Kashmir: Forgetting History
By Abdul Majid Zargar
14 June, 2013
In response to controversial revelations of Historical events made by A.G.Noorani at the Silver Jubilee Function Of Daily “Greater Kashmir”, many columnists wrote articles, some in denouncement and few in praise. Those falling in the latter category appear to be uninformed of the historical events unfolding themselves at the critical moments of history in 1947 and seem to be guided by a dedicated agenda to distort history. Given a chance they would not only like to re-write history but re-right it. After all trying to fix history is a work in progress throughout the world.
But there has been an another class of writers, who without taking a definite stand, have advised us to forget history and take care of the future. Only. This write-up is essentially a rejoinder to such writers. It makes an attempt to evaluate the argument that individuals and nations must forget their history.
First of all -a question to these learned writers. Since our history spreads over to thousands of years, Which part of it, would they like us to forget? Do they want us to forget the period of white huns, Mongols and Khoks or of Mughals, Sikhs or Dogras. In the current context, which is the resolution of Kashmir issue, do they mean period from 1947 till now to be erased from our memories ? And whether they are aware of the difference between “History” & “History-in-Making”?
Our histories & past shape not only our identities but also our present and hence forgetting is impossible, and politically problematic. As George Santayana once said that those who forget past are condemned to repeat it. Hence the paramount requirement is that we remember, not forget, where we—as individuals and as a collective—came from. Even if individual and collective memories of the past are contested, partial, and imperfect, we must continually examine our past and come to grips with it rather than sweep it under a rug in a collective act of amnesia. As William Faulkner wrote in Requiem for a Nun, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
The powerful, which includes a state, often think that time will heal all wounds and injustices and hence forgetting the past is a compulsive natural phenomenon. However it is not always true. For instance time does not heal the wounds of injustice when it leaves in place the institutions and practices that embody that injustice. For instance we might have forgotten by now the major massacre of around five lac Muslims of Jammu in 1947 ,aided & abetted by State headed by Dogra Mahraja, but the continuous oppressive &repressive state policy followed since then, hardly allows us to forget that massacre. There is hardly a period since 1947 when Kashmiris have not faced the wrath of the State on one pretext or the other. Even protests against price rise of essential commodities or a just demand to restore our religious symbols like “Holy relic” have invited bullets from the tyrant state. This Continuously reminds us of past massacres & state repression.
Here we can also recall two important insights derived from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s philosophy of nonviolent disobedience in the 1950s–1960s. First, in response to his critics who told him to “slow down” and not to push too fast for change, King rejected the myth that time heals all wounds. For King, “time is neutral: it can be used either destructively or constructively … Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of people. Against the view that time heals all wounds, I humbly argue that promoting justice in the present requires us to recognize the legacies of historical injustices and to promote some form of restitution. And second, in response to the “do-nothingism” that rests on this myth of time, King also explained why direct action is needed to pursue justice. For King we, who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open where it can be seen and dealt with.
And remember- Those Nations who forget their History are destined to loose their geography as well. Palestine is a living example of that forgetfulness because Arabs did not take lessons from History. Turn the pages of History books & you will find scores of other similar such instances.
(The author is a practicing chartered Accountant. E Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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