I am yet to see an authentic narrative on Kashmir by our own historians
History too is elitist. It does not tell the whole story. It tells stories about Czars, Pharaohs, and Moguls but very rarely narrates the stories about the real Spartacus- the real heroes.
Kashmir is not an exception besides elitism the history of this land more particularly about past seven hundred years has also suffered distortions and largely written with a particular mindset. It is not only, none of the past historians has written what is termed as the ‘people’s history’ but they have been on mainly to use Albert Camus phrase by ‘the side of executioners’.
Here, I am not to talk about the narratives of the past that avowedly have been twisted to suit particular discourses but of the contemporary history that I believe after the end of the feudal rule suffered one or another kind of fascism. Most of our historians instead of chronicling the people’s struggle and sacrifices made history subservient to a particular personality and fatally contributed to the personality cult politics in the state. What has been most ironic many a historian have not even mentioned the role played the Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference against the discriminatory and oppressive laws in force in the state or for restoration of rights of eighty percent population of the state. In some voluminous book on freedom struggle like that of Prem Nath Bazaz only a passing reference has been made to the role played by this organization.
Students’ organizations during forties were in the forefront for ending the feudal rule in the state but I am yet to see a detailed chapter on the subject any of the books written on our side or an independent work on it. Hardly any details about organizations like the All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Student’s Organization or its parallel organization professing different political beliefs are available. Some of the protagonists of these students organization later had an important role to play in politics of the state on both sides of the dividing line.
In the post 1947 scenario, many chroniclers virtually surrendered to the dictations of the rulers and tailored their narratives according to whims and fancies of men with batons. Looking dispassionately at the histories of our struggle these hardly for their personality orientation, can be termed as truthful accounts of the people’s struggle. The histories of the period revolve around a couple of people. But it were not only a few individuals who had risen against the feudal autocracy but there were hundreds others who for their courage and valor caused the castles to tremor but these are not only missing from the main narratives but have not even been mentioned in the footnotes.
Largely historians on our side of the divide have not been fair in portraying the 1947 happenings in the state. Not only have they glossed over the facts with regard to the developments that caused the birth of the dispute and spawned uncertainty in the region but have even contorted them. I am yet to see a detailed, authentic or an honest book or books by our own historian on the birth of the problem. For understanding the complexities of the birth of the Kashmir dispute students of contemporary history have to depend upon works by American and European authors and historians like Josef Korbel, Alastair Lamb or Stanly Wolpert.
Rarely mention has been made in histories written during fifties even after to the large-scale resentment and resistance against the then leadership’s decisions. There are no detailed accounts about arm-twisting and repressive measures adopted for suppressing and silencing the voices of dissent. More than ten thousand people had been jailed between 1947 and 1953, some leaders were incarcerated for years but no history of the period gives any details with regard to those caged and chastised. Except some casual reference to some voices of dissent like Salam Dalal there is no recorded history about the people who vociferously articulated dissent against the then dominant discourse.
The voices of the dissent became shriller after early fifties and organizations like Jammu and Kashmir Political Conference were born. I am yet to see a work documenting the birth and role played by this organization. True, the founding leader of this organization finds mention in footnotes of some works but hundreds of others who suffered incarcerations for years and articulated their dissent in most stifling environment have not even found mention in the footnotes of our history.
The birth of Jammu and Kashmir Plebiscite Front is an important milestone in the contemporary history of the state. This organization stirred and steered the politics of the state for twenty-two years. It was not a top-heavy political party but a grassroots people’s organization with a very strong cadre of thousands of committed political workers. It also comprised part of political narrative of the sub-continent. The organization despite its founder denouncing the role played by it as ‘wilderness’ is an important chapter of the political struggle of the state. Not to speak of an in-depth research conducted on the role played by the organization in shaping the peoples political narrative in the state that persists to this day and has been the forte of the contemporary narratives the organization it is not mentioned even in the footnotes of the contemporary history. This holds true about the recent past also scholars from outside have written many a books about the happenings in the state. These works have been focusing on the main narrative and I am yet to see a work on the pattern of Laleh Khalili book the Politics of National Commemoration being written by Kashmir historians.
Ironically, Kashmir historians are shy of recording the contemporary history. And what intrigues me the most they being engaged in interpreting and reinterpreting the mystic past of the land.
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