Kashmir Needs A “PETER”!
By Mohammad Ashraf
31 December, 2014
(Like Holland which is supposed to have been saved once by Peter of Haarlem, Kashmir badly needs someone to plug the hole in its protective dyke!)
During our school days we used to read the story of “Peter” of Haarlem, a Dutch boy who once saved his country from getting submerged by the mighty sea. Holland is situated below the sea level which is kept out by dykes. Any breach in the dykes would immediately submerge the whole land. The legend goes that one day a school boy, “Peter” of Haarlem whose father had been looking after sluices, while going along the dykes in the evening heard the sound of water trickle. On having a closer look he found that there was a hole in the dyke through which water was trickling in. This hole had to be plugged as otherwise the trickle would cause a breach and his country would be submerged. He put his finger in the hole to stop the trickle. Whole night he stayed there alone as no body passed from that side and he was afraid of leaving the trickle unattended. In the morning when he was almost numb with cold a clergy man passed by and saw him. He fetched help to plug the hole and thus Haarlem was saved from submerging by this brave boy.
Incidentally, Kashmir has also been quite often protected by the natural dykes of the mighty Himalayan Mountains from outside marauders that have always been eyeing its natural beauty. From time to time these external aggressors have succeeded in breaching these mountainous dykes and pillaged the country. For almost four centuries it has remained under external rulers. During the modern times, natural or manmade dykes hardly protect a people. Modern technology breaches all barriers. Now, instead of the mighty tides of water, people are usually swept away by human waves generated by economic means. It was to safeguard the poor inhabitants from this possibility that the last Maharaja of Kashmir, Hari Singh had enacted the state subject law thereby prohibiting outsiders from buying or owning any land here. This political dyke put up by the Maharaja has to a large extent prevented Kashmiris from being swept away from their land. There was a possibility of a major breach in the dykes in 1947 when tides from the two newly created countries swept over Kashmir. The intervention of the world body for peace, the UN Security Council put up a dyke which has so far held and saved Kashmiris from being completely submerged in the ocean of humanity that the sub-continent represents.
The Indian side drilled a hole in the UN dyke called Article 370 and started trickling in various laws to take over complete control of the state. Sheikh Abdullah put his finger in the hole to prevent the complete merger. However, unlike Peter he could not stay there all night long and the water which had started like a trickle turned into a torrent sweeping away every semblance of Kashmir’s unique identity. There have been many attempts to turn this hole into a complete breach. However, so far the people have been resisting the complete take over. Recently, a new tide has risen which has already reached the foothills of the dyke. Many attempts are being made to turn the hole into a breach. Permutations and combinations are being made to sweep Kashmiris off their feet.
Kashmir is at present desperately in need of someone like the “Peter of Haarlem” who can put his finger in the hole in the dyke and stem the impending flood. Will any of the Kashmiri politicians act like the Peter of Haarlem? Will all the people come to his help to save Kashmir being overwhelmed and swept away by the tides coming in from both the directions? These are the questions in every Kashmiri mind right now! God alone knows the answer!
Mohammad Ashraf, I.A.S. (Retired) Former Director General Tourism, Jammu & Kashmir
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