The recent communal incident in district Rajouri of Jammu province need to be viewed in the historical perspective. Primarily, because it is essential to lay the lessons of the past before the present and future, for those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
These events were ostensibly provoked by Parveen Togadia, international president of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, but in effect it is the continuation of the right wing agenda, perpetrated by RSS, followed in Jammu since 1947. In that year, Muslims of Jammu were systematically annihilated under a well thought out plan by RSS under Maharaja Hari Singh’s auspices. Their percentage in population was reduced from 61% to 38% thus changing the demographic character of the province.
As Gandhi himself said on November 27, 1947, This (genocide) has not been fully reported in the newspapers (Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi; volume 90, page 115). On December 25, 1947 he again said: "The Hindus and Sikhs of Jammu and those who had gone there from outside (referring to RSS cadres coming from adjoining areas of Punjab) killed Muslims there. The Maharaja of Kashmir is responsible for what is happening there. Muslim women have been dishonored" (ibid, page 298).
Horace Alexander wrote in the Spectator (January 16, 1948) that the killings had the tacit consent of State authority and put the figure at 200,000. On August 10, 1948, The Times (London) published a report by A Special Correspondent, an Indian Civil Service official who had served in the State. He wrote: 2, 37,000 Muslims had been annihilated – all by the forces of the Dogra State, headed by the Maharaja in person and aided by Hindus, Sikhs and soldiers of Maharaja Patiala who had entered the state in the second week of October 1947. The survivors of that holocaust still scattered in this or other part of the state conservatively estimate the number of those killed close to five lakh souls.
Hari Singh’s complicity was later fully exposed by the publication of Jawaharlal Nehru’s letter of December 30, 1947, and the Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah’s letter of October 7, 1948, both addressed to Patel. (Sardar Patel’s Correspondence; Volume 1, 1971, pages 135 and 237).
Sheikh wrote: There was enacted in every village and town through which he [Hari Singh] passed an orgy of arson, loot and murder of Muslims. In Jammu the killing of Muslims all over the province continued unabated for weeks under his very nose.
It is baffling to understand as to why action was not taken by Abdullah against the perpetrators of the heinous crime, a part of which took place during the period when he himself was the chief emergency administrator of the state. He writes in his autobiography Aatish Chinar that he intended to proceed against Maharaja and his cronies for war crimes and crimes against humanity but abandoned the idea later.
Was it a result of coercive pressure applied by Sardar Patel on Abdullah to imprison his close relative, accused of theft of valuable jewelry in Maharaja of Indore’s (Known as Holkars) Palace where he was employed or a quid pro quo for a full fledged prime ministership as against a Dewan in Mysore or a combination of both is a matter of seperate debate?
On the political side, it is interesting to note that when Abdullah supported an accession with India in 1947, the Praja Parishad and its RSS brigade wanted an Independent J&K under Maharaja’s dispensation. In fact, on August 15, 1947, pro-Maharaja organization like Hindu Rajya Sabha, Praja Parishad and RSS hoisted Maharaja flags (state flags) in Jammu everywhere. They did not hoist Indian National Congress flags. And the banners said, Sovereign Independent Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Baltistan under Maharaja Hari Singh. That means the parties supporting Maharaja, particularly the Hindu Rajya Sabha headed by Pandit Prem Nath Dogra were favoring independent Jammu and Kashmir. Soon after the accession, Sangh Parivar came in its true color and thereby imposed a communal identity on Jammu making it a laboratory for experimentation of Hindutva policies which is continuing till date.
Post accession, transfer of power to Sheikh Abdullah created a huge resentment in Jammu as it was perceived a replacement of Hindu Maharaja by a Muslim leader. Even Maharaja’s son, Karan Singh, lamented that Dogra rule had in effect been replaced by Kashmiri rule. His interview to Neville Maxwell of The Times (London) on 14th November 1965 makes his disliking clear.
This resentment gave a new lease of life to Praja Parishad which successfully spearheaded the EK-Vidhan-EK Pradhan (in effect abolish article 370) agitation culminating in arrest of Prime Minister, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in August 1953. It is the same group or outfit which continuously beats the ‘Jammu discriminated’ band and presents itself in various forms like Amarnath Sangrash Samiti, Jammu State Morcha, Jammu Students Morcha etc. etc. at different points of time. The form changes but the substance is same.
In October 1987, Jammu erupted in fury when Farooq Abdullah, at Rajiv Gandhi’s behest, decided to terminate the annual ‘Darbar Move’ by which the government functioned alternately from Srinagar and Jammu every six months. Apparently it had regional self-assertion tone but inwardly it was fiercely communal. Again in August 2008, it was not Jammu but the communal forces there that took to the streets under a false regional garb. The issue of allotment of land to the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB), a legacy of the former Governor S.K. Sinha’s communal agenda, was presented nationally and internationally as an intolerant Kashmiri Muslim issue. But thanks to the untiring efforts of pro-freedom leaders of all hues, the impression did not gather ground in the rest of India or in international arena which could have spelt disaster for the movement.
It is, therefore imperative for all right thinking people of J&K, Muslims particularly, to be vigilant against the nefarious designs of RSS and its tributaries like VHP and not get provoked by the venom doled out by its sick minded parcharks like Togodia and co.
(The author is a practicing chartered Accountant and can be mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org)