Monday, July 6, 2020

Pandit Bazaz the Iblis

If we know one thing about how ethnic cleansing is possible, it is that first intellectual arguments for defining them as perpetual "problem" is done. It needs creation of an amoral society in which killing of the "other" can be legitimised. In India, if we have Congress, Communists, Socialist etc that have done lot of work countering attempts to delegitimise Muslim existence in India, in case of Kashmir, it was National Conference that laid the foundation of systematic hated for Pandits. It was not work of religious parties in Kashmir, they joined in later, it was work of ultranationalists in Kashmir who needed a perpetual enemy they could blame for all that was wrong in Kashmir.

By 1989, the ground had already been prepared to cast Kashmiri Pandits as the eternal enemy of Kashmiri Muslims. No matter what politics they pursued - communist, socialist, ultranationalist, democrat - they were marked people. To illustrate it we can see how Prem Nath Bazaz, the man that certain Tahreekis still love to quote, was perceived in the "intellectual" circles of Kashmiri Ultranationalists.          

In "Perspectives on Kashmir" (1983) by Mohammad Ishaq Khan, writes:

"The emergence of the Kashmiri Muslims on the political map of the sub-continent forced them to move in two directions viz, communal and secular. While more than 99 per cent of the Pandits opposed the popular movement tooth and nail, an insignificant number of the Pandits like Prem Nath Bazaz decided to support the Muslims. However, the role played by the 'secular' Pandits too, proved to be far from satisfactory. Bazaz, for example, was a great influence on Shaikh Muhammad Abdullah and, although the conversion of the Muslim Conference into the National Conference was brought about by the political sagacity of the latter, it was in no small measure, the outcome of the influence of Bazaz's powerful writings and his close association with the Kashmir leader.

But it remains to be seen why Bazaz who played an important part in laying the the foundations of secular nationalism in Kashmir, later turned to be an arch enemy of the National Conference.

Not only did Bazaz join hands with the enemies of the National Conference after 1940, but he even did a lot of academic propaganda against Shaikh Abdullah so as to tarnish his towering public image. Whether Bazaz's role in Kashmir politics since 1931 has been that of a 'nationalist', a 'Pakistani', a 'socialist', or a 'reactionary' masquerading in the guise of a 'secularist' is a question worth studying; nevertheless, the course of development in his political thinking suggests particularly one significant conclusion that his political role was always strong enough to induce mutual conflict in the Muslim community of Kashmir. This is not only proved by his writings but also by the fact that the Mir Waiz family of Srinagar always enlisted the support of Bazaz in order to regain the position it had lost in Muslim society of Kashmir owing to the emergence of Shaikh Abdullah. Thus, while the pre-independence period, Bazaz supported Mirwaiz Muhammad Yusuf Shah demand for the integration of the State of Jammu and Kashmir with Pakistan, in the Assembly elections of 1977 he pitted Mir Waiz Moulana Muhammad Farooq against the National Conference so as to pave the way for the success of the Junta Party in Kashmir. It is interesting to note that the main item on the agenda in the meetings presided over by Bazaz at the Miz Waiz's house during the elections was how to bring about the downfall of Shaikh Abdullah."
Thus we find that even a Pandit like Bazaz was simply seen as a man whose actions lead to conflict in Muslim community. That Ishaq Khan links it to event of 1930s when NC was born out of split in Muslim Conference is significant as it places Pandits as a historical enemy who for their interest are always conspiring to split the Kashmiri Muslim ummah. So not only are 99% KPs are painted communal but intentions of 1%  Bazazs is also questioned. They are seen as someone extra cunning who will only confuse and mislead the Kashmiri Muslims. *


These are charges that 30 years later still are hurled at Kashmiri Pandits. The language and those making the accusations change but the gist remains the same. An evil insidious villain is made out of the community. Ishaq Khan continues with his accusations:

"The radical land reforms introduced by the National Conference government in 1950 were interpreted in communal terms by the Pandits and their supporters in Jammu and New Delhi One of the main arguments raised was that the reforms were directly aimed at the Pandits. Though the Central Government was not against the spirit of the re forms, it did not approve of the manner in which the re forms were implemented. Sardar Patel's group particularly was greatly alarmed by the radicalism of Shaikh Abdullah.
It is, therefore, hard to contest the view that Shaikh Abdullah's expulsion from power in 1953 was mainly the result of a conspiracy hatched by those Pandits whose interests in the land were affected by the promulgation of the Big Landed Estates Act of 1950.

The Pandit agitation over the voluntary conversion of a Pandit girl to Islam in 1967 also bears an eloquent testimony to the fact that Pandit leadership role in Kashmir has always been against the larger interests of the country. No less anti-national has been the role of the national press fed mainly by the Pandit correspondents; its editorials, articles and news concerning Kashmir have often looked at things with jaundiced eyes by magnifying the problems of the Pandit community. So great has been the effect of the propagandist activities of the Pandits that even a seasoned politician like Indira Gandhi was forced to remark recently that the 'minorities' are not safe in Kashmir.!

It will thus be seen that in spite of their numerical in significance, the Pandits have not only made their presence felt in the arena of national politics but even now seem to guide the destiny of the Kashmiri Muslims. True that the politics of the Pandits is the politics of certain vested interests it has, nevertheless stood in the way of emergence of the Kashmiris as a monolithic political group. The Pandits phobia regarding their property, life and religion have only served to strengthen the revivalist and the separatist forces in Kashmir in recent years. The growing popularity of the Islami Jamiat-i-Tulabba among the Muslim youth may be described as a chain reaction to the onslaught of communal forces in the Kashmir politics One need not feel surprised, therefore, why in a mammoth Friday gathering at Hazratbal recently Shaikh Abdullah felt constrained to openly criticise the inimical activities of 'Hindu communalism' in and outside the State against the Muslims of Kashmir."
When Shaikh was thrown out of Power, again a Pandit conspiracy was blamed for it. Street gossip is passed off as popular opinion. The portrait of KP that is painted sees them as people who lie to Center to make Kashmiri Muslims suffer, KP journalists as "agents" who mislead someone "seasoned" as Indira Gandhi and communalists driven by phobia who are forcing not just Muslims youths to turn to Jamaat and radical Islam but also forcing Shaikh Abdullah into making communal speeches. Thus they are presented as the anti-national devil who has been (mis)guiding the destiny of Kashmiri Muslims. They are the reason for all that is wrong in Kashmir. It is a surprise that in 1989 when guns arrived in Kashmir as the "solution", it was only the "Pandit Problem" that got solved? Is it a surprise that the marked men among KPs were journalists, historians, socialists, democrats, communists, liberals, secularists, nationalist and ultranationalist of all kind? Every KP was a problem. It was this intellectual sophistry that made this violence possible. 
 
 

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*After coming across these writing of Prem Nath Bazaz, I was expecting that someone among Kashmiri Ultranationalist would have gone out of way to discredit him. 

These writings and thoughts were the trigger:  




Saturday, June 20, 2020

"Exile and Death" by Sushant Dhar

Where is Home

A few lived it, many died and some waited. His last words were, ‘Where is Home?’


Refugee Camp, Jammu Province, 1990’s…


It was a sea of people. Hundreds of trucks were lined up; each carrying a home. I remember the day when one man lost his life to the blazing sun in the afternoon. He lived in our block. He was forty. He earned his living by binding books. He was playing cards on the roadside. Feeling dizzy he left in between, and fell panting in the middle of the road. People offered him water. He died instantly.


Pitambar Nath’s body was found on the banks of the river Tawi. He was cremated the same day at Devika Ghat. The next day we woke up to cries from the block adjacent to us. The temple was flooded with men and women. I saw an old man’s body wrapped in white cloth lying on the floor. He was being washed. A priest was chanting hymns. People were offering water to the dead. Gash Nath died due to electrocution. A high tension wire ran close to his quarter. The chant asking God for forgiveness reverberated in the entire camp. ‘Kshyantavue maiaprada shiv shiv shiv bho shree mahadev shambu’. The man who works at the crematorium says, ‘We mostly receive bodies for cremation from refugee camps.’


