the great rivers of the State. Reminds me...these military men always make me take dump near the river. I think it's deliberate. I need to protest. It's a clear provocation. Liaquat Ali, their PM, told Kashmiris, 'Wait, we will free you!'  Sheikh Sahib told him that Kashmir was Baap ki jagir of forty Lakh Kashmiri Muslims. Poor Mr. Liaquat died the same year of an unknown assassin's bullet. What a waste! Earlier this year he had also offered a five-point peace plan and asked Pandit Nehru to come down to Karachi for discussion. Fatima Jinnah told Kashmiris to fulfill her great brother's last wish and join Pakistan. Achha ji, you get your 'K' and what do we get! "A moth-ridden Pakistan" - isn't that what her Craven A smoking illustrious genius brother called Pakistan. I am a goat. I need grass. Moths can't be good for me.  Do they really have that much moth? Why don't they do something about it? There was also a strange report that Pakistanis want to kidnap Sheikh Abdullah and take him to the other side of the LOC. Of course, they denied these reports later as mere fabrications. I think the Pakistanis too are taking it all too personally. India offered non-aggression pact to Pakistan. No sound. Kashmir is now not a place, but an issue. The white goralog of UK and the USA, quite decent looking folks, but I am told they don't bath often, and are often cunning, are really working hard on the issue. They are sending people, Generals, high officials and the good journalists. They keep coming up with solutions, plans and, India keeps rejecting the plans, finding faults and Pakistan rejects the plans, finding faults. Kashmir Kisan Mazdoor Conference, Jammu Kisan Confrence, Socialist Party and Democratic Union, all Communist sounding parties (according to whom - all goats own all grass unfailingly, I gather. Good. Too good to be true. I sometimes suspect I too am a communist.), want foreign troops out of the State, they predict a bleak future otherwise. Don't they remember that Gen. Cariappa (what a melodious name! CariappaCariappaCariappaCariappa) promised that Indian Army would move out of the State the day Kashmiris want them to. In other news, General secretary of Communist Party of UK thinks Kashmir should be with India. Someone named Jayaprakash doesn't want Sheikh Abdullah to campaign for Congress in India. Sheikh and his man-friday Bakshi, nevertheless, campaigned for Congress in Punjab. Congress believes J&K is setting the best example of Secularism. The Papers. Wah the Papers!  London Times wasn't happy about the Kashmir Constituent Assembly elections. Observer's New Delhi correspondent thought Kashmir dispute had reached a dangerous point. New Statesman and Nation are sure that a full-scale war will end up destroying Pakistan, they want Briton to take care more of the situation. Manchester Guardian believes The solution lies just around The corner. A case of molestation of Kashmiri women came to light. Shocking!  Dawn claims Congress is conspiring to eat up Kashmir. Syrian Al Shaah  supports Pakistan. London's Truth thinks Kashmir is awaiting justice. Students in Lahore want solution to Kashmir problem, they demonstrate. Jammu Praja declared that the assembly does not represent them.  Washington Post thinks Sheikh Abdullah will win the plebiscite hands down. Pakistan banned a book 'Kashmir and Conspiracy Against Peace' written by one Mr. Vijay Kumar. Looting in Azad Kashmir, people shot dead.  Lot of changes in government there, I hear. People there also want land reforms.

What can I say! I eat akhbaar as a digestive after breakfast, lunch and dinner of plain grass. I am tired now! The vibes here do sometimes turn morose. Yes I can pick up 'vibes'. I can do so all the time. I can feel things. Sometimes I feel it's all touch and go. Big war and then the end. Jatka and then Halaal too. At moments like these Foreign journalist start hovering in the valley. But I don't think much about these things. I can't. It's just too much. I am just a goat what am I supposed to do. I was told to stand on this peg and I did so dutifully. You ask me to climb Apharwat mountain just on my hind legs and I will go twice, twice up and twice down and not once complain. I am a simple goat ( okay a beautiful Kashmiri goat one no less, and you should see my eyes, so round, perfect marbles I say. So innocent.). I try to live in the present. And yes, I almost forgot, a Swedish firm agreed to set up a wood mill in our state. Mill should be good. Not for the trees though! Haha! Bleat! Bleat! But we have too much trees here in any case. Should last us a thousand years.  Ah yes...where was  I...Yes...I try to live in the moment - the present. Like this moment right now. Here I am at peace standing on this bloody peg...the band is now almost here. I can hear the wonderful pipes clearly now, here they come. I would love to give them a salute. Let me try. Steady. Okay see this funny looking gora with his camera. On his knees, he is. You want me to hold still. No movement. Okay. You don't want  me to look into the camera. You want me to look straight ahead. Why? Don't like my eyes! Ok! Here you go. Is this fine? What you want is a Yogi pose! I will give you a Yogi. How's this? Oi! my tail is standing out, rigid, upright, too instinctive, it's trying to help me hold the posture. It must not be looking good. Have to bring it down. Damn tail. get down. I must be looking like a wild animal. Me a well trained cultured goat. Caaan't brrring it down...think Yogi...Stand still...BBBLLEEEAAAATTTTTT...be a Yogi...this moment....right here...hold....

Click.

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"Kashmir has been wrongly looked upon a prize for India or Pakistan. People seem to forget that Kashmir is not a commodity for sale or to be bartered. It has an individual existence and its people must be the final arbiters of their future. It is here today that a struggle is being fought, not in the battlefield but in the minds of men."

- Jawaharlal Nehru in New Delhi on June 11, 1951.

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The events, bizarre as they sound, are all true and are taken from a chronology presented at the end of the book 'Bonfire of Kashmiriyat' written by Sandeep Bamzai.

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