Dr. Abdul Ahad on how the concept of “Kashmiriyat”came into being and became a household phrase within a short span of time.
BY DR.ABDUL AHAD
That the whole Kashmir would be graduated in the crescent to hug the breasts of green flag and relish the taste of rock salt was a venomous remark; too seditious a phrase to pique his Lords terribly. Such a fierce outburst—still not known who among the audience reported it to the Prime Minister’s office with great promptness same time, same day—was bound to raise a few hackles at 7-Race Course, New Delhi and a ripple of unease throughout India. It was too intolerable a comment to enrage and provoke Mrs Indra Gandhi outrageously into delivering an immediate effective and intimidatory riposte from aboard:
Farooq tiflana harkatoo say baz nahi aatta hai
These were the raving remarks she made public the following morning. All India Radio’s Urdu service trumpeted these through its repeated broadcasts for several days. However, the Club discussion continued without a hitch; encouraging Dr. Farooq to display his histrionic talents and innate abilities of trumpery and boastful talk, most probably, intended, to recreate the spell of his father’s charisma in order to have his day with an aura of confidence. He seemed hell-bent on reviving and reselling his father’s symphonic slogans as a remedy for ongoing inundation and onslaught against Kashmir’s autonomy. But when made to realize that the Shiekh’s slogans were no more relevant as they had lost their sheen and efficacy and were suffering from epilepsy since the days of ‘Accord’ and the screening of a film Umar Mukhtyar at the Regal Cinema; he gave an inquisitive look, searching forward to seeing new strategies to cope up with the problem. The answer he got was “Kashmiriyat”, an antidote to an over used slogan: Izzat-oo-abroo-ka-muqqam
This slogan was more like a most dearly held ‘wisdom’ of the legendary hero of Kashmir, the pearls of which reflected his lofty dream and wistful longing for a feudal plutocracy and Sheikhdom in the lap of Himalayas. Proverbially known for its baffling vagueness, the priggish slogan was so inseparably linked with the Shiekh’s psyche that he often used it as a protective political weapon for browbeating his enemies both at home and abroad during his long propinquity to the Indian State. Having assumed the shape of a mantra due to its compulsive use and obsession, this metaphoric phrase implied nothing but his wishful fantasy to bear like the Turk no rival near the throne.
It was too great and so good of Dr. Farooq Abdullah to accept frankly the redundancy of izzat-oo-abroo, his family slogan. He even volunteered sprightly to prevent the recrudescence of this ‘proud’ royal inheritance in the changed political scenario and vowed never to bow to the wishes and diktats of feudal lords in a typical vernacular idiom:
aagar maines badnus tokare te gatsun benaa jookoa na hargiz
It was his tacit admission not only of Delhi Darbar’s feudal highhandedness but also of his father’s burning ambition to mount the peacock throne and hollyhock of Knighthood and medieval glamour, rather than of independence as mistakenly believed by many. It also signified muqam-i-abroo’s utter failure to encompass and project Kashmiri aspirations in their totality and proper perspective; an honest recognition of its having been reduced to a mere hoary old Joke; an adequate acknowledgement of the need for a more sanguine and pragmatic approach to deal with our problems and; a proper appreciation of the growing necessity for a new support system and a substitute concept for the realization of a desired collective change.
That there could be no better thing to showcase our aspirations than “Kashmiriyat”—which is presently one of our immediate national aversions and abhorrence – was debated for a while and, subsequently, deemed advisable in the given circumstances. It was, accordingly, set in motion at one day seminar, held at S.P. College, Srinagar, a few days after the conclusion of Club discussion, under the Chairmanship of Syed Shahab-ud-Din, a noted parliamentarian of India. Marking the beginning of an epochal churning of Kashmiri attitudes and a qualitative shift in our not so assertive endeavours directed towards the attainments of our political targets, the seminar evoked considerable interest among the audience, comprising of intellectuals, academics, legislators and politicians of different hues. Followed by a variety of stormy discussions and thought-provoking and ruminating counter-arguments, it helped us to enunciate opinions and bring together disparate viewpoints to reconcile ourselves to the new concept of “Kashmiriyat”.
But it must be remembered that there was nothing else for it but to signify a change of attitude that the people were the real masters of their destinies; a panacea for our political, social and economic misfortunes; a propellant to force out inner Kashmiri urges, skills and energies and promote indigenous arts and crafts, agriculture, horticulture and floriculture for marketing of brand Kashmir across the world to ensure our self-sufficiency; a stratagem to protect our environment against degradation and our country-side against urban vandalism; a modus vivendi to preserve and conserve our forests, pastures, streams, rivers and other water bodies and our invaluable heritage and distinct ethos; an instrument of our emancipation from the bondage of pride, perfidy, penury, prejudice and backwardness and other pernicious social evils, like dowry, ignorance, superstition etc; and an ideology strong enough to protect us as a nation against splitting into small fragments with conflicting interests and a variegated assortment of opinions and views.
With these visionary insights, the seminar made quite a big hit; leaving an indelible imprint on the intelligentsia, the intellectuals, the academics, the regular coffee goers and the community of most volatile and impressionable young students and matured teachers. No wonder they began, enthusiastically, vocalizing their deep emotions, impulses and feelings through the medium of “Kashmiriyat”; making it so popular that it became a household phrase within a short span of time.
Dr. Farooq Abdullah too was greatly inspired by its loud acclamation. Out of watching this spectacle closely, he got such a vicarious thrill that he soon jumped on the opposition bandwagon to enfold the forces inimical to the all pervasive image of the unitary features of the Indian Constitution and struggling for the establishment of federal form of government. He even extended huge logistic support to a distinctly hostile Conclave of the Indian opposition leaders held in Srinagar in 1984, where he got stuck in the midst of a cacophony of Indira bashing and Indian hegemony. And as a result his relations with the centre got absolutely sour, and finally severed; leading to the dismantling of his diadem much to the disappointment of power addicted “mader-i-meharban”, and completely in keeping with what the poet has expressed in this rhyming couplet:
iss ghar koo aag lag gaie
ghar kay chirag say
Unable to reconcile with the situation of unceremonious exit of their belligerent kin, the dear ones of the virtuous Kashmir dynasty persuaded Dr. Farooq into redeeming the awfulness of his pertinacity and antipathy to the centre. They even resorted to reproaching and reprimanding him till they succeeded in tightening the noose around his neck to convert him into a staunch ally, a loyal conformist and a frontline flag bearer of the Indian nationalism.
The words which had spellbinding impact on him were: ‘Farooq be the Chief Minister’; ‘Farooq be the Chief Minister’. Most frequently whispered in his ears by the potential beneficiaries of this portfolio, including his kith and kin, these words ultimately put him on the “right” track. He agreed to respect his family sentiments by commencing to trample the effluvium of “Kashmiriyat”; making it what it represents presently and, thereby, fully and fairly vindicating the proverbial wisdom:
anem soi, wawum soi
lajem soi pane saai
panun raeth pansei math
Dr. Abdul Ahad is a well-known historian of Kashmir. He presents a perspective on the Kashmir issue and talks about Kashmir’s history and individuality and personality.