***


The whole camp is engulfed in a silence of despair and longing. A house with several rooms lies vacant in the village. Fifteen families have sought refuge in Narayan temple near the camp. Some live in sheds and fabricated structures alongside the railway station. One old woman is hurling abuses in her native language. She is sweating profusely. Her husband is continuously stamping the earth with his feet. He shouts at the sky, ‘This is galling, this is galling.’ He does this all day.


People are dying in numbers. The one in E-1 died of a snake bite. Hriday Nath succumbed to fever. One of the teachers from the Government School lost hold of himself. A week later, he left and never returned. Some say he was last seen at the crematorium and then at the bus stand. Did he ever board the bus to his home? Is he alive? Nobody knows.


***


The camp welfare association has been formed last night. Trilok Dhar will be taking us to the commissioner’s office. He has a few contacts. People taking refuge in Geeta Bhawan will also be joining us. Have you received the ration? They are giving 5 kilos rice to each family. This is the ration card. It has my permanent address. This is all what is left. We must carry it along with us every time. This is our identity. They are going to shift us to a different camp. It will be on a hilltop. Where are you going? You must not go out. The sun has come out early in the morning. Be with us for a few days. We will talk.


Niranjan Kak with a frozen flickering smile: I’ll take a walk over the wooden bridge. I’m feeling a bit perturbed. I have to take care of my cows. The fields have been left unattended. The garden is in complete disarray. Let me call Jigri. Where is Vijay? Where is Asha? What’s with the walnut tree? Why has it dried? Who has stolen the fruits? Look at the frozen sky. The river has changed its course. Someone has set my house on fire. It’s burning down to ashes, the house of my ancestors. Look at the mound of the dead. I must leave. I have things to do.


He lived alone in the camp in a shabby room covered by cobwebs. He mostly seated himself on the bed and at times on the wooden chair alongside his bed. The picture of his native house always lies close to him. It is not a dangerous illness but the memory of home that torments him for days and weeks. The sobs slow down when the darkness sets in. Nights are filled with shrieks and native songs.


I remember the way to my home, 200 meters from the bridge, near Farooq’s bakery.


‘I nurture my longing and see through days. I will wait. They say we will be taken in buses. I have packed everything. When are they taking us back? I make amends with my heart. I caress it. My heart starts throbbing violently when I visit the place. I tremble and run back. Look at the stream of tears flowing through my eyes. I have grown bitter over the years. I am losing my memory. It’s something like a bridge which hangs above the desert. The bridge shakes every second. It’s not fixed. One has to crawl to reach to the other end. It changes position. Many fell down and died. The old man and the woman couldn’t hold for long and jumped to death. I persisted for days and years. Hundreds died. Bridge remains. It hangs. It devours. I escape. I run. Horses cry, make sounds and gallop towards the bridge. I mount on a horse and take the route through mountains. I jump from mountain to mountain, peak to peak, into the valley of mountains and then towards a vast emerald blue sea spanning the entire universe. I have grown lonelier. Solitude is eating me up. Where have they gone? Who is jeering on the streets? 


***


Where are my cigarettes? Have I turned a little sallower on face? No. Am I sweating? Yes. Who started this carnage? They. Who will stop this conflagration? Where are the firefighters? I’ll wait till my final breath. I have tumors in my stomach. It refuses to take food. I bark like a dog. There is mud all over on the sky. It’s on my face. There is no light. One day I will die in sleep. That must be liberating. Death will be my final emancipation. Deliverance.


Do you sense this turmoil in my heart, this devastation? Who can save this exile from dying in an alien land amidst strangers? Nobody! Waiting seems like dying, dying every day. Where is the priest? He is out for the tenth day at Ranbir canal. Who died? Bansi Lal from Block Q. How is Hriday Bhan? He is suffering from lung cancer. He pleads with God to give him death. How is his wife? She died a week back.


Have they cut down all the trees? There are no trees. This is desert. Where is the harvest of this season? Who stained it with blood? I wait for the return of winter. What’s with the sun? Who has fixed it over my head? Why is it not moving away? This is summer. Where are the hillocks? This is desert. Why is the window pane shut? There are no windows. Who will cry when I will die? Nobody. What to do with these memories that have accumulated in my heart? They assail me. Give them to fire. What to do with the dreams? Starve them. How many summers are waiting? My guts have dried. Water them. 


Everything will be turned to ashes. Every one of us will die.


***


Who is groaning?


It’s him. He is trembling, another paroxysm of yearning. He is breathing heavily. Yes, he is alive. He lives.


Where is the photo frame with the picture of his house?


He flings it out.


Give it to him. Tell him, ‘The bus will come in an hour’.                                    


I heard, ‘They are shifting us to another camp. People are already on the move. The place is around cement factories. Slum. Desert. Brick kilns. I am tired of moving from one camp to another camp. Where is home?’


Why these breathless, dreary sighs? Death is near. It has been set in motion. We will die like dogs. Look at them. They are galloping towards us. It’s a mob with swords and guns. Run! 


Niranjan Kak is writing names on a paper. It is his permanent address. The place has been burnt. The house was looted. He wears pheran in summer. He has a long beard. The photo frame with the picture of his house hangs from his neck. 


‘I will wait on the bridge for the whole day. I will wait for the fires to ebb. It is not that everything stands destroyed, that everything is in ruins, a memory still breathes, a laugh still resounds in the rooms, a house still stands tall and the earth still bears my footmarks. Flowers have dried and trees have picked a disease. Time has wilted them. They long for water.’


 I haven’t locked my room and wardrobe. They have plundered it. The new pillows still lay on the bed waiting for my father to rest on them. My mother isn’t doing well. She has fever. I’ll go to the town to collect some medicines. My radio and new books are in the almirah.


***


He is on his bed now, muted. He doesn’t speak to anyone. He has stopped eating. He walks inside his room, making a circle every minute. He never comes out of his dwelling. He fears sun. He waits for winter. He waits for homecoming. He has grown weary and old. He has long hair and beard. He lays famished on his bed. His eyes are fixed on the ceiling. He wears a vacant look. He doesn’t blink for hours. He hides the pills and other medicines under his pillow. The chemist nearby the camp visits him every week and feeds him intravenously. He offers a faint cry, a wail every morning and evening.


What is life to me and what is its meaning? It’s a long tiring wait. It is futile. Flakes of snow welcome me at the door. Who lights the lamp? Smell the incense and see the rising embers. Where has the mystic gone? What’s with the people? Why have they gone mad? Who has killed Janki Nath and Bimla? Where is Ramesh?  Everybody has fled. I hear gunshots. Do you hear? A mob is coming towards our house. Do you hear their slogans? They have taken a vow. Every one of us will be wiped away. There will be massacres. They are coming. They will kill us all. Where is Home?


He has grown hysterical and his memory keeps tormenting him.


Why are the trees bereft of their fruits? What has happened to them? Time has poisoned them. Desert has grown on snow. They grow only leaves and stems, no flowers. Where are the birds? What is with the water? Who has changed its color and its sweetness? It has become sour and frothy. What has happened to the village and its houses? Who has lived here? Who has left them? Who wails inside them? Where are the children? What memories they hold? Who cries all night? Let them stone me. Where should I go? I’ll bury myself in the walls or I’ll dig a sepulcher for myself. What’s with the fire and its flame? Who is dousing it?


I am reminded of a path that was all laden with grass and mist with dense woods. Now it’s only stones. I see a river passing by, a flock of sheep dotted with different colors, walnut trees, rice fields, clear sky and a thud of cold breeze floating on chinar leaves. I am reminded of the giant folding of mountains guarding our village. These are spherical dwellings, hovels. It is a new place. The house stands buried now. Bricks have turned into dust.


***


The next day I visited the engineer to borrow the almanac from him. He was preparing his bed, covering it with white bed sheet, two pillows at the head end and one at the other. He hurriedly allowed me to come in. He was delighted at the sight of seeing someone visiting him. He smiled with a sparkle on his face. I asked for almanac. He offered me tea. I shifted my gaze. A sour odor wafted in the room. Nauseating. The place was reeking. A strong stench emanated from the room. He had placed a kerosene stove on bricks. There were few utensils. A large portrait of a Goddess. A family portrait. Scraps of paper all over, each having the same thing written over, the address. Table Fan. A kerosene lamp hanging from the nail above a small wooden shelf. Ration Card. Books. A dusty mirror and a round comb. Ashtray. Cigarette stubs. A soiled sheet lying on the floor. The smell of quilt and mattress. We had our tea. He mentioned places and names. There were moments of silence.


