Dr.Sheikh Showkat Hussain
After Indian forces landed in Kashmir on 27th October 1947 Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah told us that we have gained independence after four centuries of subjugation.. This led the pro-establishment intellectuals to develop a paradigm within which along with Dogra and Sikh rule, Afghan and Mughal periods came within the definition of colonial rule for Kashmir. This despite the fact that it were Kashmiris who invited Mughals and Afghans to Kashmir to get rid of repressive regimes. This despite the fact that Kashmiris rallied around the last Sikh governor.Imamud-din to oppose the advent of British supported Dogra ruler Gulab Singh. There was another paradox associated with this approach. We cherished Mughal gardens on one hand and were to believe that Mughal rule in Kashmir was an alien rule. It was a similar paradox which infested Hindu nationalists of India who on one side cherished Taj Mahal as symbol of India’s beauty on the other hand resorted to demolition of Babri Masjid perceiving it to be a symbol of foreign subjugation. . One wonders why real symbols of subjugation are used with pride where as Mughal monuments perceived to be symbols of alien occupation by Hindu radicals. Rajtarangni mentions that the type of Dhoti used in north India was imposed by Lalta Datya upon north Indian population on his conquest. When I raised these questions I was told that Mughals, Afghans, Sikhs and Dogras all were outsiders therefore I have to perceive their epoch’s as the eras of subjugation for Kashmir. It created one more question that was equally difficult to answer. How Dogra rule could be perceived as alien colonial rule when Dogra’s happened to be natives of the state. And if nativity of rulers is the sole criteria of ascertaining whether a particular period was colonial rule or non colonial rule then this criteria has to be extended to the pre Mughal era as well. I proceeded to ascertain nativity of pre-mughal rulers. All those whom I cherished had a foreign nativity.Budshah and Shahmeers were from Swat, Laltadatiya from Kangra and Kanishk was a Turkman.The logic that made Afghan and Mughal era as alien could proceed further back and was in fact extended by one Mr.Hangloo in a write up in Greater Kashmir who mentioned that subjugation of Kashmir started with the advent of Muryans because they were the ones who invaded Kashmir thus landed Kashmir into era of subordination. I pondered upon this xenophobic approach and applied the same to pre Mauryan era. When I proceeded with it I found no reason for not extending the era of occupation of Kashmir to the advent of Kashaprishi. Kashaprishi according to both Rajtarangni and Nilmatpurana had come from outside and sought refuge of Nilnag the naga ruler of Kashmir .Thus paving way for an era of Aryan domination in Kashmir. I started to feel that our era of Kashmir history is pre Kashaprishi era. It was era of Nagas and Pischachas. I came to know through books of Anthropology that Nagas were pre-Aryan migrants from North-West. Every iota of my history got erased I was left with no history and no past of my own. I was bereft of any history of mine. Our poets plunged into self denial to such an extent that Syed Ali Hamdani (RA) didn’t qualify to be included within the anthem of our premier educational institution The Kashmir University, though all my religo-cultural traits, arts and modes of living were moulded by him. It was a complete alienation from my self and my past. Those who don’t have a past cant have a future.
I turned to the academicians of history for rescue. What they provided to me were certain constructs created to serve and perpetuate the status quo. Status quo was being challenged on the basis of Pan Islamism. Indian establishment needed an antidote to blunt this challenge. Through these constructs of Kashmiriyat syncretism and Sufism, the Darbari “historians” sought to provide this antidote in lieu of petty favors. Kashmir was unfamiliar with this terminology prior to advent of Indian rule. Kashmiri Islam and Sufism were portrayed to be different from Islam followed elsewhere. The greatest Kashmiri Sufi, Sheikh Noor-u-din wali attributed origin of Reshi Silsila of mysticism to the Prophet (SAW) through Moulana Rumi and Owaise Karni. This portrayal of Kashmir History was based on a false assumption that Sufi version of Islam is closer to secularism thus positive towards Indian Nationalism. History communicates altogether a different story. The Conformist Deobandis in the sub-continent were in forefront of Indian national movement whereas pro Sufi Barely School was supporting Pakistan movement. I could not be rescued by these academicians.
Being student of International Law, I was familiar with the fact that it was only in 1919 that conquest became an unlawful mode of acquisition of territory through Article 10 of The Covenant of League of Nations. Nationality and Passport are a recent phenomenon. Whole of the world prior to past two centuries was open and globalized the way some aspire to see it again through the new phenomenon of globalization. The parochialism that was inducted into our outlook with emergence of Nationalism was not there .There was no trace of linguistic chauvinism either. Staunch Hindu Shivaji wrote in Persian. Same was done by Gulab Singh. He used Persian to write his autobiography “Gulab Nama” and deed of Hindu endowments Dharmath Trust. They were free from linguistic chauvinism introduced to us through Parochial-Nationalism.When I looked at my history through this normative framework I felt that my previous approach was wrong. Sheikh Abdullah wanted me to look at previous epochs of history through the prism of present day notions of Nationalism. Realizing this I started to look at history from a different perspective. Whosoever came to Kashmir in previous epochs did a right thing in view of the normative framework of those times. I had to look upon them from the perspective of their governance rather than nativity. The criterion of good or bad rulers was the extent to which these rulers had been benevolent or oppressive towards this land and its people. Justice or Adle thus became the criteria of assessment good or bad governance . Once I adopted this approach, I started to own everything good and just. It became my legacy. I started to abhor every tormentor native or alien. At once whole of rich heritage of Kashmir became part of my history. Experience also contributed to the same understanding. The so called era of “freedom” since 1947 landed me in to a system which is accredited with electoral frauds(Bipinchandra),genocide and Ethnic cleansing of lakhs of my co-religionists in Jammu region, rapes ravaging from Shopian to Kunanposhipur and Checksadipora, deceit both at National and International level compelling me to observe 27th October, the day Indian forces landed in Kashmir as blackest day of my history. You find on this day every lane of Kashmir deserted every class room empty and every human being mourning the so called day of deliverance.
Summary of a presentation made in a seminar of History Department, University of Kashmir