Sunday, 17 March 2013

Let us forget the "Day We Want to Forget” - Response to piece by Dr Altaf Hussain

Kashmir Times published an opinion article on 16 March 2013 “Sale of Kashmir: A Day We Want to Forget” - Dr Altaf Hussain Para. The author of the article seems to have made a very selective reading of Indian History while making his assertion about the “darkest day in Kashmiri history” and his assertion that “a group of otherwise unrelated tracts were converted to form a Princely State, which had nothing in common except a ruler imposed on it, purely for political considerations”. It does not serve truth because many rulers in Indian history had formed several states by conquest or treaties. This is precisely how the Mughal Empire also came into existence. Another fact of the matter is that the strategy used by the British to extract rent from Indian rulers and conquer territory was pretty much the same throughout India. It is described in one line as "Divide and Rule".  Story of their capture of Punjab and treating Jammu and Kashmir as a vassal state was no exception and similar history can be found starting with the British capture of Bengal with the aid of Mir Jaffar in 1757.
People of the country have moved beyond the past because the past rulers and the British intrigues of the past are no longer relevant. After all every community or ethnic group of people can harp on the excess committed by some Maharaja or Nawab or Emperor depending on how you want to read history and how far back in history you want to go. Each one of us be it Punjabis, Gujratis, Sikhs, Bengalis, Rajputs, Malyalis or so on can cite from history how one ruler was replaced with next and how he was worse than the last and so on. The British ruled us by dividing us on religious and ethnic lines and left a parting gift of Partition of subcontinent on communal lines which lead to a million plus people who were otherwise living peacefully together getting killed in communal riots.
It is relevant to note that the independence of the entire subcontinent of India from the European colonizers was brought about through what is known as the Indian Independence movement. The entire population of the subcontinent became free thanks to that. The movement for creation of Pakistan was not a movement of independence of Pakistan it was a communal movement for separation and we all know the consequence. It is hence important to note that the future of the people of what is left of India lies in the best traditions of secularism, tolerance and respect for law. There is noting to be gained from the kind of article Dr Altaf Hussain Para has produced except to inflame passions and create regional divide in the minds of the people of State of J&K in terms of ethnicity and religion.
The state of Jammu and Kashmir on our side of LOC is a single democratic political state unit, people belonging to all ethnic groups, all religions groups are equal and have equal right to life and liberty. The present phase of violence which started in '89 will in larger context only be seen as blip in our history of coexistence in peace. Peace can only prevail in J&K and by extension in rest of India through secular traditions, tolerance and respect of law and constitution, which is the only guarantee for safety and prosperity of all communities including minority communities in any part of the country.
The Idea of India and the legal representation of the Idea of India which is the constitution of India is what guarantees safety and prosperity to any kind of minority or majority population in the subcontinent. From Afghanistan to Myanmar only India stands out as a country where by constitution and law minority rights are protected, stresses to this guarantee in the form of operational weakness of our democratic and administrative institutions not withstanding. No other country has managed to do this. Hopefully the people of J&K and the readers of Kashmir Times will take a more holistic approach to our shared History rather than make selective reading from it for narrow political motives.

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