rough data

Azad Kashmir

Pakistan infobox
region = Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK)

capital = Muzaffarabad
latd = 34.22
longd = 73.28
pop_year = 2008
population = 4,567,982 (estimate)
languages= Urdu (official)
density_km2 = 306
area_km2 = 13,297
status = self-governing state under Pakistani control
districts = 8
towns = 19
unions = 182
established = 1948
governor = President Raja Zulqarnain Khan
minister = Prime Minister Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan
legislature = Legislative Assembly
seats = 49
website =
website_title = Government of Azad Kashmir
footnotes =

The Azad State of Jammu and Kashmir, usually shortened to Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) or, simply, Azad Kashmir (literally, "free Kashmir") is the southernmost political entity within the Pakistani-controlled part of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. It borders the present-day Indian-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir to the east (separated from it by the Line of Control), the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan to the west, the Federally Administered Northern Areas (FANA) to the north, and the Punjab Province of Pakistan to the south. With its capital at Muzaffarabad, Azad Kashmir covers an area of 13,297 km² (5,134 mi²) and has an estimated population of about four million. According to Pakistan's constitution, Azad Kashmir is not part of Pakistan, and its inhabitants have never had any representation in Pakistan's parliament. As far as the United Nations is concerned, the entire area of the former princely state of Kashmir and Jammu, including Azad Kashmir, remains a disputed territory still awaiting resolution of the long-standing dispute between India and Pakistan. In 1950, the government of India, ignoring a United Nations resolution on Kashmir, abandoned its pledge to hold a plebiscite and, in 1956, unilaterally annexed that portion of the former state that was under its control, thereby making that portion an integral part of India. The government of Pakistan, on the other hand, continues to this day to regard the entire area of the former state as "territory in dispute" to be resolved by a plebiscite to be held at some future date, in order to determine the entire area's accession to either India or Pakistan. While continuing to call for that plebiscite, however, the government of Pakistan has, so far, been unwilling to entertain the idea of a third option for the plebiscite, i.e., a choice of independence for the entire former state. Today, Azad Kashmir is still referred to by India as part of "Pakistan-occupied Kashmir" (POK) and, conversely, the present Indian-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir is referred to by Pakistan as "Indian-occupied Kashmir."

Azad Kashmir's financial matters, i.e., budget and tax affairs, are dealt with by the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Council, instead of by Pakistan's Central Board of Revenue. The Azad Jammu and Kashmir Council is a supreme body consisting of 11 members, six from the government of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and five from the government of Pakistan. Its chairman/chief executive is the president of Pakistan. Other members of the council are the president and the prime minister of Azad Kashmir and a few other AJK ministers.


After the partition of British India in 1947, the princely states were given the option of joining either India or Pakistan. However, Hari Singh, the maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, wanted Jammu and Kashmir to remain independent. In order to buy some time, he signed a stand-still agreement, which side-stepped the agreement that each princely state would join either India or Pakistan. [] As the maharaja hesitated, calls for union with Pakistan grew, particularly within Azad Kashmir. That development led to days of civil unrest and demonstrations that the maharaja tried to put down but which, instead, triggered a war between India and Pakistan. Nehru's government knew, although it never publicly admitted it, that there had been a fairly spontaneous revolt in the Jhelum valley and in other parts of what is now Azad Kashmir against the maharaja's purported decision to have his state accede to India.Fact|date=August 2008 That revolt is said to have occurred well before the raiders from the North-West Frontier Province and the Tribal Areas, who were backed by the Pakistani army, entered Kashmiri territory. [ [ South Asian Journal ] ] The people of Azad Kashmir are known for their strong martial spirit and have resisted invaders down through the ages, including the Sikhs, the British, and the Dogras. Leaders such as Raja Sultan Khan of Bhimber are etched into the memories of the Azad Kashmiri people, as are the famous rebellions of the Gakkhars of Mirpur and the Mangral Rajputs of Kotli. [] The British used the town of Mirpur as a recruiting ground for the British Indian army. [ [ Mirpur History - Prof. Suresh Chander ] ]

