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:  




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