Kashmir: A Repetition Of History!
By Mohammad Ashraf
28 December, 2014
(Eighth century A.D. or 1953 or 2014, the story is same. Only the characters have changed!)
Kashmir is the only place in the sub-continent which has the earliest written history from the ancient times till twelfth century A.D. Kalhana’s Rajtarangani has a written record of Kashmir’s history from the earliest times, almost for 5000 years! The earlier part of it is more or less mythological but the last couple of thousand years are verifiable with the remains of historical buildings and the monuments of those periods. Sir Aural Stein who had translated this record of historical events from Sanskrit to English has verified it through his memoir on the ancient geography of Kashmir. One interesting aspect of this history is the regular and continuous palace intrigues which took place in ancient Kashmir at the time of royal succession involving the crowning of a King or a Queen. The powerful feudal landlords called Damaras had a decisive hand in the final selection. There is an episode when they were unable to choose and it was decided to crown the first person who enters the Kashmir valley from outside! Well, the situation is almost the same now!
In spite of the fact that the state now boasts of a democratic set up, the streaks of royalty continue to be strong in the character of Kashmiri politicians of all shades and colours. We do not really have a democracy but instead a nepotic-feudocracy! Instead of the earlier princes and princesses, we now have sons and daughters in the business of governance. In the recent election, the people have given a real headache to all the politicians in regard to formation of a government. They are truly between the devil and the deep sea. The present day Damaras are very active again. The million dollar question is whom to make the new King of Kashmir and how? There are many permutations and combinations but first question is who should be the “King”? Most seem to agree on the veteran politician Mufti Sayed. As a journalist has observed, the ball of government is in his court!
The three mainstream political parties claiming to be secular need to cobble out a combination to stem the onslaught of the declared religion based party. This can only be done if they rise above their individual egos and are sincere in ameliorating the lot of the common people. At this juncture, their decision is not only for the future of the state of J & K but for the entire region. Taking the overall scenario of the sub-continent in to consideration, the final scene in J & K can be a turning point as regards the tides of religious violence which are trying to sweep the entire area. On the other side innocent children have been mercilessly butchered in the name of God! On this side, people are being forced to reconvert from their practising religion to restore India to its ancient Hindu “glory”! There is an urgent need on both sides to put a stop to this fanaticism. These violent tides which have risen from the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean can only be stopped by the will of the common people. The majority of the people in the state of J & K who came out to vote have given their verdict in this regard notwithstanding the fact that the population in certain areas have been swayed by the fanatically propagated religious sentiment.
It is observed by some quarters that for any success in implementing their agendas regarding the improvement in the daily living of the people and the long term realisation of the peoples’ aspirations of a final solution, the rulers in Delhi have to be supportive and not antagonistic to the set up in the state. Yes, it is true but only for the people who are installed by Delhi and not for those who claim to be elected by the free will of the people. In fact, Delhi is looking for a person to do their bidding as in 1953! The peoples’ representatives who have been sincerely elected can take Delhi head on if it tries to scuttle their people friendly agendas. This has been amply demonstrated by similar set ups in other regions. If they are not allowed to implement what they have promised to the people in their manifestos, they can always go back to the people. The only rider is that one has to be sure that these representatives have come up to sincerely and honestly serve the people and not because of their lust for power! Time only can reveal the truth!
Mohammad Ashraf, I.A.S. (Retired), Former Director General Tourism, Jammu & Kashmir
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