f my long career in govt. service spanning over three decades in different Districts of the state, I remember some episodes from my interfacing with a cross section of the people of Kashmir and want to share these with the readers. The episodes may be deeply etched in the memory of my contemporaries but also deserve to be recorded for some benefit to the community. The episodes seem incredulous but are sincere records of facts and figures. I print the same to lay the record straight and help understand the gravity of the conditions that were allowed to build up and drift to the extremes from where it was not possible to redeem the Valley back to normalcy with any political, administrative or legislative means. The signs were clear and distinct for all to see, but were ignored and overlooked by all stake holders. This attitude lead to the creation and accumulation of a political mess and administrative chaos for about six decades which allowed anti-national and anti-social elements to nourish and grow. They were further able to occupy the administrative and political vacuum that was created in the state by Pakistan and its Agencies.They misguided and mislead the people of the Valley to fall into insurrection and revolt for causes that were never genuine and reasons that were always imaginary and fabricated.
1. Kashmiris as a whole are great rumor mongers. We cherish rumors and have perfected rumor mongering to an art form. There is a fable which states that in good old days a man crossing over Zainakadal (a famous bridge linking southern and northern bank of Vitasta) started gazing down the water of the Jhelum that was flowing down the abutments of the bridge. After gazing for a while he started wailing loudly,”GAI-HA ,GAI-HA,”meaning she has gone, she has flown down under. In no time all the people crossing the bridge and around started to converge wailing loudly together, “GAI-HA GAI-HA” till it became a tumultuous roar. They say the entire vicinity came to a standstill all roaring” GAI-HA, GAI-HA” meaning it is going and flowing down. No one knew or inquired as to what had gone down the stream while every one was crying the same refrain. By chance a Bhatta “Kashmiri Pandit”happened to come by. He was amused and agitated to watch the commotion but was unable to know its reason. He squeezed himself in to the sea of people and pushed ahead to the man who was the hero of the scene. On reaching him he asked him as to what had gone down or flowed down the river. The man who was in tattered robes grimaced a mischievous laugh and said “It was my spit” All the tension of the mob dissolved and people felt ashamed for their stupidity and vanished from the scene within no time. The man creating this hoax was found to be insane. Yet the episode has a lesson for us all that we believe and groom rumors without going into causes.
2. Sheikh Abdullah, like others, after his education was hunting for a Govt. job in the Valley which was the only sector providing employment in the state then. When he could not get a suitable job as his peers did also not, he joined the Muslim Conference which was the mainline political formation in the valley to organize and lead Muslims of the Valley. Its main role was to galvanize political opinion of the Valley and oppose the monarchy in the state and install democracy. Pandit Nehru realized the importance of the Sheikh in the Valley and wanted to woo him to the national mainstream of National Congress. It is said that it was on behest of Pandit Nehru that Sheikh had agreed to convert Muslim Conference to National Conference to broad base its appeal and widen its spread through all three Divisions of the State. Thus National Conference became the main political forum of the state which claimed to represent the interests of all three Divisions. Pandit Nehru wanted National Conference to grow and bloom as a secular party appealing to all sections of people of the state. To a limited extent he succeeded till Sheikh started hobnobbing for the mirage of Independent Kashmir with mysterious forces the details of which are wrapped in history sheets of the State. The irony of ironies was that the same National Conference turned into a Kashmir centric communal party post 1953 with extra territorial allegiances towards army ruled and cleric dominated Pakistan It even morphed itself into JK Plebiscite Front to work and plead for a plebiscite in the Valley alone on religious grounds as the two other Divisions of the State were and are not enamored of this political mirage which deludes more and achieves less.
3. Before the grant of Independence to both India and Pakistan in 1947 Mohd Ali Jinnah the founder of Pakistan made hectic efforts to win Sheikh Abdullah’s sympathies who was the most popular leader of the Valley, for the cause of a theocratic state and to join Pakistan. He therefore sent a high level delegation of Muslim leaders from Pakistan to negotiate and convince the Sheikh to join Pakistan. Negotiations were held at Mujahid Manzil the epicenter of all political activities of the Valley. Eminent persons like Moulana Masudi the ideologue of National Conference, Bakshi Gulam Mohd the greatest builder of the State, Mirza Afzal Beg the evil genius of the Sheikh, GM Sadiq the shrewd statesman of the State and Mohi-ul-din Karra political Robin hood of the State among others represented the Kashmir side. It is said that when negotiations were on during a cold autumn Kashmiri night, Bakshi felt sleepy and dozed off. After some time when he woke up the negotiations had completed. He wanted to know as to what had been decided regarding the fate of the State. He was informed that National Conference had rejected the proposal of Jinnah to join Pakistan on religious grounds alone. It is said that Bakshi stood up and asked all present if they were convinced of the decision. On being told that they had decided to accede to India after due consideration of merits it is believed that Bakshi asked all present to consider and reconsider. Once a final decision was taken he would be the last person to reconsider and budge, he declared. He proved true to his statement and was the only Kashmiri leader to hold to his conviction. All others wavered at one stage or the other with a desire to negotiate for more.
