The chauvinist in me dictated that I should give no credence to the wikileaks about the ‘turf war’ in Kashmir. The reports based on the perceptions of some officials or diplomats of a particular embassy cannot be counted as something biblical to be believed in. But what set me thinking was the statement made by Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai immediately after his release from jail.
He has been now for over four decades on the political scene of the state as one of the front ranking leaders- largely unsung. He unlike many in his tribe is not considered as mealy-mouthed but one who believes in calling a spade a spade. Talking to a news agency he urged Kashmir leadership to go for introspection and find out what went wrong during 2010 unrest. He believes that ‘Kashmiris are not fickle minded and as a nation cannot be blamed for the ‘breakdown of 2010 movement’. And ‘it is leadership that leads people and not people that lead the leaders.’ Sehrai is not the only leader who has raised question about conducting of the movement during 2010 but similar questions have been raised and continue to be raised by many more leaders about 2008 and 2009 uprisings. These leaders believe that these risings could have worked as catalysts for resolving the problem because of the turf war but failed to show tangible results.
The non-resolution of the problem has not only been bedeviling some political leaders but also causing concern to people at large who have been suffering uncertainties for over sixty three years. So far no in-depth study has been done by Kashmir academics with regard to Kashmiri risings that go up like a gas balloon and bursts only after attaining a height. There already exists a lot of literature on various dimensions of Kashmir dispute and lot more continues to adorn book shelves. But, I am yet to come across a major work dispassionately analyzing the post 1988 uprising in the state.
Some authors like Sumantra Bose and Victoria Schofield in their works have gone beyond the birth of the dispute and its impact on India- Pakistan relations but what could be seen a book that looks both outwards and inwards is yet to be written. This gap to an extent has been filled by Octogenarian author Muhammad Sultan Pampori with his recent book ‘Kashmir in Chains’ (1819 to September 2010) published by Ali Muhammad and Sons, Srinagar and priced at Rs.550.00. This book which is one of comprehensive books on Kashmir dispute was first published in 1992 has been revised, updated and brought up to September 2010. This book spreading over 550 pages is one of the ‘boldest’ books that I have read on Kashmir more particularly about the post 1990 situation in the state. The author rightly calls it as ‘an unprecedented phase in the history of Kashmir. He sees Islamic Students League, with its five leading members Shakeel Bakshi, Ashfaq Majid, Abdul Hamid Sheikh, Javid Mir and Mohammad Yasin Malik as harbinger of this new phase.
The book very lucidly encapsulates the situation in the state after it was brought under the central rule with Jagmohan as the governor. ‘He ruled for 123 days, imposed curfew for 75 days, witnessed civil curfew for 18 more days; which means only 30 days work. One thousand were killed and fourteen thousand could not go to hospital. The author has analyzed the role of the governors during central rule and of chief ministers after 2006. He sees them differing in tactics only in violating human rights and suppressing the people. The book also looks inwards and analysis various phases of political struggle in the state since 1990 to 2010, and why these could not bring about desired results.
He also analysis what Ambassador Yusuf Buch had called as “paralyzing stalemate” over the dispute. One may differ with the author so far his formula for resolution of the problem is concerned but the last chapter of the book titled “opinion evaluated” has answers for many a question raised by political leaders including Ashraf Sehrai. Pampori in this chapter besides much talked four point formula analyses all the alternative solutions discussed in various forums during past few years. He sees four point formulas as blatant way of snatching sovereign rights of people and perpetuating status quo. In the light of Schwartzberg plan the author discusses plebiscite but is skeptical about Pakistan getting support. He ends at note pleading united and consistent by “freedom loving people.”
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