A Nation without an identity

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During the recent years, the indigenous Kashmiri struggle has been challenged by a number of potential hazards. The foremost threat to its continuation is a distinctive polarization on the basis of religion despite of the fact that the state of Jammu &Kashmir provides some of the clearest instances of shared religious identities in the world.


In truth, the Kashmir knot has assumed quite a different shape over the years from what it appeared at the time when the issue was taken up by the UNO in 1948. It is just not a dispute over a territory but a thorny political enigma and a perpetual threat to the peace in the region. Now, the issue is also linked to the future of a Nation. During the last few years the political tendency among Kashmiris gave heavy emphasis onreligion. Whereas, the indigenous Kashmiri struggle when it started in 1989-1990 was provoked by the socio-economic factors and a growing sense of deprivation.


Though Kashmir issue played an important role to create an atmosphere of animosity between two neighboring countries, much of this rivalry was owing to the pre-independence environment of misconceptions and delusions. The Kashmiris as a people silently witnessed their exploitation in the years after partition. The succeeding years brought a misconception that Kashmiris were a people who could be traded. Another misconstruction was there that Kashmiris were a coward nation. Such a derogatory treatment increased the sense of resentment and bitterness among Kashmiris. Moreover, the political governments in both parts of Jammu & Kashmir set unhealthy socio-economic models which propagated dissatisfaction and mistrust among the masses.


On international scene the decade of 80s saw a remarkable change as oppressed societies around the world decided that it was time for a change. The winds of change swept across Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The Soviet empire disintegrated and the whole world got a new look. This was enough to give inspiration to the oppressed Kashmiris, who have been denied the right to self determination for half a century and who had been governed by corrupt rulers. Therefore they decided to take up arms against oppression and injustice.


In essence, the current uprising in Kashmir is a movement to assert an inborn right of human beings to live with dignity. Self respect and self esteem as a nation are the pith and marrow of this assertion. A nation can live without self rule but it can not survive without self assertion. This was the massive and spontaneous overflow of the popular feelings which transformed into an uprising.

But the last few years have seen a clear shifting of the ideological emphasis of this movement from a nationalistic character to a religious one. Some of the groups that were in the forefront of the armed insurgency in 1989 particularly the resistanceelements advocating nationalism in Jammu and Kashmir have receded into the background.


In its larger perspective, it was a stringent blow on the resistance movement of Kashmiris to marginalize the nationalistic elements. Perhaps, those who wanted to cash in on Kashmir were not brave enough to devise some other reason to amass arsenal in the region. Therefore, a movement of self assertion was given a religious color. An eminent Indian bureaucrat Mr. Wajahat Habibullah asserts in his special report “the political economy of the Kashmir conflict “that “an ethnic conflict was given a religious color.“ During the past few decades there have been organized efforts to manipulate the indigenous movement of Kashmiri people by aggressive revivalist overtures.


The Kashmiris have over five thousand years old written history. They have evolved their own distinct cultural tradition and philosophy because of their peculiar disposition and natural bent. Throughout the ages they have remained peace loving and submissive.


Similarly, the story of aggression on life, culture and religion of the indigenous people of Kashmir has not its origin in the partition of India. It only added a new dimension to an age old tradition of invading the land of beauties. But, right from the genesis ofKashmir issue, there have been frequent though indistinct references by the historians, politicians and intellectuals to propose various solutions to this problem on the basis of Kashmiriat.


For instance, the state of Jammu and Kashmir presents a classic blend of linguistic and ethno-religious diversity. Historically, the entire state is composed of three geographical divisions. But as far as its ethnic disposition is concerned, the census report of 1941 provides an insight into the diversified nature of this peculiar piece of land on earth. The language situation in the State before independence is interestingly beautiful. The 1941 census listed Kashmiri, Dogri, Gujari, Rajasthani, Pahari, Balti, Ladakhi and Shina as the main languages spoken in the State. Among them Kashmiri commanded the largest number of speakers with Dogri at second and Gujari at third positions respectively.


Circumstantial evidence indicates that there have been an organized efforts and official patronage by the authoritarian and dictatorial elite on both sides of the divided state to suppress the growth of Kashmiri language and culture. Till now, the teaching of Kashmiri has not been introduced at school levels in both parts of the state. Not only that, no textbooks in Kashmiri are available even though a set of such books was prepared by experts.


If Sindhi and Pushto can be taught in schools, why not Kashmiri languages have been given such consideration? This is despite the general desire among Kashmiri masses to have Kashmiri languages as medium of instructions particularly at the primary and middle schools. In past, 83 per cent of the respondents of a survey in Kashmir valley showed their preference for use of Kashmiri as a medium of instruction at primary levels.


It is not a mere coincidence that all the names having Kashmiri identity have been changed and personalized. In this manner, the traditional and cultural heritage ofKashmir has been thrown into oblivion. The new generation of Kashmiris do not find themselves acquainted with the decencies of Kashmiri culture and civilization.

The polarization in the name of religious incongruity has played havoc to the Kashmiri fabric. Therefore, a true spirit of Kashmiriat can be restored only after giving rightful place to the indigenous Kashmiri tradition and culture. Due to unjust and unfair treatment of their identity, Kashmiris have come to feel discarded and deceived by the rest of the world. Much of this sentiment can be termed as general behavior of a people who has been mistreated and misunderstood anywhere in the world.


In essence, Kashmiris are a peace loving nation whose opportunities to prosper have been curtailed due to misguided policies in the region since partition of the subcontinent.



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