Kashmir; A peek into the Sangh’s sense of history. It’s flawed to the core

Gilgit-Baltistan borders China, Afghanistan and Kashmir (image credit: Al Jazeera)

It doesn’t take rocket science to point out the glaring loopholes in the understanding of history by the ideologues of the Sangh pariwar. Nowhere else is their misreading of history more manifestly absurd than in their understanding of the circumstances that had gone into the coming about of Partition as a momentous event in the history of the subcontinent. Without going into the litany of factors that had culminated into this cataclysmic upheaval, suffice it to say that pinning it down to the hypothetical machinations and manipulations of the Muslim League and its leadership is a premise that doesn’t stand historical scrutiny but that surely suits the Sangh’s political/sectarian agenda. How pathetic that many other political parties including the Congress finds themselves on the same page, at least on this count!

However, far more grotesque is how the Sangh ideologues betray signs of suffering from a rare case of a disorder that manifests itself as a symptom in entertaining ‘delusions of grandeur’. This is evident in the manner in which those owing allegiance to the Sangh are seen to wax eloquent both in their writings and during debates conducted by Sangh-inspired anchors on various Indian news channels. It is worth noting how one is treated to a never-ending series of nauseating monologues of balderdash mouthed by these old, retired, jobless, moth eaten ‘Kashmir watchers’ including some army generals who are called upon to discuss Kashmir on these news channels where they betray an atrocious lack of understanding of the K-issue. How else would one account for those afflicted with this condition, fancying hypothetical visions of an Akhand Bharat involving a reversal of Partition whereby the sovereign states of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka would reunite with India in the form of a single entity to be called Hindustan? This is what the Sanghi ‘genius’ Indresh Kumar had averred during his address to the audience at a recently held conclave of the Sangh bhakts. In the same breath, he goes on to question the wisdom of article 370 being enshrined in the Indian constitution, justifying its repeal on the ludicrous ground that “If a Kashmiri can buy property in Mumbai, why can’t a Mumbaikar do so in Kashmir”? This is laughable, to say the least, considering that he surely does not seem to have bothered to acquaint himself with the rudiments of history that would have taught him a lesson or two in the logic of Partition and the principles underlying the accession of states to the union of India. It was under these circumstances that the said article had found its way into the constitution, precisely in order to thwart the possibility of the J&K state retaining an independent status post Partition. Further, its inclusion in the Indian constitution and the question of accession of the state to the union of India were mutually agreed to be subject to a final arbitration by reference to the right of self determination to be granted to the people of the state who were to exercise that right within a period of five years after what was sealed, purely and legally, as temporary accession.

Equally pathetic is how the Sangh looks at the Kashmir problem having been left as an ‘ugly legacy as a result of silly and inept handling’ of it by Pt. Nehru, as they put it. Their plea that ‘it was Pt Nehru who could have clinched the issue once and for all by forcibly taking over the entire state of J&K without the need for bringing the UN into the picture’ strains credulity. Of a piece with this line of thinking is their constant grouse that ‘there was absolutely no need for article 370 being included in the Indian Constitution, if Nehru had so wished’!