‘I don’t believe in God, I believe in death, I saw many. I saw water turning black. I saw ghosts pillaging everything in their way. It is only between me and the flames. Only time will decide who will consume whom?’


‘The blood soaked hands rise in the dark, circling my neck. I lost them all. I'll not survive this sweltering summer. I’m all dry. Parched stomach. This darkness is eating me up. I’ll die in disquiet. I vomit. I shiver. I breathe heavily. I have nausea. This is not home. I have been dragged here. I don’t belong to this place. I’m suffering today. I’ll suffer tonight. I’ll suffer tomorrow. It’s a vale of sufferings. I’m dying. I’m waiting for the winter. I’ll go home. I’ll die there. I’ll suffer there, but not in solitude. My stomach is long dead. The food is floating. My mouth is stinking. I can’t bear the stink. What will I do? I will stop my breath.


‘Winter has arrived. Bring me some snow, snow in round earthen vessel. It will not melt. Bring me some snow.  I will touch it; I’ll let it melt in my hands. I will stand still when it starts snowing.’


He stopped in the middle of the conversation, something came upon him, and he started murmuring to himself, looked at me in an instant and started crying like a child. He rose from the bed and fell on his knees pleading with me to take him to his native home. ‘Take me. Take me to my home. I have money, I’ll spend it all. Take me to my home. I will kiss the walls of my house. I will die anytime. The sun is eating me. I haven’t slept for a week. This heat is charring me. Take me to the commissioner. Take my ration card and show it to them. This guy knows me. He is from our village. His father was my friend. He will arrange a taxi for me. Write a letter to the Government. Have this diary. Call my friend. He will take me home. Where have they all gone? She is here with me all the time. She loves strolling with me in the garden, walking down the road, and leading to the river gushing through the village. We sit for hours on the banks of the river. She dips her long hair in the water and waits for the sunrise.


‘I will walk close to that mountain surrounding the entire village. They say the river has reduced to a thin quiet stream. The river has dried. I will follow the stream. I will wait for the water to turn sweet. The wait is tiring. I lived life in solitude. I don’t die either.’ 


It was in the summer of the year 2000; Janmashtami festival was being celebrated in the camp. The temple was all flooded with devotees. A rather pale cloak of darkness had descended on the morning. The earth had lost its smell. He was in the middle of eating his lunch. The glass of water had spilled over. There was rice spattered all over his bed. His fingers were clenched tightly with one hand holding a fistful of rice. The tip of his tongue had come out, bruised and marked by streaks of blood. His mouth was half-filled with food. The eyes were dry and clear; a tear had rolled down his cheeks. His face looked as if marred by enormous grief and the picture of his native house hung from his neck. He was dead, lying on his feces. Ashen legs, blue swelled veins, bloated belly, blanched shaven glistening face and combed hair. His eyes gave me a long gaze. Niranjan Kak, the engineer was no more. I opened the pack in a hurry and smoked half of them. The other half I kept on his bed and went away.


The chanting continued… ‘Kshyantavue maiaprada shiv shiv shiv bho shree mahadev shambu.’


Notes:

1. Tawi: A river in Jammu Province in the state of J&K.

2. Devika Ghat: Name of a crematorium.

3. Pheran: Traditional Kashmiri attire worn during winters.

4. Janmashtami: Hindu Festival celebrating the birth of Lord Krishna.

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This piece was first published in Muse India, Issue 70.

Sushant's work has been published by Outlook, Kitaab, Bloomsbury, The Bombay Review, Muse India, New Asian Writing, Coldnoon and others. 

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Artwork: Vinayak Razdan


Sunday, June 14, 2020

chakrini, dance

A look at the whirling ritual among KP women and a possible link to Kashmir Shaivism. Why do KP women dance in circles at certain special occasions? Touching the tip of an iceberg here. 

Chakrini, the principal shakti, potter's wife. Mentioned in Tantraloka, Book 29, Kula ritual, Abhinavagupta, 11th century, Kashmir. (tr. John Dupuche):

"She brings pressure to bear on the seed in order to separate the oil from the husk, she who, in the [midst of these wives], is Kundalini. As mistress of the 'three-and-a-half' tradition, she while standing on the 'bulb', circulates everywhere."

"She who is the ninth [sakti], Cakrini, circulates while remaining at the centre of the universe. She brings pressure to bear on every seed inorder to separate the oil from the husk. Moreover, she who is called 'Kundalini' moves out from the confines of the 'bulb'."




Saturday, May 23, 2020

Choun Rokh Poshwun Gulab. Lyrics. Translation.



Choun Rokh Poshwun Gulab Chuna
you face is rose in bloom, is it not?
Gulshanan manz su intikhaab Chuna
chosen one among gardens, is it not?

Mayen dree chay Dyakas grih mutchraav
i beg you, unwind sad lines of your forehead
yoot chasman andar tche aab chuna
water in your eyes has dried, has it not?

chyen dree zaenith be chus khamosh
I swear on you, I know, yet I am silent
na kya zan me'nish jawaab chuna
not as if the answer, I don't have

Dil ratchun fitratan me aadat chum
to nurture heart, this habit, is my nature
Dil bajaey wanum sawaal chuna
a happy heart, is a question, is it not?

Jaanbaazaz asar novi saazas
Jaanbaz's music casts a potent spell
nati prathkeasi'nis Rabaab chuna
else everyone has a  Rabaab, is it not?

~ Ghulam Nabi Dolwal "Janbaz" Kishtwari, Singer-Lyricist-Poet
Tr. Vinayak Razdan

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An old video of the poet:





Saturday, May 16, 2020

exile and art exhibit | Kochi Biennale, 2019




I witnessed this scene at Kochi Biennale in March, 2019. A girl was looking for her family house in an installation by Veer Munshi titled "Pandit Houses". She called up someone on the phone and asked them if they recognized. She was hoping to see it there. It wasn't. "All of them look similar". I later talked to the girl and found that she had traveled from Chennai. 

The actual installation had a display screen in center, in it a house burns on loop. Someone, visitor, it seems had stolen the display pad. So, you you had was houses. 

"Homes don't get demolished, they live inside us...Grid of 50 Photographs and Video on loop 5x7 inches each Veer Munshi's "Pandit House" is an ongoing photographic archive. It presents the stark documentary evidence, without annotation or comment, of the erasure of the Kashmiri Pandit  minority from the life of the Valley. This is the tragic outcome of a combination of factors: separatist violence and intolerance, the cynical indifference of the State, the breakdown of trust between communities. Presented without manipulation or theatricality, these houses and neighbourhoods, left behind by a community fleeing into exile, stand in our line of site as ruins, monuments, memorials. Munshi's suite of photographs provides testimony to the unforgiving march of history, which takes no prisoners."

That's the on-site description of the installation. The text contextualized the work in reference to Kashmir, when it talks about "erasure of the Kashmiri Pandit minority from the life of the Valley", with "life of valley" being the subject. However, in the video one can see what "Homes don't get demolished, they live inside us" means and what weird thing the installation does to a subject. Even a sighting is a prossible celebrations. Reclaiming of a memory. And all of this, nothing to do with the actual physical thing - House.

 
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Additional exhibits:

Hauntology by Veer Munshi. There was "power cut" at the time, so it came out all the more haunting. Dead turning into precious relics. More precious than life. Little collectables. Exhibits. Whole valley a mine. That's what all the shine in the darkness of grave spoke to me.

text at the exhibit:

Veer Munshi

Hauntology

In his installation Relics from the Lost Paradise, the Kashmir-born artist Veer Munshi seems to literalize the dictum 'History is Alive'. Both the reliquary and the coffin are repositories/ resting places for the dead, with the difference that one is configured to the task of animating/ remembrance, the other with that of putting wayl forgetting. While contact with the contents of the former, is deemed salubrious and hence desirable, the thought of exposure to the contents of a grave would engender abject horror and repulsion. Both these objects are charged, albeit differently, with magical properties. One while the other haunts. Mobilizing the strong charge of abjection and grim consequence, induced by the imagery of a disinterred grave, the artist, in an emulation of the passion of Heath cliff, offers up for examination a war-tom and dismembered body of Kashmir as a corpus delicti, opening a space for meditation on the protracted suite and the larger question why war? The audience is invited to take a walk through the graveyard of history and throw themselves open for possession by the undead past and the dying present in a corrective danse macabre. Often times, all that the dead want is for someone to hear their story before the graph shifts from the paranormal to the normal again.