4. During the first tenure of the Sheikh as the Prime Minister of the State (as the Chief Minister was called then) the avenues of employment to the people were available in the Govt. sectors only. Kashmiri Pandits as a legacy from the past had learnt to endow their children with sufficient technical and professional accouterments even while denying basic necessities of life to themselves and their families. They would send their children outside the State for higher education as these facilities were not available in the State then. One such Kashmiri Pandit boy who had recently returned after getting an M.Eng. with distinction was in search of a job. He sought an appointment with the Sheikh which was quite possible then as technically endowed people were in great demand, being in short supply more than six decades back. It is believed that when that boy met the Sheikh he got the greatest shock of his life. As he pleaded for a suitable job in the State with Sheiikh he was informed by the Sheikh in livid words that he could not be appointed in the State because he could find a job at any place in the country as a Hindu boy while as a Kashmiri Muslim had only Kashmir to look for. This way The Sheikh himself started the process of alienation and isolation of Kashmiri Muslims from the national mainstream. As for the rejected Kashmiri Pandit boy he is reported to have retired as Chairman of a mighty big Central Govt department. Whose services were passed by the State became an asset for the Centre.
5. After Pakistani tribals and regulars aggressed into the Valley post Independence of the country, Maharaja Hari Singh ruler of the State signed the Instrument of Accession with Govt. of India in return for military and financial aid to fight off Pakistani aggression. The said dejure accession was endorsed by defacto stamp of approval of the mainline political party of National Conference when Sheikh Abdullah endorsed the accession in a mammoth public meeting at the historical Lal Chowk in Srinagar by joining hands with Pandit Nehru. He recited a Persian couplet which said that from now onwards I am you and you are me. No power on earth can separate us from our eternal embrace, before entire population of the Valley which had converged to witness this historical meet of two giants. The couplet sung by the Sheikh in Persian further stated that “As you are the soul and I am the body. And you are the mind and I am the heart” to the eternal uproar of approval of Muslims of the Valley who had gathered. The said verbal approval of Accession of the State was subsequently ratified by the Constituent Assembly of the State elected democratically through adult suffrage.
6. But immediately after the Sheikh became the Prime Minister relations started to soar between New Delhi and the Sheikh. The Sheikh started to see blue in all things Indian. In his infamous speech at RS Pora he wanted to revise and recast his views when he said that all elements viz:-mountains, rivers, glaciers and roads of the State were leading to Pakistan and so he could not deny the people of the Valley their choice of joining the chaotic and theocratic Pakistan. It was indeed the fall of the Kashmiri titan for reasons which will always remain shrouded in the dusty pages of Kashmir history.
7. When Sheikh Abdullah who was the Prime Minister of the State was sent into wilderness and his own lieutenant Bakshi Gulam Mohamad became the Prime Minister in 1953. Bakshi had to face tough opposition and public wrath in the Valley. But he made his regime popular by introducing a basket of people friendly social and public welfare schemes for health, education, employment, industries, tourism, trade and agriculture. A period of development and prosperity was ushered in the State for which the skeletal media of the times started to support him. It was in one such media meets that a journalist asked him as to how many people (what number) were with him. He answered in his typical pragmatic way,” Forty Lakhs” (.The population of the State at that time was forty lakhs).The journalist persisted to embarrass the Bakshi by asking him as to what was the number of people with the Sheikh who was in incarceration .The Bakshi again replied, ”Forty lakhs.” The journalist was baffled with the answer. So he wanted to befuddle the Bakshi and asked him what was the total population of the State. Bakshi again answered with mischief in his eyes,” Forty Lakhs’ When the journalist further persisted as to how was it possible, the Bakshi had the last laugh. He had indeed stated the cardinal character of Kashmir politics which has remained the same since all Kashmiris are with all parties and views. But at the same time, all Kashmiris are with no party. or definite view. It is whatever side of the bread is buttered and this has been proved time and again. It was proved in 1953 when the Sheikh was deposed. It was proved when Bakshi was installed. It was proved when Bakshi was removed. It was proved when Sadiq was installed. It was again proved when Sheikh was reinstated. It was proved when Sheikh died and his son Farooq was crowned. It was yet again demonstrated when Farooq was deposed by his brother in law Gul Shah. It was again proved when Farooq was re-crowned after 1987 elections. It was so when Jag Mohan took the reins as the Governor in 1989. It happened the same way when All Parties Hyrrayat Conference was created. It happened when terrorists and militants ran the roost post 1989. It repeated when PDP with Congress was voted to power. It happened when SAY Land Row was fanned in the valley. It happened when SAYS Committee was formed in Jammu to counter the pressure from the Valley to cancel the land allotment to the Shrine Board by the State Government. It again repeated when National Conference and Congress were voted back to power in 2008 by the same people of the Valley who had challenged the combination only some months back. So the incredible truth propounded by Bakshi some six decades back is still a stark reality of Kashmir scene that Kashmiris are with all and with none simultaneously.
