Sunday, October 28, 2018

Remains of Kashmir, 1947

After Pakistani raiders passed through Kashmir.

1. A Burnt Kashmiri peasant woman. Village Shalteng
2. A Kashmir peasant stabbed to dead.
From "Inside Pak-Occupied Kashmir" (1957) by P.N. Sharma. Photo journalist for Blitz magazine of Bombay was taken prisoner in 1948 after the plane he was in was shot down. He was assumed dead. The book gives first hand account of violence wrecked by Pakistani raiders and their motivations.

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The fire of 1947-48 is part of some personal family histories:

"In 1947, when the Kaabali raid was going on his Nanaji, Niranjan Nath Raina (called taetha) and family were living in Pattan near Baramulla and when the Kabaalis reached their village, the whole of the area was reduced to ashes. Nanaji's father was hiding somewhere in drygrass and he was burnt alive."

an account of the fire, Keys to a house not There

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Communist turns and Kashmir twists



"The idea of an independent Kashmir was originated by the Communists. For "it reflects the innermost desire of the Kashmiri people" (Cross Road, May 20, 1949). The same paper, the official organ of the party, on January 6, 1950, called on the people of Kashmir to "concentrate on mass struggle for the realization of freedom, democracy and peace, for the end of monarchy, for a people's democratic state, and for friendly relations with the Soviet Union, the People's republic of China and other neighbouring countries." Again on July 27, 1952, the paper regretted that the Kashmir delegation was being forced to accept the Indian government's terms on Kashmir's constitutional position in the Union, agreed upon in the Delhi agreement.

By the time the leaders of Kashmir started shifting toward independence, the Communists had, ironically, developed their own doubts about it. They were upset by Adlai Stevenson's cordial talks with Abdullah during his visit to Kashmir in May 1953 and reported U.S. support for Kashmir's independence. Moreover, by now post-Stalin Russia was coming to terms with India, necessitating a more nationalist orientation on Kashmir policy from the CPI. Accordingly, on August 2, Cross Road published the text of the party resolution which "viewed with grave concern reports from Kashmir that some leading personalities of the Sheikh Abdullah group and its supporters had made public declarations that the state of Kashmir should be independent of India."
[...]
"The shift in the Kashmir policy of the Communist party of India, in response to its international requirements, had handicapped the Communists within Kashmir. Having once encouraged agressive trends in Kashmiri nationalism, it had now become a champion of Indian nationalism. The party, which had called accession to India treacherous in 1950, pleased for a "de jure recognition of the present frontiers in Kashmir" in 1956, and by 1957 demanded abandonment of Pakistani aggression. Likewise, the communists first favoured full independence, then later supported limited accession, and finally advocated full integration into Union.
[...]
When the DNC [Democratic National Conference], taking the Communist position, demanded in the State Assembly the extension of the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and the Union Election Commission to the state, Bakshi condemned it as a pro-merger party trying to "sell Kashmir to India." In fact, the DNC stand helped him to appear a champion of Kashmir's autonomy. In Jammu the DNC group, in its effort to outbid the Praja Parishad, championed Dogra chauvinism and demanded a greater share for Jammu in services and in developmental expenditure. This further isolated the party in the Valley and led the National Conference to spread the rumor that the DNC was an agent of Hindus conspiring to get the state merged with the neighbouring Hindu majority state of Himachal Pradesh. The DNC was further weakened by fundamental ideological divisions within the organisation. The Jammu group, led by Ram Piara Saraf, was categorically committed to the discipline of the CPI and the principles of Communism, while the Sadiq group of Kashmir had a broader based and was nationalistic and less doctrinaire. On issues like the Tibet and Sino-India disputes, the divergence between the two groups became very marked. "
[...]
"India's tough international line on Kashmir also had a demoralising effect on the secessionists. Krishna Menon declared in the Security Council debates in 1957 that Kashmir was as irrevocable a part of India as Madras and the Punjab. Pakistan's international prestige was at a low ebb. The merger of several linguistic states in West Pakistan into a single province and the imposition of martial law were not inspiring events for the Kashmiris. Sham Lal Yachu, publicity secretary of the Political Conference, the only professedly pro-Pakistan party of Kashmir, declared in a lengthy statement that serious rethinking had started in his camp. He spoke of the advantages of Kashmir's willingly becoming a part of India. Yachu was not disowned by his party. Similarly, Prem Nath Bazaz, the first vocal exponent of Pakistan's case in Kashmir, expressed his disillusionment with Pakistan. In Abdullah's camp, too, pressure for a settlement with India was growing, and possible solution for Kashmir within the Indian framework were discussed."

Balraj Puri (Editor, Kashmir Affairs, this piece was first published in his magazine in 1960 ) on Jammu and Kashmir in "State Politics in India" (1968) Ed. Myron Weiner, published by Princeton, which was the go-to place for C.I.A for "scenario evaluation" back then for ops like Iran coup of 1953. While pre-1960s and post-1990 writings of this circle are widely available freely and shared by "experts"... this evaluations from 60s when pro-Pakistan lobby was on a back-foot would cost you around Rs.7000.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Brother from Kashmir

Guest post by Pratush Koul in which he remembers his brother from Kashmir

6th August 2013
Excelsior told us about you. How you left us and your mother all alone. She was bereaved the most. You were her only son and her sole reason to live. With you, gone were her materialistic attachments of the world. I can’t recall for how many days she stared at the door, waiting for you, waiting for her son. We were here at Jammu when we heard about you. It was past sunset, the news made us feel the dusk that day. Your memories were recalled, especially by dad, in front of whom you grew up. After this conversation, mom and dad went to sleep, but I was awake, haunted by the memories from 3 months ago when you last visited, the memories of Kashmir where we played cricket in your lawn and also by the fact that I’m never going to see my brother again, see my “Adil bhaiya” again.

