I am Kashmiri

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Well hanging on to one’s roots should not be disregarded as a common sentiment or an ordinary political remark. It is a deep rooted, innate humane instinct that gives meaning to life and accredits the individual at all points in private and public life. RahulGandhi is not the only one who used this common thread to bond himself with the people and habitat in Kashmir. Even his grandfather some 76 years ago in 1936 away from Kashmir could not forget to flag his own Kashmiri descent.

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru wrote in his autobiography first published in April 1936, “We were Kashmiris. Over two hundred years ago, early in the eighteen century, our ancestor came down from that mountain valley to seek fame and fortune in the rich plains below”. Nehru further continues, “Raj Kaul was the name of that ancestor of ours and he had gained eminence as a Sanskrit and Persian scholar in Kashmir. He attracted the notice of Farrukhsiar during the latter’s visit to Kashmir, and, probably at the emperor’s instance, the family migrated to Delhi, the imperial capital, about the year 1716”. Nehru illustrates how family name changed to Kaul-Nehru (due to their house on the bank of a nahar (canal) and how in the later years Kaul dropped out and the family became simply Nehru.

Although the world is simpler, integrated and familiar today, time and generations play a crucial role, yet Kashmiris share the same instinct as the African Slaves continued to harbour deep in their hearts, that is, Africans never surrender. They survive and triumph.

I don’t mean to paint the scene of any kind of slavery in Kashmir, other than, to make a point in regard to human instinct and in regard to the distribution of people and habitat of Jammu and Kashmir against their choice. My point would be easily understood by those who have been reading or following the Noble Prize Winner African-American Novelist Toni Morrison, who has witnessed the African Slavery through to the rise of Africans as first African-American President of America.

Rahul Gandhi’s visit to Kashmir may have a party political character but one should not be so out of fashion to deny him his spiritual thirst to bond with his roots in Kashmir. And if he makes it public for one or the other reason we should be humane enough to allow him say his heartfelt.

Rahul Gandhi has flagged his descent and said “I am a Kashmiri. I myself am from Kashmiri family and want to have lifelong relations with the people of Jammu and Kashmir.” 

He has explained the purpose of his visit and said “I have two goals for Kashmir. First, I want to see permanent bond is established between us. I want to understand your problems deeply. I want to have lifelong relationship with you (people).”  He has made an effort to reach out to Kashmiri youth and said “I want that youth of this place should become part of India’s development and progress like other states of the country.”  Rahul Gandhi has a vision and he wants to understand their “pain” and help connect them with the development of the country.

Rahul Gandhi should be all welcome in Kashmir as a distinguished citizen of Kashmiri descent and as a leader with a right to advance his opinion and vision in any part of Jammu and Kashmir. Greatness lies in coexisting with the opinion that remains at variance to yours and not in turning into a carbon copy of each other or rushing for any mundane compliance or conformity.

As a Kashmiri, I would have loved to see that the civil society, other opinions and the elders in Kashmir had formed a citizens’ committee to welcome this prominent Indian leader of Kashmiri descent and interacted with him on the question of ‘pain’ of the people of Kashmir in general and youth in particular. He had made valuable references to family, pain, youth and bond with Kashmir.

As regards ‘pain’ of the people of Kashmir we had a strong case to argue with him. We had the long story to tell about Kashmiri youth, we had to remind him of the loss of a generation, army of youth out of circulation, unemployed employable educated youth, unemployable educated youth, unemployed employable uneducated youth and unemployable uneducated youth. It is unfortunate that Kashmiri leadership, civil society, writers, lawyers, journalists and the common people seem to have left the instrument of change in the hands of others. We may be poor but surely not powerless to bring about a healthy change in our Kashmir narrative and update our political vocabulary and phrase.

It was an opportunity to start in graceful hospitality and reciprocate in welcoming the publicly expressed Kashmiri origin by a leader who is likely to be the future Prime Minister of India and who shall be sitting on the other side of the table with the people of Kashmir, leaders from Pakistan and the world community on the question of the future of the distributed people of Jammu and Kashmir. We have exhausted our militant and diplomatic abilities for nothing. It would be fatal if we exhaust or misdirect our abilities to argue and negotiate in accordance with the jurisprudence of our Rights Movement.

At least the question of ‘pain’ suffered by the people in Kashmir could have been raised with him and efforts should have been made to force him to meet those who could articulate the question of ‘pain’. I am sure that our leaders of all manner have an eye on the world that lives farther to Rajbagh. There are capitals beyond Delhi and Islamabad as well. Our leaders in Kashmir could have picked up the Rahul Gandhi’s humane feelings towards understanding the ‘pain’ in Kashmir. He could have been reminded about the historic decision made on Friday 5 October 2012 by the British High Court in London against British Government on the question of ‘pain’ suffered by four Kenyans some 50 years ago during Mau Mau uprising against British Colonial rule.

High court in London gave four elderly Kenyans permission to claim damages from British government for abuses suffered during rebellion. Three Kenyans tortured (a fourth claimant, Susan Ciong’ombe Ngondi, who died two years ago, aged 71) by the British colonial authorities during the Mau Mau uprising can pursue their claims for compensation against the Government. The landmark decision to allow the elderly trio to seek damages more than 50 years after the bloody conflict follows an earlier admission by the Foreign Office that atrocities had been carried out ‘at the hands of the colonial administration’. The court rejected the British government’s claim that too much time had elapsed for there to be a fair trial, just as it threw out an earlier claim that the Mau Mau veterans should be suing the Kenyan government, not the British.

There will undoubtedly be victims of colonial torture, from Malaya to the Yemen, from Cyprus to Palestine, who will be reading this judgment with great care. I sincerely hope that our politicians, the leaders in civil society, writers, lawyers and every sane member of society in Kashmir would be keenly following the Mau Mau torture case and examining its implications. JKCHR in its December 1997 report entitled British Government Vs Kashmir has made out a similar case on the basis of para 2 in the letter dated 7 January 1848 written by Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Hardinge, Secretary to the Government of India, to Maharaja Gulab Singh.

Kashmiris could have taken up the question of pain with Rahul Gandhi and used the opportunity to put India and Pakistan on notice on the question of Torture used in the Kashmiri administrations under their respective control. We do not want to learn from the common and brave Africans who have humbled their White masters by their continued struggle based on never surrender but struggle and triumph. We seem to be turning into a people without a human soul.

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