Every passing day adds to our experience of life. The experience at Punjab history conference held from 15th to 17th march 2013 was unique. The province of Punjab is related in many ways with Kashmir.
Undivided province of Punjab has close relations with Kashmir since times immemorial. It was this region which provided asylum to our forefathers during the tyrannical rule of foreigners in Kashmir. Not only this, the present state of Jammu and Kashmir formed by the Treaty of Amritsar on 16 March 1846 has also to share its history with this region.
It was the faithful servant of Lahore Darbar Maharaja Gulab Singh of Jammu who after his dubious role in Anglo-Sikh war was provided Jammu and Kashmir as a reward for his help to East India Company. So the person who deceived his master of Punjab received Kashmir as a reward and a new political entity was created which till then never existed i.e. the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
During Kashmir’s struggle against autocratic Dogras, people of this region provided insights to the people of Kashmir to fight for their just cause. People from Punjab and Lahore provided ideological and financial support to start a freedom struggle against Dogra rulers. It will not be an exaggeration to say that it was the enthusiastic, sentimental and courageous lecture of Abdul Qadeer from Lahore who provided the basis to our organised freedom struggle. It was during Abdul Qadeer’s trial that 13 July 1931 incident took place and the subsequent political developments gave rise to an organised All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference in 1932.
My experience at the conference was a mixture of pleasure and pain. Punjab University Patiala is very beautiful in look and academics both. People are humanistic and non communal, at least with Kashmiris. They easily understand our agony which might have made them to remember their history of genocide. They could easily feel the unseen tears in our eyes as they too witnessed it during operation blue star and its aftermath. There I felt as if I was in my native village which is also surrounded by many villages of the Sikh community.
During the proceedings, Punjabi culture remained dominant which infer the growing regionalism and the role played in this regard by academicians and intelligentsia. But in every oppressed society individuals are having two narratives – public and private.
A professor from Jammu while deliberating on the accession issue (accession of J&K with India) declared and made audiences to believe that the accession and aftermath was all democratic and what was wrong was Pakistan’s onslaught. In response to a question about the conditionality of accession the response was negation of any condition even though the speaker’s presentation was providing clues for the conditionality of accession. Making audience to believe on the finality of accession, the speaker during her proceedings said that the rulers had to take decision while keeping some qualification like geography and composition of population into consideration. This was quite contradictory while dragging in to discussion the private narrative of an oppressed remained private and only the tip of an iceberg of it came on public front. During lunch the said speaker while initiating discussion said that it will remain a debate and let us keep this debate on, she said smiling.
But I was serious about the issue of those crosscurrents. To them this is a matter of paper and books but to a common Kashmiri it is a matter of 1,40,000 who got killed due to this accession question. To them it is a matter of pen and ink but to a common Kashmiri, it is a matter of blood and iron which dominated the post accession Kashmir. To them it is a matter of adventure, to a common Kashmiri it is a tough time to search for the 200000 pundit neighbours who lost their home land and left their Muslim brethren to mourn for their separation. To them it is simple hiding of facts but to the victims of this turmoil it is a matter of 8000 half widows who are still waiting for their life partners to come and have a tea with their children and the list goes on.
One thing was clear that Kashmir’s agony had not yet reached to the intelligentsia and academicians of India thanks to extreme nationalist attitude of Indian media which always show misinterpretations without facts to which they interpret. Kashmiri academicians who can use the platform available to them to represent common Kashmiri and can bring the agony and miserable conditions of Kashmiri to the forefront are not doing the same. During this conference, I saw Kashmiri students presenting papers and sabotaging Kashmir history only to save their career.
Not even a single Paper was representing the Kashmir in real sense which saw 23 year of violence and had entered 22nd day of constant curfew in the aftermath of Afzal guru hanging on 15th of March. The need is to bring the Kashmir issue at the centre stage and let us say goodbye to our selfish interests and not to be careerists always and bring Kashmir in academic circles and make it a debatable issue. This is a safest way to contribute so that our future generation will not remember us as cowards and culprits.
The author is a research scholar in Kashmir University and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org