2004
It was in summer - when I first traveled to Kashmir. The lakes, the green fields, and the mountains- they were all tempting. It was the 5th day of our visit I remember when we visited your home in Ompora. It was a simple, serene two storied house, I liked its appearance. When they went in the house, I got hold of my mom’s hand. My parents were greeted and were requested to sit on the “takhtposh” (A bed, short in height), When the Tea and Namkeen were being served, it was at that moment I saw you for the first time, from the crevice of the old door. You were called, and I remember you advancing towards my father and hugging him tightly, I was surprised. Then you hugged me. As we were sipping our tea you talked with my parents and I was at first startled by the fact that how were you able to talk in Kashmiri, it was believed by me that it was a special secret language. It was then explained to me after I was visibly alienated that your family and my parents had worked together in Kargil for 1-2 years. After talking with you for more than an hour, your mother asked you to take me for a stroll near the locality. My mom, being apprehensive, kindly denied as the atmosphere of Kashmir wasn’t good at that time, but after telling that Adil is with him and there is nothing to worry about, she agreed. I went with you, behind you, as you were leading the way across the lanes. We talked with each other, about weather, games, school and other things a 6 year old boy could think of. We were near a small shop and I remember meeting two of your friends. They greeted you but were looking differently at me. I could sense that something was amiss as when I moved my hand near them for a handshake, they ignored me. Then they asked you that who is this boy and where is he from. You told them that I was your brother. I glanced at you while the other two were surprised. Then I remembered one of them saying that he has a tilak on his forehead, how can he be your brother. I wasn’t able to understand that question but his tone changed dramatically after he pointed his finger on my forehead. I held your hand with my tiny fingers, sensing threat. Then you spoke”so what? He is my brother”. I felt safe after I heard these words and as I can recall, you shouted on him for scaring me and we left the place and headed straight home, on the way you told me that they were fools and don’t tell anyone about what happened. I said ok. At that day, I went out with a friend and came back with a brother.

As night started to pour in, my parents asked permission to leave as we had to head back to jawahar nagar, where we were staying. Your family tried all means to convince us for a night stay but the situation around that area was not welcoming. They allowed us to go on the condition that we come back as this visit wasn’t satisfactory. Mom and dad responded positively in unison. We headed back.

The next day, we came and had breakfast at your home. After a couple of hours as we were leaving, you started to argue with your mom that you wanted to join us. Dad said why not. So, as we leaved Ompora, with an extra accompany, we headed straight to Dal Lake. During the Shikara ride, I remember you being seated next to me, pointing at other shikara’s in the lake. As we reached the Char Chinaar Island, we clicked a lot of pictures, pictures of you posing in the white kurta pajama, pictures that were taken on houseboats, we hoped that we will only remember the time and events captured in these pictures, but when I see those pictures, I only see you, the person, the time and place seems irrelevant and blurred. After the ride, we headed to the revered shrine of Tulmul, in Ganderbal.

At that time, an auspicious day was celebrated. You joined us in the pooja and rituals and took the Prasad with us. At the end of the day, we went back to your home to drop you and the farewell was painfully difficult for me as you got all teary. We hugged each other and you said to me that we will meet soon. After bidding adieu to your family, we left.

January 2013

Months after grandpa passed away, I became quiet and didn’t talk much. One day, dad gets a call. It was from you. You wanted to visit us with some friends. My dad happily invited you and your friends and my mom prepared all kinds of food delicacies you enjoyed. Day after tomorrow, you arrived, with your three friends.

This time, as you entered the main door, I hugged you first. It was wonderful meeting you after 9 odd years. We talked a lot, about your college, my school, life back in Kashmir, your family etc. I talked with your friends also as dinner time approached. We relished on some of the finest Kashmiri delicacies and after you prayed your namaaz, we continued our talks from where we left from. It was a wonderful time, how your friends told me about your childhood menaces, how we enjoyed our previous visit and we also planned our next trip, a trip to the places we missed previously. After that we slept.

Next morning, I woke up late. I saw you pack your bags, I asked where we you going, my dad also joined. You replied that you have to leave for college. I wasn’t in the mood of letting you go. I insisted for another day, you politely declined. As you grabbed your bag and were about to leave, I asked “when will we meet next time? I didn’t even show you the pictures”. You replied”you will hear from me soon” and you left, just vanished from the main gate as I stood staring there for some time.

Present day

As I come across the old album, my eyes get all watery when it stares your face. It feels so different that I’m of the same age as yours when you left us. It feels so lonely. On that fateful day, I lost you to the deep waters of Harvan, a brother was lost that day. Looking back at our memories, I don’t see a skinny boy holding my hands while we walk through the dark lanes, I don’t see myself hiding away behind a boy when he taught some lunatics a lesson, I don’t see that shoulder on which I slept during travels, I don’t see those hands that taught me how to make shadow puppets but I see that brother for whom, age, distance and religion were no barriers. He was above them all. He stood for love and affection. Adil stood for the real Kashmiriyat. You will be remembered, you will be missed.


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