Murder of Crows by Gargi Raina [previously] Being a generational mainland KP, this was only work that looked at Kashmir from a distance, and in a bit of old school "paradise" lost format. 



   




text at the exhibit:

Gargi Raina

A MURDER OF CROWS (The Crow Funeral)

Gouache, ink, charcoal on paper 5 panels : 6.25 ft x 3.5 ft each 2018

In the English language a more poetic word is used to describe collective nouns, specifically groups of animals. In the book of St. Albans, in 1486 in medieval England these terms are mentioned

a gaggle of geese.
a school of fish, 
a pride of lions, 
A Murder of Crows

Crows are one of the closest to human beings in feeling and expressing grief collectively at the death of one of their own Crows hold funerals and mourn their dead. When a crow dies, other crows fly from afar and gather around and make a lot of noise In response to a distress call from near a dead crow, other crows fly in from afar and gather around and make a lot of noise. They react strongly to seeing one of their own who has died. These crows can share the knowledge of dangerous humans with other crows They have long collective memories and hold a grudge and pass it on to their offspring The sight of a dead crow leaves a lasting impression on living crows. This expression of public collective grief of crows is akin to human collective grief at funerals.

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A Root-less Tree by Santosh Shah ‘Nadan'. Tr. Aman Indra Kaul


A Root-less Tree 

by Santosh Shah ‘Nadan'

Tr. from Kashmiri by Aman Indra Kaul


Where have I left to, where have I come to
In all corners has home’s love sunk to
What do I tell thee, what have I been through

Pick up your pens, elegies should you write
Hiding our identity, left we our homes
Weeping us, abusing they, left we our homes

Exile is extirpating a chinar from its roots
When does a wasteland reap verdure
Sown to its own home, it springs furthermore

Ramayan’s end is now its start
Gone have Rishis from the valley too
Dashrath finally, but had to die
Waiting for final rites, parched, he died

I, from birth, built a home like an ant
Like a thief, I, a raazbaa’e left home too
Having lost its way, where do I head to

In front of home were Sangrishi, in front Rishimoal
When do I run to wash my Saptrishi’s feet
Why division of humans when we all were one

Ganeshbal, Tulmul, Shankaracharya, Silgam
Amarnath, on its head, sitting like a chief
Lokutpur, you know, was my all-time abode

Nund Rishi, Sadarmaej, Mangladevi sthaan
Uintpore astaan, with what feet do I go there
Who will take taher on chodish to Zaala

How do I start towards Nilnaag Omoh
And a far-off place where ‘Amir’ lives
How do I reach Mukdoom Sahib and to Sharika

Where’s my father’s home and my in-laws’
Where are neighbours and childhood buddies
Who’s gonna go to Vomaaye on gang’e atham

Where be our Koshur and its culture
Where do I breathe under Chinar’s shade
Where do I relax with kangri and chai from Samavaar

Don’t change colours, don’t you Kashmiri Pandits
Tread truth’s way and don’t you fall fake
Think what waste has exile turned us into

How do I forget the rishi’s abode—
the home of sufis and saints
Kashmir, I tell you,
the ‘Nadan’ of Chandigam is devoted to you.


Notes on Translation:

Translated from Kashmiri. In its original form and language, this poem is very lyrical at most junctures. While translating, with whatever little I could, I tried to keep the flow as much as possible however pressing harder on rhyme would have lead to loss of meaning.

I had Rushdie in mind while translating. I wanted the Koshur in it to remain. Maybe, for posterity, like ‘atham’ to be remembered not as ‘ashtami’. So I left some of it unturned.

Because I was born in Delhi post exile, I don’t have the total grasp on the language and its dynamics. It is very much possible for me to misunderstand a word, a line or a stanza. Hence and otherwise too, I’m all in for constructive criticism.

— Aman Indra Kaul


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Original by Santosh Shah ‘Nadan', written in 1993

Mool Ros Kul

Kyati Draay yor kot roznay aaye
Hyeni Hyeni saneymez me gharich maaey
Kyah wanai andri kyah me gudromut   
Hyeni Hyeni saneymez me gharich maaey

Tul kalam maanav lekh vyn khataey 
Ghar'e dramutey aesey nesif raatey
vyed vyed zyed karaan draay hamsaayey
Hyeni Hyeni saneymez me gharich maaey

Ghar nyerun chaey mool'e kadin booyn'ya
Dodryomut kyati pravi sabzaar
Teli febi yeli dil dimhon bey panin jaaye
Hyeni Hyeni Saneymez me gharich maaey

Phirith log ramayan, reshyev ti hyot tcholnuy
Dashrathas phirith marnuy pyov
Tresh haety naad booz trev lari jaaye 
Hyeni Hyeni Saneymez me gharich maaey

Zanmah derith sobrum daeray
gom kochey pheray kotu vate bo
raj raeni ghari draay zan tchor baiye
Hyeni Hyeni Saneymez me gharich maaey

buthi chum Sangresh bey chum Reshimol
satreshi gomut me hol pad chalhae
kyazi kuni zaat bagrin aay
Hyeni Hyeni Saneymez me gharich maaey

Ganeshbal Tulmul Shankrachaya Silgami
Amarnath bihit chum paane Padshah
Mukam loketpor cham bihinijaye
Hyeni Hyeni Saneymez me gharich maaey

Nundresh Sadarmej Mangladev Sathaan
Uintporas astaan kith vaate bo
kus neye tahar tchot Tchodash Zaayale
Hyeni Hyeni Saneymez me gharich maaey

Nilnag Womu kith kar prasthaan
Dooru Shahbaad Amir Rozaan
Kith Gatche Mokhdam Sehibun ti Sharikaaye
Hyeni Hyeni Saneymez me gharich maaey

Kyate Malyun Myon Kyate Vaeriv Myon
Kyate chum Hamsaay ti chatboj myon
Kusu gatche Gangashtame Womaaye
Hyeni Hyeni Saneymez me gharich maaey

Kyate bane Koshur ti Koshur Samtchar
Kyate chav yati bihit boni Sahjaar
Kyate bani Kangir ti samavaar chaay
Hyeni Hyeni Saneymez me gharich maaey

Kashmir Pandito ma kar dalbadli
Saandto satich vath ma ban nakli
souchtav ghar nirith gai zaaye
Hyeni Hyeni Saneymez me gharich maaey

Kyate trav Reshiwaer aalamas yiwaan vaer
Sufiyan ti Santan hinz aati paer
Nadan Tchandhigaam chay seevay
Hyeni Hyeni Saneymez me gharich maaey

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Monday, May 11, 2020

Nehru on Plebiscite to Sheikh, 1947




Dwarkanath [Katju] writes to me that there is strong feeling in the leadership of the National Conference against referendum. I know this and quite understand it. In fact I share the feeling myself. But you will appreciate that it is not easy for us to back out of the stand we have taken before the world. That would create a very bad impression abroad and more specially in U.N. circles. I feel, however, that this question of referendum is rather an academic one at present. We have made it clear and indeed it is patent enough that there can be no referendum till there is complete peace and order in Kashmir State and all the raiders have been pushed out. As far as I can see this desirable consummation will be be achieved for some months yet. In the Pooch area it is quite possible that these raiders might continue to function in the hills and it might not be worthwhile for us to make a major effort to push them out during the winter. Thus for some months the question of referendum does not arise in any practical form.

These months will be full of developments and those developments will govern future events including the possibility of having a referendum. If this struggle lasts for several months, the chances of referendum automatically fade out.

If we said to the U.N.O. that we no longer stand by a referendum in Kashmir, Pakistan would score a strong point and that would be harmful to our cause. On the other hand, if circumstances continue as they are and the referendum is out of the question during the next few months, then why worry about it now? Indeed I have seen an argument in an English newspaper partly supporting out viewpoint about the referendum and saying that other events are deciding the issue and that in any event there can be no referendum before the spring.

