Posts Tagged ‘Sheikh Abdullah’

Please, set Kashmir free – Malavika Sangghvi – DNA English Daily, Mumbai

August 25, 2008

http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?newsid=1185295&pageid=0

 

Please, set Kashmir free

 

Malavika Sangghvi

Saturday, August 23, 2008 21:56 IST     

 

As the daughter of a Kashmiri Hindu, whose family left its ancestral home in Srinagar during the turmoil that followed Partition, I would like  to express a sentiment that I still haven’t heard in the rhetoric about Kashmir.

 

I speak for those for whom Kashmir is not a symbol of one-upmanship with Pakistan, not a piece of a jigsaw puzzle that is intrinsic to the sovereignty of India  and not a football to be kicked around by cynical politicians, but as the daughter of a family in whose very lifeblood Kashmir courses every moment.

 

Cut our hearts open and you will see Kashmir, put your ear to our sighs, and you will hear our yearning for the land where our family spent its last days intact and happy before Partition scattered us to the winds, rendering us refugees.

 

Growing up dislocated in Mumbai, as a child, it never failed to surprise me when people who often hadn’t so far stepped out of their suburb, would say: “Kashmir is ours! We will never give it up! Let them try and take Kashmir from us!”

 

Even at that early age, when I could have mistaken their jingoism for kindred sentiment, I realised that their virulence had nothing to do with my family’s love for Kashmir, but was misguided machismo.

 

And I would find myself seething with rage at the audacity of their presumption. “But Kashmir was never yours,” I’d say in my mind. And sometimes, when more provoked: “You don’t deserve Kashmir!” And then I’d go home to my mother, whose ever present, unshed tears for her homeland were a leitmotif of our life in Mumbai.

 

Throughout my childhood, my family would go back to Srinagar (the ancestral home in Vazir Baugh had to be sold when my widower grandfather became too old to live alone) to stay with Muslim friends, with whom we shared a poignant empathy: we had lost Kashmir because we had moved away; they were losing it everyday, living there, witnessing its destruction. Over kawha, we would watch as the elders of our family weep for what had been.

 

Like a woman too beautiful for her own good, Kashmir was a tragedy even then. It produced an ache in our hearts when we heard its name and thought of its ill fate: and then, because you cannot sit weeping over lost Valleys all your life, when we returned home we put Kashmir on the backburner.

 

And on that backburner, Kashmir fermented Sheikh Abdullah, a man whose commitment to India was unquestionable, was humiliated, jailed, alienated. The most unimaginable genocide was committed on the people. Entire generations of its sons were mowed down by an army whose presence was as large as it was unpopular. And in its knee-jerk, misguided, ill-conceived approach to Kashmir the Indian polity revealed its shallowness.

 

But through this all, intrinsically, those of us who have Kashmir in our bloods, know that the Kashmiri Pandits who have been driven out of their homeland are not enemies of the Kashmiri Muslims, in fact they are both victims of the historic blundering of the Indian government’s Kashmir policy.

 

Take away Delhi’s political brinkmanship, take away the Hindutva sentiment that has played so neatly into the hands of Pakistan and its fishing-in-troubled-waters game and you may be surprised at how harmoniously Kashmir’s Hindus and Muslims can live.

 

So, on behalf of my mother, my family, and all those who have loved and lost Kashmir, I beg:   Please. We have done enough damage to and in Kashmir. Enough to last many lifetimes. The chinars are tinged with too much blood. We have failed Kashmir and we don’t deserve her anymore. Leave Kashmir alone. Set her free.

 

 

Email: s_malavika@dnaindia.net

Home | Viewpoint