“There has never been a religious problem in the Vale of Kashmir. Hindus and Moslems, we are of the same racial origin, we have the same customs, wear the same clothes, speak the same language. In the street, you cannot distinguish between Moslems and Brahman Pandits. Why, we even have a mosque in the wall of which a Hindu temple has been built. In Kashmir we have Hindu and Sikh refugees from West Punjab and Moslem refugees from East Punjab..”
Sheikh Abdullah in an interview to Micheal Davidson of the The Scotman published in April 14 1949 and quoted by A G Noorani in his Frontline article dated May 27, 2016.
One thing which the RSS and BJP succeeded in last two years is that they were able to bring into mainstream what the fringe groups have been harping for several decades. They succeeded in problamatising secularism, downplaying the contribution of Jawaharlal Nehru in nation building and now they have the audacity even to tell that Muslims are second class citizens in India. All this are accepted as debating points by self serving intellectuals and some in the mainstream media.
BJP president Amit Shah’s jibe against Jawaharlal Nehru’s Kashmir policy is to be seen through this prism. He blamed India’s first premier for agreeing for truce in 1948 when Kashmiri ‘tribals backed by Pakistan army invaded Kashmir. According to Amit Shah this was the greatest blunder committed by the Indian leader. And Shah continued to say that if Nehru had not committed that blunder then Kashmir issue would not have existed. Ironically he was speaking at a function at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) in New Delhi.
NMML incidentally is housed in the sprawling Teenmurti Bhawan, the official residence of the first prime minister.
As various historical materials suggest Kashmir issue was not religious, nor was it just a result of the decision of Jawaharlal Nehru to agree for truce when ‘tribals’ invaded Kashmir.
Nehru always wished to annex Kashmir to India. Many historians quoting from the various communications Nehru had with British authorities have established this.
A G Noorani, who wrote extensively on Kashmir quotes from the collected works of Nehru ” The normal and obvious course appears to be for Kashmir to join the Constituent Assembly of India. This will satisfy both the popular demand and the Maharaja’s wishes. It is absurd to think that Pakistan would create trouble if this happens.”
How Kashmir acceded to India after the ‘tribals’ entered from Pakistan, soon after partition, and what was the negotiations that took place at various levels are there for anybody to see.
But RSS would always believe that Kashmir was an integral part of the country and it should have been militarily conquered at the time of independence even though popular Kashmiri leaders like Sheikh Abdullah was resisting it.
At core of RSS view on Kashmir lies its imagined idea of India.
India as a nation for them existed for centuries before British or Mughals came.
But the historians of various hues have scientifically argued that India as a nation evolved through the national movement.
In the national movement which gained momentum during the later half of British rule, was the product of the political stand of the Congress , various social movements, and in the later period the socialist and communist movements.
The RSS started in 1925 contributed nothing in these movements. Most times they were aligned on the opposite side of the national movement.
Amit Shah, in his urgency to belittle and liquidate Nehru’s contributions is either ignorant of this or he is suffering from selective amnesia.
Kashmir has bleeding ever since India started treating it as a geographical area that is to be ‘protected’ by the might of the army.
The promise of plebiscite which New Delhi failed to honour have alienated the people.
Rigged elections and army’s ubiquitous presence through out the Valley ensured it becomes a fertile ground for separatists and militants who get support from across the border.
It was failed promises of Nehru, not the promises as such that aggravated Kashmir issue.
But for the people like Amit Shah whose ideology forces them to view nation as geographical area, conquested militarily may find it difficult to comprehend.
Excesses committed by armed forces, illegal detention, torture etc are for them an exercise in nation building.