8. Pakistan was all along fanning the revolt of dissent in the Valley by inciting gullible Muslims against Indian rule. Causes of dissent and separatism were always attributed to religious differences and system contradictions prevailing in two countries. Regular attempts were made by Pakistan and its agencies like ISI and the Army to push in infiltrators in the Valley in particular and the State in general to provoke people to revolt and seek separation from India. These armed infiltrations were made regularly which were however fought back by security agencies with active support of the Muslims of the Valley. A major attempt at massive infiltration was made by Pakistan in 1965 when infiltrators were pushed up to the heart of Srinagar in which police headquarters was sieged by Pakistani infiltrators for a couple of days besides attacks on other targets. It took a Herculean effort to repulse the attackers and clear Police Headquarters from their siege. The infiltrators had taken shelter around police Headquarters at Batamaloo Srinagar, in the surrounding residential houses. While fleeing from their positions under heavy pressure of security forces these infiltrators did not hesitate to carte blanch burn the town due to their vengeance for failure. Pakistan shamelessly declared through its mouthpiece of Azad Kashmir Radio that the receding infiltrators had razed the township of Batamaloo. All Kashmiri Muslims despised this anti-people move of Pakistan. While on the other hand, the Govt. of India rebuild the Batamaloo Township on modern lines with full civic amenities and other modern facilities.
9. The Hair of prophet Mohammad which is installed in a glass and golden vial in the holy shrine of Dargah located on the bank of Dal Lake on the outskirts of Srinagar is held in great reverence by the Muslims of the Valley. Regular prayer congregations are held at the shrine to seek blessings of the prophet by occasional exhibition of Moi Muqadas (Holy Hair). Partcipation of Muslims in such exhibitions were and are always acts of deep faith and devotion. In the year 1963 under a conspiracy hatched by Pakistan with connivance of some local moles an attempt was made to dislodge the Holy Hair from its place of rest to foment revolt and insurrection by the local Muslims of the Valley on this highly sensitive issue. Immediately on learning of the mischief entire Muslims of the Valley congregated at Hazratbal to wail and weep the loss. People took control of affairs and Administration went into hiding. There were no traces of law and order in the Valley which lead to civil chaos and social anarchy. It was a highly emotive issue which needed handling. It was the cream of Indian bureaucracy and political leadership which handled the situation with scientific precision to diffuse a highly volatile situation which could disrupt into civil turmoil and administrative collapse. The details of the probe could not be made public because they had extra-territorial links and ramifications. Peace in the Valley was restored only after a galaxy of saints and clerics of the Valley certified the genuineness of the recovered Holy Hair which was believed to have been only displaced by the miscreants to foment anti national hysteria. It was an act of great statesmanship demonstrated by Govt.of India to have redeemed the Valley from the brink of civil revolt. Even Kashmiri Muslims hailed the sensitive handling of this highly volatile situation that was created in the Valley by the enemies of India but refused to believe that it was Pakistan that had hatched and executed the plan in order to try and dismember the Valley from India.
(To be continued)
*P.N.Ganjoo was born in a modest Kashmiri family about 7 decades ago, lost his father early and was raised by his honest, hardworking mother. With her efforts he received his education in Srinagar and went on to serve in various Government Departments before retiring as a senior grade KAS officer.
Presently he is working on his varied interests besides being a consulting Director of a software services company.
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Dear Mr. Ganjoo I found your article interesting but at the sametime self contradictory. In the very first point you say that Kashmiri's are Gossip Mongers and from there on you give details of a lot of incidents and all details begin with a common phrase "It is said that.." be it the boy in with M.E. degree or a Bakshi dozzing off in the meeting.After I read through the artcile I was filled with a doubt that : "It is said that" we are gossip mongers can I really believe what I am reading??
Added By vishal Bagh