Kashmir: Past and Present

Mehboob MakhdoomiArticles Comments

“Kashmir belongs to India as it was a Hindu place. Don’t you believe me? Go read the Rajtarangni”. “How can you say it has never been India as ancient temples still exist even in Muzaffarabad”. These are the arguments, passionately put forward, by the majority of Indians as well as our exiled Pandits, when they are asked about the current conflict in Kashmir. They, by default, think that India is Hindu & Hindu is India.

For God sake, what has Rajtarangni to do with the people of Kashmir’s right to choose their own political destiny? Rajtarangni tells me about my Hindu ancestors. Who denies that? What implications does it have on our aspirations? Moreover, India accuses M.A Jinnah for having created Pakistan on communal lines and boasts about its own secular constitution. Then, why is Kashmir’s history of religiosity being dug out & deliberated upon? Even if we accept this argument of religion to determine our nationality, then is not the current religion of Kashmir’s majority more eligible to do so, than the religion our great forefathers might have practiced? Such thinkers should realize that bringing in Rajtarangni and our ancient religiosity makes their position even more awkward and their argument proves to be fallacious & self-defeating.

Their unnecessary complication of a simple series of events, is dumbfounding. Let me remind them that there was no nation-state called India till August 15th 1947. It was a vast area, ruled by local Kings and then united by the British imperialism. And this entity was divided in 1947 into two nation-states – Pakistan and India, which stands officially ratified by the Government of India. It got further divided when Bangladesh was born in 1971. So, when the present day nation-state was itself born in 1947, how would Kashmir’s religious belief of 11th & 12 century, be a proof of the ever Indian-ness of Kashmir?

By this nonsensical logic, India should trample over Nepal’s sovereignty as it still has more than 80% Hindu population. It should lay claim on Mauritius which is 50% Hindu with temples all over. It can annex Fiji from Oceania which is 35% Hindu and Guyana from South America with about 33%, before it talks about Kashmir. It should also not have accepted the legality of Pakistan & Bangladesh as well, as Hinduism once flourished in these countries as well.

Besides, some Pandits say ”This place (Kashmir) belongs to us (Pandits) as Kashmir was once the center of Hinduism, without any Muslim”. How can the change of my religion rob me off of the ownership of my land, citizenship & ethnicity? I am still the same person. If I draw a parable, it’s like, I own a piece of land in Kashmir as a Muslim and if I am baptized tomorrow or become a Hindu, my land would no longer belong to me. It would go to the Muslims of Kashmir and I won’t even remain a Kashmiri, anymore. Does this make sense? What if I reply saying that as per my belief Prophet Adam (A.S) is the first human to set foot on earth, and he was a Muslim. Can I, then, claim the whole planet? I have been told by my elders that Pandits have been an intelligent community. I cherish it as they are my equals in Kashmir.

However, some people at times, create doubts in my mind regarding this, by confidently presenting aforementioned arguments. We must collectively realize that the roots of the Kashmir conflict do not lie in Rajtarangni but in the political developments of the recent past. So, the justice demands that this apparently intractable quagmire be solved in its relevant historical perspective. Some friends accuse us of exodus in 1989. Much has been said about it from both sides. I don’t want to drag that in here as it would be irrelevant but logically speaking what happened or did not happen in 1989 can not, by any chance, change what transpired in 1947. It cannot have the retrospective effect. We may discuss 1989 separately with an open mind and open heart but history is history and its willful distortion is its travesty. The field of academics must be devoid of vengeance.

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Mehboob Makhdoomi