Azad Kashmir was awash with battle-hardened troops who had returned to their families after serving in the British army during the Second World War. In a series of pitched battles, the Dogra forces were practically wiped out due to the superior quality of the Azad Kashmir forces, and entire districts of Azad Kashmir such as Mirpur, Kotli, and Muzaffarabad were freed from Dogra rule. Upon hearing news of the fighting in Azad Kashmir and the plan to take the fight to Srinagar, tribal Pathan fighters from what is now known as the NWFP and FATA came to help their brethren. Having no need to head into Azad Kashmir, the tribal armies entered the Kashmir valley along with Pakistani forces to oversee operations. Upon their arrival in the valley, they were met by Indian troops. Contrary to the popular belief that once the raiders had arrived, Indian troops were only then flown in, Alastair Lamb, an eminent historian and author of a series of books on Kashmir, has uncovered evidence based on declassified military papers that India had Patalia gunners at the Sringar airport by October 17, 1947, and has scoffed at the Indian apologists who have said that India’s invasion of Kashmir was a triumph of improvisation. Instead, he states that India had troops mobilized for an invasion of Kashmir by October 25th, meaning that the Indian army was in Kashmir in advance of the maharaja's decision. With the Indian army already in Kashmir, it is obvious why the maharaja handed over his state to India. The Indian troops managed to push the irregular forces back but were then engaged by the intruding Pakistani army. Fighting continued, and the front managed to stabilise at points near what is known today as the "Line of Control." However, Pakistani forces held a great deal of the higher ground and key points, and the Indian armed forces were spread dangerously thin and were running short of supplies. The battle of Beri Pattan illustrates just how precarious the position of the Indian armed forces was among a hostile population. [ [ Pakistan Military Consortium :: ] ]

As that point, Jawaharlal Nehru, the prime minister of India, went to the U.N. for a cease-fire, which was agreed to by Pakistan. There was the promise of a referendum or plebiscite giving the people of Kashmir the right of self-determination. When it signed the ceasefire in 1948, India promised to offer the Kashmiris a plebiscite wherein they could decide whether to join India or Pakistan. In his own words on October 31, 1947, Jawaharlal Nehru wired Liaquat Ali Khan, Pakistan's prime minister, that his promise was "not merely a pledge to your government but also to the people of Kashmir and to the world." On November 2nd and 3rd, Nehru used the words "referendum under U.N. auspices." [ [ Nehru's legacy to India ] ]

The matter was brought up in the U.N., and resolutions were passed to hold a plebiscite with regard to Kashmir's future. Unfortunately, neither India nor Pakistan has ever undertaken a plebiscite in its respective area of control in Kashmir due to the violation of the second part of the UN resolution. [ [ UNCIP Resolution of August 13, 1948 (S/1100) - Embassy of India, Washington, DC ] ] . The legal requirement for the holding of a plebiscite was the withdrawal of the Indian and Pakistani armies from the parts of Kashmir that were under their respective control--a withdrawal that never did take place. In 1949, a cease-fire line separating the Indian- and Pakistani-controlled parts of Kashmir was formally put into effect. After the Indo-Pakistani war of 1971, that line changed significantly in a few areas, and the new line, which was formally agreed to in 1972, was designated as the "Line of Control," separating the Indian and Pakistani forces and the Indian- and Pakistani-controlled parts of the former princely state.

The Line of Control has remained unchanged [ [ UNMOGIP: United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan ] ] since the 1972 Simla pact which bound the two countries "to settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations." Some political experts claim that, in view of that pact, the only solution to the issue is mutual negotiation between the two countries without involving a third party, such as the U.N.

Following the 1949 cease-fire agreement, the government of Pakistan divided the northern and western parts of Kashmir which it held into the following two separately-controlled political entities:
# Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) - the narrow southern part, 250 miles (400 km) long, with a width varying from 10 to 40 miles (15 to 65 km).
# Federally Administered Northern Areas (FANA) - the much larger area to the north of AJK, 72,496 km² (27,991 mi² ), directly administered by Pakistan as a "de facto" dependent territory, i.e., a non-self-governing territory.

An area of Kashmir that was once under Pakistani control, but is no longer, is the trans-Karakoram tract--a small region along the northeastern border of the Northern Areas that was provisionally ceded by Pakistan to the People's Republic of China in 1963 and which now forms part of China's Uygur Autonomous Region of Xinjiang.


Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) is a self-governing state under Pakistani control but is not constitutionally part of Pakistan. It has its own elected president, prime minister, legislature, high court, and official flag. The government of Pakistan has not yet allowed the state to issue its own postage stamps, however, and Pakistani stamps are used, instead. The state is administratively divided into two divisions which, in turn, are divided into eight districts.


Azad Kashmir is predominantly Muslim. The majority of the population is culturally, linguistically, and ethnically related to the people of northern Punjab. The population of Azad Kashmir includes the following tribes:


Urdu is the national language of Azad Kashmir but is only spoken by a minority. The dominant language spoken in AJK is Pahari. It is very similar to Pothwari and Hindko.