There is no difference between you and us on this issue. It is all a question of the best tactical approach. I would personally suggest to you not to say anything rejecting the idea of a referendum but to lay stress on the fact that the people of Kashmir, by their heroic resistance, are deciding the issue themselves; also that it is a little absurd for people to carry on a little war in Kashmir and, when defeated, to want a referendum. If there is any serious intent on their part, they should have stopped this war and drawn back the raiders.


~ 21 November 1947. Nehru writes to Sheikh Abdullah on murmurs inside NC against referendum. These guys knew as long as Pakistan was the aggressor there was going to be no referendum. For them it was just an academic exercise.   

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Above. Selective mishmash quotes of Nehru often peddled in Pakistan Propaganda. The objective being to fool present day self declared Nehruvian about their legacy. 
Below: Full context of "If we did anything of the kind", provided by Stanley Wolpert
Nehru's ambassador to Pakistan had suggested that India hand over Pakistan for the sake of peace.
Nehru explaining what it would mean for India.  
"you hinted at Kashmir being handed over to Pakistan...if we did anything of the kind our Government would not last many days and there would be no peace...It would lead to war with Pakistan because of public opinion here and war-like elements coming in control of our policy. We cannot and we will not leave Kashmir to its fate...The fact is that Kashmir is of the most vital significance to India...[H]erelies the rub...We have to see this though to the end...Kashmir is going to be a drain on our resources, but it is going to be a greater drain on Pakistan."

That Kashmir was going to be drain was becoming a pitch in certain circles in India. In 1952, Ambedkar naively said, "the matter is within the charge of the UNO and I do not think that Pakistan would be so foolish as to invade Kashmir or to invade this country in the teeth of the U.N.O. decision on the subject. Therefore, again, why are you maintaining this Army?"

 In Feb 1954, Pakistan started getting weapons and training from America. A decade later they were ready with Operation Gibraltar, an exercise straight from CIA's Bay of Pigs cookbook.
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Ronald Searle's Nehru cartoon. Punch Cartoon. 1957. Peacekeeper in Egypt, asking for UN and US intervention. Painted Warmonger (like Modi) when it comes to Kashmir. All driven by world politics and individual interests of power countries.

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Saturday, May 9, 2020

Copland mistake and fallout





More on the malicious propaganda and lies against Kashmiri Pandits produced in elite Indian universities. Or rather the mediocrity of the work peddled out on the subject. Above is an extract from a paper titled "The Caste of Migrants: Affirmative Action and the Case of Kashmiri Pandits" (2018) by Pushpendra Johar, Department of Anthropology, University of Delhi. The paper sets out to prove how "reservations" for "Kashmiri Migrants" are against the notion of reservation laid out on India constitution and such. How does the paper go about it? By talking about KP supposed affluence and influence hundred years ago. And even here, to make the argument, the paper relies on secondary sources that themselves are part of deliberate lies. Where it cannot lie, it just creates a smoke screen in which reader is unable to read the data without bias. For the above passage it relies on "Islam and Political Mobilization in Kashmir, 1931-34, Ian Copland (1981). Copland is much cited in such studies and now considered an authority. As we shall see, it has flaws. A flaw an outsider can easily or deliberately make, and no one will question it as 'KPs as exploiters of Kashmir" is a settled theme in public discourse on Kashmir.  

The paper by DU guy claims 78% gazetted post were held by Hindus and Sikhs. Then in next line, instead of Hindus, he mentions Kashmiri Pandits, to imply this 78% was Kashmiri Pandits and Sikh that held "all the job". The writer makes the basic mistake of assuming that all Hindus in the state were KPs. 

Fact:
In 1931, according to census data, there were 13133 total people in Public Administration and 12265 in State service

According to census, for every 1000 employees in State Service, about 305.9 were KP men and for every 100 woman employees in State Service, only 1 Female was KP woman. Overall, we can say 70% of State service comprised of other communities.

Next, quoting Copland, he makes the oft repeated claim that in 1931: "in Mirpur tehsil 94 % patwaris were Kashmiri Brahmin". Ian Copland indeed mentions it, and this claim has found its way into many scholarly works including the "Hindu rulers, Muslim subjects" by Mridu Rai (2004), a work much loved by Tahreekis for providing them the excuse for their violence on minorities of the state and for claiming the whole J&K as a Muslim territory. Copland mentions his source as "Report by Major General R.G. Finlayson on the visit of Inspection and Enquiry into Mirpur Tehsil" (1932). The "secret" report was result of riots of January 1932 in Mirpur in which Muslim majority killed and displaced the Hindu and Sikh minority. There were "Jathas" moving in from Punjab, hearing rumors about the scale of killings, they were rushing to kill Muslims. The situation was brought under control, but migration did happen. The British believed economic grievances to be the real reason for communal flare-up. Copland forwards the same argument. All fine. But, what are Kashmiri Pandits doing there in the quote of Copland? Were 94% patwaris in Mirpur tehsil Kashmiri Pandits or Kashmiri Hindus?

No. 

The actual wording of Finlayson in the report (attached) mentions just "Hindus" and not Kashmiri Pandits. 




Pandits as Oil Wells


 Wajahat Habibullah
in HT interview Jan 17, 2020 


 
This is how propaganda factory has been "handling" Kashmiri pandit tragedy. He is asked about events of 90 instead he talks vaguely about 25-35% government jobs being held by KPs. Ask him when? What time is he talking about? Pre- 1940s? How is it relevant to events of 90. How will a lay reader understand this contextless number? Reader will understand it the only way the speaker wants them to: that in 1990 KPs were holding 30% jobs (trigger "exploitative", autosuggest: see the killings in that light). Which of course is a lie. In 1990 out of total 2 Lakh + state employees only about 12 thousand were KPs. So, this begs the question why such discussion on KPs start in certain circles with this lie. To understand how potent this propaganda is, we have the famous case of Barkha Dutt also using the exact same approach to KPs in a TV report few years ago. What kind of an echo chamber has been created?

To understand that, we reach the end of Habibullah's piece. So high are they on their own drug, that they think since KPs were in government service since a hundred years, by now they have become Jeff Bezos, and that to be citizen of Kashmir, KPs need to prove their utilitarian benifits, and they be given those special Visas that western nations have for super rich. Basically, if Kashmir is a dirty rug, KPs have to be Nirma super. And not just stop there, they have to setup factory of Nirma detergent.

There is a theory why ethnic cleansing become possible. The root of it is an amoral society*. In such a society those at the top start seeing a group as something other than people. In some uncivilized places people think of "others" as parasites, in civilized Kashmir, KPs are seen as just enemy agents since the time of Mughals. The absurd, the amoral, is so normal that the solution to KP issue is presented as telling people that KPs  are actually oil wells so missed in Kashmir. Thus often such articles tell you benifit of KPs, that they can do wonder for education sector on Kashmir, that they are good doctors, or engineers etc, they can bring "normalcy". As if Majority in valley has to be convinced that KPs is the missing brick from his broken house wall. We are no bricks, we are people. Even the most useless, vile, poor, pathetic of KPs don't deserve to have to play this 25-30% game for next 30 years, and then try and "buy" their way back into Kashmir. We are talking about people who have nothing to show as "inheritance" (ironically communist in that aspect) and these babulog are telling majority in valley that KPs should move their oil mills to Kashmir. As what...collateral? Houses of most KPs are already lost collateral. Investment that our grandparent and parent generation made.

What has any of it got to do with right of KPs to exist in Kashmir on their own terms. Even the most useless Kashmiri Pandit does not seize to be a Kashmiri just because he is useless. Even a prisoner does not lose his citizenship just because he is a prisoner. 

Why feed such amoral nonsense to people?

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Friday, May 8, 2020

Bambroos, Akura, 1960s




My mother's maternal grand uncle in his village Akura (Okur), Anantnag. 1960s.  Govind Joo Bambroo (Gund-maam, for my mother) was youngest uncle (mama) of my Nani. Gundmaam was a lover of Kehwa, loved it loaded with dalcheeni and elachi. Okur, when it crops up in conversation with my mother, is always remembered as a village paradise. Apparently a stream snaked silently under the wooden old house which was my nani's matamaal. Okur is the place from where my nani and her children, my mother, her sister and brother get their nose.

The family had a lot of cows, in 1990 when the family fled, the barn's gate was kept open for the cows to walk out and find new homes. 