For their better understanding and information, a few important snippets of history are in order. The ineluctable fact remains that much as he might have so wished, Nehru had neither the locus standi nor the justification to do so as was dictated by the logic of the Partition. No doubt he had inveigled the then tallest leader of Kashmir Sheikh Mohd Abdullah into acquiescing in to the annexation of Kashmir to India which as per the Partition plan was supposed to merge with Pakistan. Truth to be told, the Sheikh did cave in, but only after getting Nehru to agree to a quid pro quo in the form of the above stated promises including a pledge for the right of Kashmiris to decide their own fate through a plebiscite. Under these circumstances, Nehru obviously couldn’t have done better than do what he actually did insofar as his deep but irrational desire to annex Kashmir to India was concerned. It is a different matter though that in getting SMA to do what he did and then by reneging on what he had promised, Nehru had merely ended up sowing the seeds for a gigantic political crisis in the state, and by implication, in the entire region that unfortunately doesn’t seem to show signs of ebbing away any time soon. How pathetic that despite his skulduggery in somehow manipulating the annexation of Kashmir with India- which, they should know couldn’t have been achieved through legitimate means – Nehru is being ridiculed by the Sangh Pariwar ‘for not having done enough to clinch the deal’! They don’t seem to know enough to understand that he surely couldn’t have done better than what he actually did to achieve the impossible task of annexing Kashmir to India, albeit purely on a temporary basis. For all there is to it, all this goes to expose the myth of infallibility of Pt. Nehru as a statesman insofar as his dubious role in enacting the annexation drama involving Kashmir is concerned. Which is why he has ended up courting controversy on both sides of the divide: on the one hand, Sanghis castigating him for what they perceive as a docile role he had played in this drama and, on the other, being seen as the real villain of the piece by all Kashmiris, and rightly so, for the simple reason that he did all this in a manner that lacked honesty and transparency, even as he had no compunction in betraying them by going back on his promises. Here, I should hasten to add that apart from the monumental mess that he has bequeathed to us in Kashmir, that should not be allowed to take away from Nehru’s signal contribution to the country on so many other fronts, including in education, science and technology, economy and foreign affairs. It’s a pity that the current Sangh-inspired leadership at the Centre is unwilling to take note of these momentous contributions of Pt. Nehru to India which it can’t even begin to conceive of as being vital for the growth and development of the country.

This woeful lack of a sense of history on the part of the Sanghi think tank does not end there. Come to think of it, their pathological obsession with this stupid thirst for trivia involving renaming of cities, towns and heritage symbols is part of the same damning ignorance of history. A direct consequence of this misplaced sense of history has been a climate of intolerance in the country which has been visible in so many cases of lynching of members of certain communities on the one hand and of demonising and harassing of Kashmiris throughout mainland India, on the other. Contrast this with the manner in which people from other states and from other faiths seeking livelihood in Kashmir are treated by the locals that bespeaks the spirit of tolerance and mutual co-existence that is so central to the ethos of Kashmiris. Some days back as I was returning home in the evening, a 65-year+ looking old man walking on a pair of crutches was desperately looking for a ride outside the university campus and as I stopped my car, he quickly jumped in and began to profusely thank me for the gesture. From his accent I could quickly gather that he was from outside the state and, as indeed it turned out, he was here as a ‘professional’ beggar who had been coming here regularly for the past 10 years. Upon being asked why did he have to come here all the way from his native place in U.P. for begging, he said “Yahan ke log bahut rahamdil hain aur gariboon ki khoob madad kartein hain. Apne haan ya tou log daetain hi nahin ya agar daetain bhi hain tou mushkil se ek-dou sikke!”: ‘Here people are compassionate and are always keen to help the poor. Back home, they don’t spend on the poor, except in rare cases where you get a maximum of a few coins as charity’. As he said, he would earn something to the tune of 18,000-20,000/- every single month during his 6 month stay in Kashmir and that that was enough for him to look after his family back home. Further it had been through these earnings that he had also managed to marry off three of his children in recent years.

The point is that whether it is the beggars, the artisans, the labourers or small/big time businessmen coming here in their tens of thousands from different parts of India, they find this place the safest among those in India where they go to work, regardless of their caste, creed, faith or religious denomination. This thought is invariably shared also by a whole lot of tourists who keep visiting here both from within India and abroad. Lo and behold, it is these kind hearted, compassionate Kashmiris who are branded as communalists, traitors and desh drohis in the rest of India and treated with such indignity and contempt. Contrast this with how Kashmiris were treated in mainland India in the aftermath of the recent Pulwama attack that had led to unprecedented panic in their ranks which had occasioned their return to the valley in their thousands. Wondering about all these and similar other sinister developments happening around the country? No issues- these are nothing but inevitable consequences of a misreading of history!