In the latter part of 2006, billions of dollars for development were mooted by international aid agencies for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of earthquake-hit zones in Azad Kashmir, though much of those funds were sunsequently lost in bureaucratic channels, leading to delay in help reaching the most needy, and hundreds of people are still living in tents. [ [ Rs1.25 trillion to be spent in Azad Kashmir: Reconstruction in quake-hit zone - Dawn Pakistan] ] A land-use plan for Muzaffarabad city was prepared by the Japan International Cooperation Agency.


Notable Pakistani Kashmiris

*Lord Nazir Ahmed, member of House of Lords
*Karam Hussain, mayor of Kirklees, UK
*Ghulam Ahmad, author, educator and philanthropist
*Khawaja Zafar Iqbal, journalist
*Dr. Ali Adnan Ibrahim, scholar, lawyer and professional
*Saira Khan, BBC presenter
*Mian Muhammad Bakhsh, sufi saint
*Khalid Mahmood, member of parliament, UK
*Sheikh Younas Azam, kashmiri journalist (deceased)
*Shamas Rehman, activist
*Baba Shadi Shaheed, sufi saint
*Tassadaq Hussain Khan, former Chief of the Army
*Muhammad Aziz Khan, Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee, Pakistan Military
*Sardar Muhammad Anwar Khan, Vice Chief of General Staff
*Sardar Sabir Hussain Sabir, International Award winning Author, poet & prose writer.
*Tasnim Aslam, ambassador of Pakistan to Italy.
*Sardar Masood Khan, ambassador of Pakistan to the United Nations
*General(Retd)Muhammad Rahim Khan, former Chairman Pakistan International Airlines & Secretary General of the Ministry of Defence
*Major General(Retd)Muhammad Hayat Khan, former President of Azad Jammu & Kashmir


India must end terror wars in Kashmir!
Abdul Ruff Colachal
24 September 2008

Kashmir is gearing up for imminent independence from India. But for now, for any one who thought India might go for a gradual reduction of its terror forces deployed in Kashmir, killing, antagonizing and alienating Kashmiris, there is some more bad news. In stead of reduction, India has now decided to add more troops in Kashmir. As if the existing force posture is not sufficient, New Delhi will expand further scope for military hostilities killing innocent Kashmiris. JK Governor Vohra is reportedly having some secret discussions with Delhi leaders.

Ignoring the ground reality in Jammu Kashmir, the government of occupying India has apparently decided to go ahead wit its poll schedule so as to reduce the importance of the recent popular uprising for Kashmir freedom. As the very first step, as any imperialist and colonial power does, India has decided to solidify the military power in Kashmir. Accordingly, the Indian authorities have deployed additional 65 companies of para-military personnel in Kashmir and the heavy deployment of troopers will not be thinned until the assembly elections are held in the State.

The Indian Kashmir has witnessed one of the biggest ever anti-India and pro-freedom marches in the recent past, following the illegal Amarnath land deal in Kashmir by India.  According to estimates 1.8 million people participated in one of the freedom marches organized by the freedom leadership, some American media have expressed sympathy with Kashmiris. Kashmiris demand sovereignty from India. Kashmir was annexed by India in 1947. Jammu and Kashmir is the U.N. recognized disputed state under the illegal occupation of India since 1947. In fact there is no dispute but only a fact that Idnia illegally occupies Kashmir. Since 1988, the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir has been hit by confrontation between Kashmiri Freedom Fighters and the Indian Military, which has resulted in more than One hundred thousand of deaths. Unofficial sources put the number of Indian troops deployed in the state to seven hundred thousand.

After Popular Uprisng
India can no longer talk about "Kashmiri terrorism" , but only in terms of Indian terrorism. Recent Kashmir popular uprisng has sent out cold waves across the New Delhi’s corridors of power. With a view to suppress any freedommovement, thousands of gun and baton wielding troopers have been deployed across the valley after the recent uprising and staging of massive pro-freedom rallies and marches. Almost every major intersection in city and other parts is being manned by large contingent of troopers. In most places, CRPF and local police have been deployed to take on protestors. However, in some parts of Valley, BSF and Army have been deployed to prevent people from staging pro-freedom marches and rallies. The CRPF says the deployment would remain there until normalcy is restored in the Valley. “So far, there has been no relenting in the protests and agitation. We have asked our men on the roads to remain extra alert to meet any eventuality,” they said.