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Photograph from 1950s. Seated on chair: My Nani's mother. Her name was Yamberzal. After marriage she was renamed Umrawati, wife of Tarachand Raina, of Chattabal near Batte Booyn (Pandit Chinar). Tarachand was store keeper for British Bungalow at Gulmarg. Later the family moved to Karfali Mohalla. 

Chattabal is where my father's family comes from. The two families knew each other. Tarachand Raina's brother's first wife was sister of my great-grand mother. She died due to pregnancy complications. She had two children at the time, a boy named Radhakrishan Raina and a girl (mother remembers her as "kamjigri"). It is said she had Tchaman (Paneer) and died of colitis. This would be in 1930s. Radhakrishan Raina was stuck in Sialkot in 1947. He never returned. His wife, Radhikarani (my mother remembers her Chotey Bhabi) was pregnant with second child at the time. The family lived in Chattabal, my grandmother was friends with here. Radhikarani died in 2018, my grandmother was in Kerala with me at the time. When the news came on the phone, she cried and remembered Radhika Rani's life. Radhikarani's original name was something else, perhaps Shyama, she was renamed after the name of her husband.  She was great at making tablecloth out of used rugs. I heard how even as late as in 1965 war there was talk that Radhakrishan had survived, in prison, or converted. There was hope. Turned out to be rumor. 

When my Nani was pregnant with her first one, Radhakarani was also expecting. They were visited by a wandering saint, perhaps Prath Mout (Prath the Madman), a mercurial ascetic who would forecast future, say it out load, even if it was bleak. Mout told Radhakarani that she would deliver a boy, but he asked that the child better be given to him after birth. Radhakarani knew this meant something bad was about to go down. To my Nani also, he forecast a boy, but he said, you can keep him as you will need him.

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Thursday, May 7, 2020

Animus for Kritiya


Harwan Tile
Harwan Tile. 1950s when tiles were still openly displayed at the site
 
After about fifty years post death of Buddha (around 450 BC), monk Madhyantika arrives in Kashmir to bring it into the domain of Dharma. He brings along with him Manushakritya, "householder" slaves to inhibit and serve the place. They become the rulers of Kashmir after the death of Madhyantika. Overtime, native Naga worship mixed with Brahmanism and Buddhism. A mix looked down upon as corruption of Dharma.  

These people introduced to Kashmir by Madhyantika are referred as Kritiyas in travelogues of Chinese Buddhist pilgrim texts. Kritiyas, at the time was used contemptuously to mean unclear/lowborn/pigs/demons who dig out corpses/"serfs"-slaves bought. In the story of these people we find for first time hatred for a group of people in Kashmir, for their mixed native beliefs and for their rise to power. 

About four hundred years after the death of Buddha, Kanishka of Gandhara (Kushan dynasty (c. 127–150 CE) arrived in Kashmir to get rid of the Kritya Kings who had abandoned Buddhism and fallen back to older traditions. After he leaves, Kritiyas again gained power.  Kalhana calls Kanishka of turushka race [used in Rajatarangi for Turkic ]. The Chinese histories identify Kushans as Yuezhi, who originally lived in the very western part of Gansu in Northwest China until they were forced to emigrate by the Xiongnu, a confederation comprising other nomadic tribes of the region in around 177 BCE. Among this defeated mass, rose a branch of tribe which defeated Greeks in Bactria and came to be known as Kushanas. In later Persian history produced in Kashmir, the writers, rewriting older myths, were to claim that Kanishka (Kushanas) was deputed by Prophet Solomon or Sulaiman to rule Kashmir. The same Sulaiman who had flown to Baramulla and cleared the gorge to create the valley.   

Kalhana mentions Abhimanyu I as the ruler of Kashmir after Kanishka. Under Abhimanyu  I, the native cult as represented in Nilamata-purana is restored. However, Buddha mentioned as an avatar of Vishnu in Nilamata and celebrated. People practice Naga+Brahminical+Buddhist practices. In this era, Patanjali's Mahabhasya was [re-]introduced in Kashmir by Chanda. 

Far way from Kashmir, but around same time, in East India, under Pushyamitra Shunga (c. 185 – c. 149 BCE), a something similar Brahmin revival is happening. Buddhist texts mentions persecution. Mahabhasya becomes central. 


Hiuen Tsiang ( 602 – 664 A.D.) mentions that in around 280 A.D (six hundred years after the death of Buddha) Kritiyas were again thrown out of power in Kashmir by a warrior tribe. This time a Shakya clan king arrived from Himatala [sue-shan-hai/under the snowy mountain] of Tukhara [Central Asia, central Bactria] to re-establish Dharma in Kashmir.  Shakya/Sakas, originally Scythians from Central Asia, was the same tribe to which belonged Buddha. This clan of Shakya was earlier driven out of Shakya territory and into Bactria during Buddha's time by King Virudhaka of Kosala. Virudhaka's mother was daughter of a Shakya man and a slave women. Virudhaka claimed the Kosala empire by overthrowing his father and then proceeding to annihilate the Shakya clan as a punishment for defrauding him of his legitimacy, for they sent a slave born to marry a Kosala royalty.   

This King of Himatala and his warriors came in disguise of traders to Kashmir. After beheading the king in court, he handed over the country to monks and left. Krityas come to hate the Dharma all the more as more than once they had been defeated. 

Hiuen Tsiang mentions that neighbouring kings held the Kashmiri Nagas in scorn, they refused alliance with them. He adds that they called them, Ki-li-to, translated as Kritya. He says that Kashmir at the time was again in control run of Kritiyas and thus Dharma (Buddhism), flourishing but was in decline. 

Hiuen Tsiang was hosted in Kashmir by King Dwilabhavardhan (600- 636 A.D.) founder of Karkota dynasty. Karkota name coming from name of a mythical Naga serpent deity (a name one among many mentioned in Nilamata). Durlabhavardhana is said to have been the son of Naga. Thus this is considered to be the start of the rule of Naga Karkota dynasty. Coins show him as "Durlabhadeva". We have also possibly a reference to Dwilabhavardhana in a notice of the Chinese annals, which mention Tu-lo-pa as a king of India who controlled the route from China to Ki-pin i.e. the Kabul valley somewhere between 629-647.  Hiuen Tsiang distinctly records that Taksasila (Taxila, now in Rawalpindi district Punjab of Pakistan) was already in ruins in by this time. He writes that Ursaor/Hazara, Simhapura or the Salt range with smaller hill-states of Rajapuri and Parnotsa (modern Punch), had no independent rulers, but were tributary to Kashmir. Interestingly, Rajatarangini tells us that at this time Vaisnavism had a considerable presence in Kashmir among royals. Under Karkota one temple of Shiva was built or renovated. Mahabhasya was once again revived under Jayapida (751-782 A.D.) of Karkota dynasty. 


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Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Zadoo, 1938. Post no. 24

Guest post by Atul Ravi. First photograph taken in his family.

Kashmiri Pandits, 1938
Raghu Nath Zadoo
seated on left wearing a cap

This pic was taken in some studio probably Mahatta but not sure . It was first day of my grandfather's college. He had worn shoes for the first time in his life. The boys all dressed up and decided to get themselves clicked and barely managed to pool in money. It was the first pic in the family and was kept like that in our house. May be that’s how it survived .

My grandfathers name was Sh Raghu Nath Zadoo ( called as Rugh Nath in local lingo ). He was born in Gund Ahalmar Srinagar in 1920 to Smt Yemberzal and my Great Grandfather ( i don’t recall his name ). He was second in three siblings. He was first graduate in the family and completed BA , BT and BEd. He was politically active and was secretary of teachers association in Srinagar. He was also a recipient of Presidents Medal ( Bronze ) for his contribution to Census in Srinagar. He retired in 70s as Tehsil Education Officer. Post retirement he was an administrator in Hindu High School, Gankhan. He was also attached to Ganpatyar Mandir Committee . One particular incident I recall once we left Srinagar, he managed to get the salaries of few months of all teachers from the school and I could see the them thanking him in gratitude.

