Indeed Sheikh Abdullah was a popular figure; but he was not a visionary leader. The earnest scholars of Kashmir history are still confused about two of his far-reaching decisions those in local parlance are described as historical blunders; the decision to convert Muslim Conference into National Conference and affixing popular seal of approval to (temporary) instrument of accession. Whether he was a patriot and at every critical juncture erred to make a right choice, the jury is still out.
Kashmiri nationalism is just an intellectual luxury—-a confused but highly destructive instrument of state machinations — and not a viable political ideology is a historical fact. During the last 7 decades the Dogra of Jammu or for that matter our own Kashmiri Pandits have never wholeheartedly supported our political struggle for a dignified existence. Did Jammu accept Sheikh its leader in 1939? Could Sheikh’s joining India in 1947 restrict them to carry out genocide of Jammu Muslims? And has ever Hindu communalists of Jammu accepted Kashmiri leadership? Still unconvinced let’s ask ourselves a straightforward question. In case entire Kashmir had joined Pakistan in 1947 like other Muslim majority areas of the sub-continent, would still there be a Kashmir problem?
In case the argument back and forth sounds to be still confusing, let’s strive to understand the Kashmir conflict through the prism of New Delhi. Does New Delhi comprehend Kashmir as a national uprising or else as a movement that’s not only extension of Pakistan but also sponsored by Pakistan. Let’s not obfuscate the given ground realities. Although New Delhi has repeatedly exploited the confused nationalist sentiment to fragment the real Kashmiri aspirations, in fact it recognises and has always dealt with Kashmiri aspirations as an off-shoot of two-nation theory. So two-nation theory that divided India and Pakistan on religious lines is mother of all the ills.
Notwithstanding with the fact that India, Pakistan and now Bangladesh also are all three sovereign states— looking at the deep estrangement even prevalent presently— what purpose has the disastrous division of sub-continent been able to serve? Even if partition in the hindsight has proved to be a harsh and hasty decision, we are not intending to argue a case here in favour of the reunification of the sub-continent. For that matter we will like to wish people of the three dominions peace, progress and stability.
The Hindu mindset may hold the then Muslim leadership solely responsible for the partition, yet ironically majority of Hindu population have completely reconciled with partition and are quite satisfied as a rapidly developing society. However since Muslims of the erstwhile sub-continent and not only people of J&K have suffered and continue to endure immeasurable sufferings, it seems only the Muslims who continue to question the wisdom behind the partition. Zafar Hilaly a former Pakistani diplomat in his latest column begins with a question: “A fellow-columnist has asked why “if we had to go through this (the mess that Pakistan has become today) did we go through the trouble of Partition?” Pakistan has a chequered history, and the critical existential crisis it is faced with today will obviously force every sensitive Pakistani to introspect; what went wrong and why?
Mewat is a Muslim dominated region of Haryana; to somehow this area could escape the horrible events of 1947. Early this week I was travelling through this area, passing through an abandoned mosque, I was told that in Haryana alone there are 4000 such mosques. This is cruel reminder of the curse the partition has brought over the Muslims of sub-continent. We may apparently reason that it’s all due to the partition. It is hardly possible to question such a stark analysis. Such a heavier cost, but what are the gains? The Ulema of that time baring a few exceptions had vociferously opposed the idea of the partition. Even Quaid-e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinah was not fully sure about his idea of Pakistan, the ongoing debate in Pakistan at least paints to that direction only. There is huge body of scholarly work available now that blames Nehru more than the Jinnah for the creation of Pakistan. What comes to mind immediately is a very disturbing thought; was partition forced on the Muslims of the sub-continent may need a through scholarly examination.
BJP frontal organisation of Sangh parivar is a strong proponent of hardcore Hindutva ideology, Congress is also accused of practising the soft brand of Hindutva. It is very much possible that in near future a person like Narendra Modi can become prime minister of India. In such an eventuality if not in theory but in practise, what stops India to become a Hindu Rashtra? The idea of joint confederation was rejected by Nehru in 1946 hence the partition. The idea of Kashmiri sub-nationalism has been badly trampled by the heavy jackboots. Did India’s story as a secular state go astray somewhere in the midcourse? Or what that we are experiencing is the natural culmination of a deliberate course of flight chosen in the beginning itself