Kashmiri views

Published : Dec 18, 2009 00:00 IST

DR GOCKHAMIS compilation of Sheikh Abdullahs speeches, statements and letters as well as agreements on Kashmir is a useful addition to the literature on the subject. It contains a lot of material which throws light on his outlook and his policies.

It begins with his presidential address to the Sixth Session of the Muslim Conference on March 26, 1938, just before he converted it to the National Conference. He said: Like us, the large majority of Hindus and Sikhs in the State have immensely suffered at the hands of the irresponsible government. They are also steeped in deep ignorance and are in debt and starving. Establishment of responsible government is as much a necessity for them as for us. Sooner or later these people are bound to join our ranks.... The main problem, therefore, now before us, is to organise joint action and a united front against the forces that stand in our way in the achievement of our goal. This will require rechristening our organisation as a non-communal political body and introducing certain amendments in its constitution and rules.

The editor has missed out a speech in 1939 in which Sheikh Abdullah attacked Mohammad Ali Jinnah for supporting the rulers. Jinnahs eyes were set on the Nizams Hyderabad, a failing which cost Pakistan dear. In Lahore on November 1, 1947, Mountbatten gave Jinnah a written proposal for a plebiscite in all three States Junagadh, Hyderabad and Kashmir. Jinnah rejected it because it covered Hyderabad.

Also included in the book is the Sheikhs speech on December 30, 1944, at the Sopore session of the National Conference in which he presented a leftist document on Naya Kashmir (New Kashmir). In August 1945, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, in his presidential address at Hazaribagh, Srinagar, in the presence of Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad, said: Apprehensions regarding majoritarian dictatorship are found [sic.] with Muslims of India and if these apprehensions can be removed, in particular, through the acceptance of the principle of right of self determination, then the Indian National Congress should have no hesitation to put it at the top of its agenda. In Kashmir, the National Conference has accepted it not as a faith for all the nationalities of the States of J and K only but in its wider connotations of culture and civilisation and for that purpose the National Conference has distinctively recorded it in the introduction of its constitution of the Naya Kashmir (New Kashmir).

However, only extracts, not the full texts, are printed. Fortunately, we have the texts of the letters he wrote to Maulana Mohammed Saeed Masoodi, general secretary of the National Conference, right on the eve of his arrest on August 8, 1953. He had publicly warned in the famous Ranbirsingh Pura speech on April 10, 1952: Kashmirs accession to India will have to be of a restricted nature so long as communalism has a foothold on the soil of India. We are prepared to welcome application of Indias Constitution to Kashmir in its entirety once we are satisfied that the grave of communalism has been finally dug in India. Of that we are not clear yet.

He made a clean breast of what was passing in his mind: Some people here and in the Indian press also have started questioning our very fundamental right to shape our destiny in our own way. They do not tell us what will happen to Kashmir if there is recurrence of communalism in India and how under those circumstances are we to convince the Muslims of Kashmir that India does not intend to swallow up Kashmir.

He added: So far as Kashmir is concerned, it wants to preach the mission of secular democracy both to India and Pakistan. Many Kashmiris fear that in case of the death of Nehru or any untoward happening what will happen to them or their special statutes I warn those who want Kashmirs full accession with India, in all affairs. They are once again adding fuel to the fire of dispute. In case the special status is not accorded to Kashmir in Indian Constitution then how can we talk to Kashmiri Muslims and assure them that India does not want to interfere in the internal affairs of Kashmir.

Many of his utterances have an astonishingly contemporary relevance. Texts of documents make this a useful work of reference.

The other two books are long on rhetoric and short on research and documentation. They, however, represent accurately the Kashmiri viewpoint and must be read widely.

The house in which Sheikh Saheb lived at Soura should be made a protected monument by the State government. A Shere-e-Kashmir Memorial Library and Research Centre should be set up there on the lines of the Nehru Memorial Museum & Library in Teen Murti House in New Delhi. Apart from being a library, the centre should be a repository of documents and private papers of public figures including, of course, Sheikh Saheb himself. Such a centre of learning will be a fitting memorial to a great man whom even the Hizb chief Syed Salahuddin praised recently, on September 29.

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