Post migration, he kept going to Srinagar and stayed in the house with all caution thrown to the wind. He only stopped when he became too old to travel. He lost his senses and was bedridden but in that state too he recalled Srinagar as his only refuge. He used to make gestures to my grandmother to pack and leave for Srinagar. When my uncle after few years went to our home, he saw that Grandfather had made arrangements like coals, wood, his walking stick, some clothes and dry vegetables for his next visit to Kashmir which never happened .

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Pandits as Mushran Monster, legibly


This is in response to "Pandits as pariah, legally" by Haseeb Drabu, in Greater Kashmir, April 30, 2020.

Drabu's piece rests on careful omission of facts and deliberate inclusion of usual bile. The only legible thing in the write-up is the use of word "pariah" in the title, a "persona non grata"...an outcaste...a person who the society eats up and then vomits outside the boundaries...then walls are built to keep them out. Often these walls are perfectly sounding arguments built on solid gleaming bricks of history. And to keep the people inside the wall happy, unquestioning, the tale of "Pandit" monster who has been hounding poor mazloom Kashmiri Muslims from five hundred years ago, is graphically remembered.


Drabu's excuse for writing all this: a patronizing "concern" for the wily Kashmiri Pandits, that he now assumes is somehow is not smart enough. That the community was celebrating as law that was unfair to them. He is not bewildered by it. Because, the reader gets it, if it is bad for them and they are still celebrating, either they are dumb or pure evil. Gist of what already the masses in Kashmir have been sold in the valley till now. Drabu, is making it all the more clear for them. 


But, is it true?



All these years, in all discussions on KP exodus matters, the population of KPs impacted by the secessionist movement, "the migrants" has been measured only by numbers of registered migrant families (there was no individual count). The rule change means nothing to them. They are all accounted. They are the bulk. As for those not registered as migrants...something as election cards, rev. records etc. can be considered. Already something like this is done by Relief Commissioner for former government employees who never registered. As for others, KPs who left in 40s/50s/60s....they didn't even have a chance in previous Kashmir fiefdom setup ...now if they wish they can take the normal root in new law. And they don't need to worry who is married where and to whom. All they need is peace, which of course is another matter and subject to guns of Pakistan.


The concern for KPs shown by Drabu is just a ruse to show to show how KPs are somehow in intellectual pits now.


He should remember that Kashmiri Pandits raised the slogan of "Kashmir for Kashmiris"...not "Kashmir for Kashmiri Pandits"...the present violent mess in the state if because of "Kashmir Banega Pakistan", but you can't talk about it, you be deemed "occupier"/"collaborator" and once you are deemed that, all you can do to redeem yourself is remind the people of Pandit monster.  You can compare the present generation to Pandit Shankar Lal Kaul, Jia lal Kilam and J.L. Jalali, but it should be remembered that these leaders also walked away from Shiekh Abdullah's brand of Kashmiriyat Kashmiri Nationalism as formulated by Sheikh is based on what Orwell called "Negative Nationalism"...it didn't know what it was...until it starts defining what it was against. It is nothing without the "Other". Thus we see it defining itself in beginning as "against landlords"...and eventually morphing into "against pandits" or rather they now proudly say in Kashmir against "certain kind of" pandits, "rest are welcome". Of course, overtime and scenarios the "kind" they are against keeps changing and "they" get to define who they are against whenever they take shelter under nationalism. Not surprisingly no Kashmiri Muslim public intellectual is ready to be "anti-national" to The Cause, great Cause, which is like a shifting goal post based on the political position, physically, the intellectual takes in the power.


When an Kashmiri intellectual is shifting post, one of the clear sign of it is that he will start talking about the history of Dhars, Kouls etc in the valley. It is a tradition coming down from Shiekh himself. It was under him that KPs were shaped as the perfect enemy. It is under his that narratives were created.


The whole idea that KPs as a community were somehow educated elites is itself coloured reading of history. Fact is, according to 1921 census of Kashmir:

73.21 % of KPs were illiterate. That should puncture the myth (that even KPs like to boast): KPs were highly educated class. The edge of education was only with the 9.36% English literate KPs among a total KP population of 55055. That's just 5,154 individuals. To compare: There were 5231 educated KMs in the state with their population of 796392. Of them about 340 knew English. 

The root of this state subject agitation was simple, if one wants to get to the root. British changed the educational setup of whole India. It was designed for creating clerical class. In Punjab, these steps were taken about a decade early. So, there were people who needed jobs. Meanwhile, in Kashmir also, similar steps were taken. So a fresh batch of mass graduates was ready. Kashmiri Pandits, the educated among them, ever depended on state jobs, were first to adopt to the new education system, it was easier for them to break religious barriers to pick up foreign languages in duress for survival, they had done it before. Meanwhile, bulk of KM population remained agriculture driven, men in crafts, shawl trade, craft trade, etc...their religious head put in additional the road blocks. While it is easy to be shock the readers with "There was not a single Muslim student among the 300 odd boys in the C.M.S. School."...someone should shoulder the responsibility of telling the people that this is because the Pandits had lesser issue going to a missionary school while Muslims community even now looks at it with suspicion (why was the school bombed?) Who will tell them that even in the first CMS school in Lahore, in 1849, the first students were KPs? Who will tell them that Samuel Bakkal, a KM convert to christianity, a product of CMS, in 1917 went on to be founder of Mysore Boy Scouts? Who will tell them that in 1912 more Muslims girls from upper cream of the society were reading in the missionary school than Pandit girls because Pandit girls were married off at the age of 13.

Mirwaiz Rasool Shah's school was reaction to Missionary school just as much of Hindu school of Annie Besant was (which opened later), difference being that those religious trust run schools still teach religious doctrines, while Hindu school does not, and is now in "secular" domain. While Rasool Shah's school is lauded (right so), the fact that by 30s Maharaja was giving scholarships to Kashmiri Muslims for higher study, is buried away as it is inconvenient in nationalist narrative as devised in the valley. 

In 1930 when primary education was made compulsory ( order probably signed incidentally by a KP or a non-Kashmiri, the masses cried about zulum of "Zabri school"/forced school ). In 1911, the first batch of Kashmiri graduates was ready (thanks to efforts of a non-Kashmiri Dr. Mitra introducing English and Punjab syllabus in 1890s) but jobs were going to people from outside (Punjab itself was overflowing with graduates). Thus the agitation of 1912. Without the agitation, decades spent in school as an investment would have been wasted for Kashmiri Pandits. They would have been forced to move out of the state...like it happened post 1947...when they were positively discriminated against. Even in 1970s, Pandits were going to supreme courts and proving how the state was passing discriminatory orders in jobs under the freedom granted by article 370. Poet Dina Nath Nadim, too was impacted by these things when he resigned his teacher post in protest in 60s.

The other communities like Dogras were not nominal in this state subject movement, it was not as if scheming Pandits back then thought "okay let's include the Dogras too in the agitation so that it all looks good in post-partition era when Dogras would be out of power." Much against the popular opinion Pandits are not clairvoyant tantric babas who can see future and decide things based on that. At same time the slogan in Jammu was "Jammu for Dogras". The agitation was about community interests, Pandits identified as Kashmiris. 

Drabu causally tells us the shawl-trader princely class, the "cerebral pioneer of the freedom struggle of Kashmir", opposed the state subject law.
What Drabu does not mention (but does mention without saying) here is that religio/political leadership of Kashmiri Muslims asked (and were granted also in part) that rather the non-Kashmiri Muslims (of Punjab) should be given jobs in the state as the state was Muslim majority. They had no interest in "Kashmir for Kashmiris", yet (as KPs, Sikhs, etc were still a sizeable part of what was called "Kashmiri" back then. Today, "Kashmiri" the word is used just to imply Muslims by the progenies of these pioneers of Tahreek. And who do they "other" among them?  The Muslims from plains that they asked for.  

It should be remembered that by this time, Kashmiri Muslims politics was already directed from the Punjab plains. It was the same for Pandit politics, yet Pandits didn't ask that Pandits from other parts of India be given jobs (just like right now Pandits didn't ask for special citizenship rules under UT). For, Pandits of valley, it was a matter of survival in valley, and not some vain agitation over bruised ego. "370" for decades has been sold as an issue about "yazzath"/honor and vague claims of "disenfranchisement". Drabu's claim's "It is tragic because the new domicile law disenfranchises them [Pandits] even more than the Kashmiri Muslims." This would mean Kashmiri Muslims are also getting disenfranchised. Disenfranchised, how? Can't they vote? Real question is will they only vote when they are constantly reminded by two-faced communal politicians, "Vote or pandits will vote and put in their men and then you will be ruled by Hindus, again!"?

