Truth about Indian secularism

On the International Day of the Disappeared, the president of the Kashmiri Pandit Sangarash Samithi, Sanjay Tikoo expressed solidarity with the relatives of the disappeared. He offered support on behalf of his organization. The noble gesture was highly appreciated. He admitted that a non-Muslim is given a patient hearing in New Delhi “If you ever need my help, just call me, when a non-Muslim goes to the authorities, it makes a difference.” 

So in `secular’ India a Kashmiri Muslim has to entrust the job of narrating his woeful tale to a non-Muslim to evoke a response from the authorities. To put it plainly, Tikoo conveyed that the voices of Kashmiri Muslims go unheard.
Tikoo’s comment raised some serious questions.  Can a Kashmiri Muslim be a true Indian? If Kashmiri Muslims are not trusted by the Indian state and the Indian nation, why do they express prudence from them? And when Kashmiri Muslims demand Azadi (freedom) why are they persecuted?

History is witness to the fact that New Delhi never trusted Kashmiri Muslims. Even Sher-e-Kashmir was not spared. He was never trusted. This dichotomy forced him to change his stand viz-a-viz Kashmir dispute regularly. His loyalty to Indian state reached its zenith when he was in power and out of power Sheikh was always a rebel. In 1953 he even sought independence. In 1964, he sought trifurcation of the state of Jammu Kashmir.

Finally he became an Indian in 1975 but New Delhi did not trust him. Dr Farooq Abdullah has a similar story to tell. He swears by unity and integrity of India. Every second day he says Kashmir was an Atoot Aung (Integral part). He very often fires paper missiles towards Pakistan for sponsoring acts of terrorism in his country. But during PDP rule while addressing the media at Jammu after a book release, he lashed out at the army for “violating rights of the people”. He said: “We have no option but to reconsider our decision on accession.” But, when National Conference assumed power once again in 2008, Kashmir again became an integral part of India for him.

 Omar Abdullah has held office of the Minister of State for External Affairs. He has stakes in India but in 2010 he challenged the totality of accession and described Jammu Kashmir an international dispute.  And for Mufti Sayed Kashmir is a disputed territory. He has his own solution for its resolution. So like other Indians, he does not believe in totality of accession. Like Sher-e-Kashmir, Mufti was never trusted by the Indian state. In 1990 when he was the Home minister of India, Kashmir affairs and Internal Security was not entrusted to him.

 George Fernandez looked after the Kashmir affairs and somebody else was in charge of internal security.  Militant turned legislator turned journalist, Javed Shah earned widespread ridicule when he shifted loyalties. Fellow MLC and former militant commander, Firdous Sayed alias Baber Badr during an interview talked about “the cost his colleague had to pay for being an Indian.”

 He said: “One day I came out of the house (assembly hall) to smoke. Javed was already in the lobby having a fag. He shouted at me. I did not like his attitude. He was not behaving like a legislator. Anyways, I responded to his call and went to him. He looked very gloomy.

I sat beside him. He poured out his heart. What he said turned me almost numb.”

 Javed told him:  “After coming from school yesterday, my son talked to me. He was very serious and had the most uncomfortable conversation with me that evening.” Firdous paused for a moment. He was narrating an incident which changed his thinking and the course of his life.

According to him, Javed’s son posed a very difficult and shocking question to him. “Dad, will you mind if I change my parentage in the school records?”

 The question was sudden and direct. Javed could not utter a word for a moment. With great difficulty, he pulled himself together and managed a `why’. The answer was as shocking as the question. “My friends tell me your father is a renegade, a killer, a criminal and an Indian. I will be spared of the humiliation if I change my parentage.”  

Javed had no answer. He could not sleep that night and was now lightening his burden in the lobby of the legislative assembly. Fortunately he found a patient listener in Firdous Sayed.  “We are offering a huge sacrifice by being on this side of the fence. Will the Indians acknowledge this ever?” he asked. Baber was lost in thoughts.  He never forgot the encounter.

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