Scholars Must Revisit | That will give the narrative a new spin

‘It is essential to keep a record of our history no matter how horrible things are, by remembering the past, we might have the wisdom not to make the same mistakes in the future. Moreover, they offer the oppressed the ability to speak for themselves.’

Some friends, are opposed to the idea of relating the history of the land, old or of the recent past to the current ‘dominant discourse’ or the contemporary people’s narratives. They have the right to do so; everyone has the right to his ideas. Nonetheless, to quote Frederick Douglass, a nineteenth-century American social reformer and leader to end slavery in America.

To be honest notwithstanding claiming to be an intelligent race, we have failed to do anything highlighted in the above quote to keep our narrative alive and draw wisdom from the past mistakes – in reality; we are caught in the morass of past mistakes to this day. Sadly, many of our chroniclers instead of identifying these mistakes indulging in worst kind of hagiography have glorified them, and many others unwittingly have perpetuated them. Of late, there have been some glad tidings, with some young and old scholars piecing together some realities and demolishing the hagiographic accounts bordering myths and demystifying some faintly visible facts with the publication of their works about the situations then obtaining and decisions taken by the leadership at the critical junctures in our history.

That for telling the whole truth to the generation- next tothe contemporary historiographers, research scholars and writers need to unburden themselves of the pasthagiographic accounts, and the ‘dominant discourse’ and revisit the past- removing the distortions. It dawned on me while working on a small paper on the genesis of the uncertainty in the state. Most of the writers and leaders, across the political divide, see the happenings in the sub-continent after British crossed Indian ocean lock, stock and barrel as the main cause for the uncertainty in the state. Some attribute it to dithering Maharaja Hari Singh, failing to join either of the two dominions – India and Pakistan. Some, blame the Afradies and other tribals from the Frontier Province supposed to be supported by Pakistan, invading the state for joining the Poonch rebellions. Some attribute, the perpetuation of uncertanity to the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru taking the question of future of Jammu and Kashmir to the United Nations Security. Nehru had bolstered the criticism against him by his critics in admitting that it was a faux pas in the early fifties and trying to retrace his steps through hideous tactics.

These factors might have contributed to the uncertainty,but historically the question over the genesis of the future of Jammu and Kashmir started much earlier to the division of British India. Instead, of recognising, the struggle initiated by the eighty-two per cent populationof the state in 1924 that graduated to fullscale movement after the massacre of 13 July 1931 was projected like a battle of ideologies- pan-Islamism vs nationalism.

Pandit Prem Nath Bazaz, who after a couple of years was a friend, philosopher and guide of the protagonist of the Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference was in the frontline of this disinformation campaign against the movement for equal rights, and opportunities for people discriminated against for their faith.

Dr Sir Mohammad Iqbal’s was the inspiration for the entire spectrum of the Muslim Conference leadership and backbone of the movement in as much as mobilising people in British India in support of underprivilegedcitizen of Jammu and Kashmir. He along with other critical public faces in Punjab and other parts of had setup All India Kashmir Committee, in Lahore, for supporting the Kashmir movement. Iqbal and the Kashmir Committee had become an eyesore for a minuscule privileged and pampered section of the society- and Bazaz as a leader of this section sent exaggerated reports to the Indian National Congress leaders- using pan-Islamism as Brim-Brim-Chowk (scare phantom). It deputed its leaders Sir Taj Bhaudar Saproo, Colonel Haksar and Abul Kalam Azad to Kashmir, ostensibly two of them were here guide the Maharaja on the Indian Federal Scheme. Through his regular reports, Bazaz apprised and also alarmed the Indian Congress leadership more particularly Gandhi and Nehru about the situation in Kashmir. The July 1932 meeting between him and the future president of the Muslim Conference had also taken place at the behest of Nehru.
Nevertheless, despite the Indian National Congressoperating through its proxies, to the frustration of Bazaz, it could no counterbalance the influence of Allama Iqbal on the movement. In a long letter to Gandhi, he wrote:

“The present movement among Muslims is headed by disgruntled and dissatisfied youths. These educated Muslims began to think and conspire. Some are anxious tools in the hands of Pan-Islamic leaders of Punjab like Sir Mohammad Iqbal and others. They see the dream of wiping out Hindus from Kashmir and establishing a Mohammedans confederacy in Northern India, and others who were always anxious to meddle in political affairs of Kashmir have now found an opportunity of fulfilling their long-cherished schemes of pan-Islamism.”

Not happy with answerer of Gandhi. Bazaz, wrote a long letter to Nehru to know about the future destination of Kashmir enclosing reply received from Gandhi. Thus, initiated the first time, the debate over future of Jammu and Kashmir- about four years before the Muslim Leauge adopted Lahore Resolution. Nehru in his long informed him how the Indian National Congress was looking at future of Kashmir:

“It is clear that ultimate fate of Kashmir, as of the other Indian States, is bound up with the idea of India as a whole. So that the great struggle of Indian independence governs the situation and more or less local struggle in Kashmir must be viewed in the light of Indian struggle.”

Nehru did not stop only at assuring Bazaz about the future Kashmir. Nonetheless to see the ultimate fate of Kashmir in joining India, he immediately after sending a team of the Congress leaders to Srinagar headed by Purshottam Das Tandon to meet Sheikh Abdullah and Prem Nath Bazaz’. Then he sent two prominent Congress leaders, Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan and Dr K. M. Ashraf a Marxist historian, a leading a member of the All-India Congress Committee (AICC) to establish mass contact. After that, we see the Indian National Congress leadership virtually, taking over the movent started people of the state in 1924.
Nevertheless, the question raised by Bazaz in the thirties and answered by Nehru is still clouded in thick fog.
zahidgm@greaterkashmir.com