What is the charge on Pandit monster? That in 1917, ever selfish Kashmiri Pandits raised the slogan when it suited them. If so, didn't the KM leadership also make their choice based on what was convenient to them at the time? If Ashai's word of “non-mulki” Muslims might be more sympathetic to their plight seems fair, then by same logic if Pandits today claim “non-mulkis” from the plains might be more sympathetic to their plight than the “mulki” KM bureaucracy, why the hue and cry? 

Factually speaking: State Council in 1891 first recognised inhabitants of state as "State Subject" and their right to jobs. Maharaja would talk about it in court. But, nothing was formalised. This triggered the pandit agitation. It was voiced first in writing in 1894 by Saligram Kaul, in Sialkot.

Saligram was brother of Hargogal Kaul, the man who started Sanatan Dharam Sabha. Hargogal Kaul was a man born and brought up in Punjab in a KP family that had settled there in earlier times of persecution. A "non-mulki" as much as a Nehru. Hargogal arrived in state around 1876. He was quickly branded a British agent and rumor started that he had drowned some KMs in a boat. He was a fierce critic of the Maharaja and was even banished from the state for some years. He was charged by Wahabi leader Yahya Shah of hurting religious sentiments of muslims in around 1898. Bazaz's clearly mentions "Kashmir for Kashmiris" started in 1920s. Slogan was coined by Shankerlal Koul. If Drabu has based him opinion based on "Emergence of political awakening in Kashmir" (1986) by Upendra Kishen Zutshi (incidentally a KP ), he already knows all this. 


In 1907, KM representatives while asking for education funds for Islamia school were writing to Maharaja thanking him for protecting them from Arya Samajis , the evil brains behind Congress whose main agenda is Hindustan for Hindus. Sounds familiar?

It must be remembered here that in Glancy Commission, KPs were represented by rationalist, Premnath Bazaz...while the KMs were represented by religious heads and businessmen. Bazaz sided with the KMs. For that Pandits never forgave him. That much is much recounted in Kashmir, but is not remembers that in late 1960s, while in exile in Delhi, Bazaz accepted he was wring, that he gave-in into the obvious communal demands of KM leaders in the commission just because he thought it will create "goodwill" for pandits in the valley. That is all there is to it. Pandits have been trying to gather the currency of "goodwill" for a century now, all while actually losing ground, physically in Kashmir. It was this "goodwill" currency system in which a KP is seen as a good harmless government teacher but an evil bureaucrat ever ready to backstab "Mother Kashmir".

Drabu claims till KMs were no competition to KPs, the KPs took then along. When muslims became competition for jobs KPs went against them. This claim flies in the face of well known facts.

Fact that KP-KM political unity only came about in late 30s after KMs started having their demands met. After there were communal riots, after "Roti-agitation" (1932). A riot for which Kilam was conveniently blamed, triggering it by a speech. Yet, Kilam (along with Kashyap Bandhu and Prem Nath Bazaz) became one of the building block of what later NC sold as "Kashmiriyat". That's how Muslim Conference became National Conference. Bazaz calls it golden era of unity. 


But it was Sheikhs' recourse to communalism post 47 that put an end to it. One can rather claim that KPs were taken for a ride. Their support sought when it was needed, when it was needed to be in good books of Congress and progressives. In the "Naya Kashmir" manifesto a seat was reserved for a KP representative in the assembly. What happened of it? Post independence, KPs, a dispersed minority were actually disenfranchised. Even in areas where they were in majority, delimitation was carefully done to keep them out.  Drabu is taking names of KPs, long dead KPs, without knowing much about them. In 1950, J. L. K. Jalali  (a man who in 1920s waged lone campaign against grain hoarder and black marketers ) wrote about the brutal realities of "Naya Kashmir" and the dangerous form of Nationalism sold by NC to masses, at the core of which was the theory of "evil KP":


"I am a Kashmiri to whom Kashmir has always been the dearest of treasures, and suffered for it. To me the nationalism of today is nothing a garbled version of majority communalism directed towards a definite end."


Telling tales of evil pandits used to a hobby in Kashmir, now it seems to be a profession, particularly of former bureaucrats, courted by center from time to time. There is no other reason why someone, who lives in a community where crackers are burst after terror attacks, would rather than writing about it, would tell those crackers how fanatic Pandits were distributing sweets on abrogation of a law. All these are nothing but attempts to save their own skin but blaming the eternal pandit for all the invisible webs they themselves have woven.


For this class Bazaaz was to write:

"Was the special status and autonomy conferred on the State under Article 370 to pave way for integration of Kashmir with the rest of India by assuring State people of their political, social and cultural freedom or was it meant to allow the State politicians, especially Kashmir Muslim leaders, untrammelled opportunity for exploitation of the ignorant, gullible and backward massed? It was a moot point which probably never occurred to stalwarts of the Congress party in early days of independence when they evinced fullest confidence in the honesty, sincerity and love for teeming millions of National Conference leadership. Capture and enjoyment of power brought an awareness to the favorite leaders that the integration of the State with India, however desirable, was antagonistic to their private interest; no sooner than the objective was achieved, their own importance would cease and opinion of State people would grow in importance and weight.

Therefore, to keep people in darkness and not to make them politically conscious and socially awakened became a vested interest of Kashmir politicians. A policy was evolved to make Kashmir Muslims feel perpetually in terror of the hostile Hindu majority and depend upon the local coreligionist leaders for protection against it. Article 370 was frequently maligned and abused, and conditions were created not to allow it to outgrow its utility as originally intended but to make it a permanent feature of the Indian Constitution. In this atmosphere while the leaders thrived, the position of average Kashmiri worsened. The Central leadership of the Congress was caught in a web woven by the National Conference leaders before they could realize what was happening."

It was again Bazaaz who wrote what the actual cost of KM secessionism would be, or rather the cost of communal majoritarian KM politics, which community will first bear the actual cost of it and how KPs will and must respond.

"There can be no manner of doubt that a majority of Muslims is obsessed with the desire that Kashmir should accede to Pakistan. If that aim is achieved it is obvious Pandits will have to leave their hearth and home and become refugees in India. If there was any doubt about it the Azad Kashmir Radio and, inspired by it, a by-no-means mute section of Muslims has been constantly warning Pandits that the Valley is bound to join Pakistan so they should take time by forelock and be ready to depart. What alternative do these threatenings leave to Pandits but to determinedly oppose the demand and tenaciously fight back with all resources available to them. It becomes the foremost duty of even the liberal minded Pandit democrat to defeat the Muslim purpose ; for self-effacement is no part of the philosophy of liberalism or democracy. Muslim politicians shall have to propose a solution which should be acceptable to the non-Muslims. It is well to remember that the Indian subcontinent was partitioned because the minority wanted it so. Had the issue been left to the vote of the majority (right of self-determination) the unity of the subcontinent would have been maintained. As long as the Muslims insist upon the right of secession Pandits will be morally right and politically justified in opposing the demand. This may appear unreasonable to the Muslim politicians but they will ignore it at their own cost."

A reminder: 98% of Pandits today live in places (all over the world) where there are "immigrant" yet equal citizens. It comes from present. The world as it is. Not as it was. The progenies of Kaul, Kilam, Jalali, Bazaz are all outside Kashmir. Probably as divergent in their individual political stands at their ancestors were. But, they are all outside. There was there becomes of decades and decades of "othering". 

While Sanatan Sabha, Aryan Sabha hold no sway over Pandits today, the KMs still rally under new Ashais (who cozy upto Imran Khan now) and Mirwaizs...while politicians like Drabu try to stay relevant in that same eco system (as some sort of rational voice) by deploying three hundred year old terms like “Karkun Bhatte” and “Bhasha Bhatte" in front of a young muslim audience in valley who hasn't lived next to a Bhatta in three decades, their minds getting used to the shape of Pandit Mushran, which they now know comes in these two medieval flavors.

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In Kashmiri folktables "mushran" was an evil spirit that came in the shape of a dirty old man and will a parental hug, suck your soul, cause slow death.
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