Keeping in view the present situation in Kashmir, the BSF personnel will continue to assist the police and civil administration in maintaining the law and order situation. At present, 15 companies of BSF have been stationed in the outskirts of Srinagar. These companies, which were deployed for smooth conduct of yatra, were retained by the authorities after mass uprising in the Valley. 50 companies of CRPF, which were deployed across the state for peaceful conduct of Amarnath yatra, have been deputed in Srinagar and other parts of the Valley to maintain law and order. In other words,, these terror forces would now take on the Kashmiris. Each CRPF company comprises 135 personnel. “Due to normalcy, we used to give longer period of rests to most of our men in the base camps. After the outbreak of agitation, we have deployed additional men on the already existing posts,” he said. Some BSF companies were airlifted to Srinagar to help the para-military personnel stationed in Kashmir maintain law and order and tackle the situation. One BSF official, however, said that conditions are not conducive for holding of assembly elections in the State.

Already it gives one gets the impression that Kashmir has more people belong to security services than the Kashmiri civilians, but India keeps adding more troops after creating fabricated issues and killing some Kashmiris.  Freedom leaders like Geelani are regularly arrested and they spend a lot of time in his lock up space. UN must institute an enquiry on Kashmir and send a  peace mission to arrange for the freedom of Kashmir. 

How much land does India need?
Upon tactfully annexing its neigbor Kashmir in 1947 as soon as it got freedom form british ruelrs, India used huge piles of Buristsh weaponry left behind by UK, in Jammu Kahsmir and fully militarized Kashmir over years. With a view to retian Kahsmiras a buffer zone between India and China and Pakistan, India has planed to retian Kashmir at any cost resutlng in regualr genocide of Kashmirs.

Kashmir is still burning and India seems to to keen this continues. Indian premeir visited the hospitalized Hindus in Delhi after the “blasts”last week, but he did not even bother to send good feelings to Kashmiris who were similarly hospitalized in Kashmir and killed by Indian terror shootings. Encouraged by New Delhi, Jammu has witnessed an intensely chauvinist, communal and violent agitation for over seven weeks over the cancellation of an illegal order transferring 100 acres of forest land to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board. This is pitting Jammu against Kashmir, ethnic groups against other ethnic groups, and Hindus against Muslims in dangerous new ways.

Massive demonstrations by general public occurred after Indian plan to annex some more land for Hindu purposes. As before, Indian State security forces and army cracked down on protesters with brute terror, more than 40 Muslims have been killed and at least 300 protesters have been detained, including the freedom leaders. Protests are on-going and Freedom Kashmiri Leaders Syed Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq have warned that the peaceful uprising can lead to violent upsurge if India's heavy-handed crackdown on protests are not restrained.

The origins of the conflagration in June 2008 in Kashmir on forest land allocation for construction of facilities for the Amarnath yatra lie in open state promotion of the pilgrimage. India now stadns for Hinduism and upholds Hindutva moorings not so much in words as in deeds. Offically India clalims tob e a dmeocratic and secular state, but inpractice it remians a Hindu state and , for all practical purpsoes it is an anti-Muslm state. Thus, what is otherwise a little known religious pilgrimage of the shaivite Hindus has been elevated to represent a patriotic enterprise. Now the Hindus who want to some how seek an interntional image for Hinduism which has been neglecting and suppressing the Muslims in India and killing Kashmiris, are encouraged even to equate the Amarnath with Mecca Kaabaa. Why should Indians suffer from such inferiority complexes at all?

A Word: Can an illegal occupier talk law?
A terrorst state that has killed over a lakh (rather lakhs of) free Kashmiris since 1947, India has been using all sorts of suveillance mechneary to track the Kashmir freedom seekers and killing them eventually. Hundreds and thousands of military personnel and weaponry have been amazed in Kashmir and every part of Kashmir is bieng infested with Indian terror agents. According to offical annoucements, there are some 800 "Kashmiri terrorists" in Kashmir, but why India needs lakhs of military perosnnel in Kashsmir?

India seems to tell the world a logic: if the USA could brutally occupy Afghanistan and Iraq and its global military ally Israel could “own” Palestine and other Arab lands and even could keep attacking and killing the Palestinians, why not India terrorize the Kashmiris, killing them and occupying their nation by brute force?

Obviously, cash rich India continues to challenge UN and UNSC that have criticized its terror activities in Kashmir recently. One doesn’t now if India seeks to showcase its military power to defeseless Kashmiris or to the world, especially Pakistan and China, or, alternatively, it seeks a total destruction by this kind of misadventures in Kashmir.

Kashmir is a stolen nation under Indian occupation and India has to surrender sovereignty back to Kashmiris, earlier the better! Does Indian law permit robbery, cheating, fraud, rape and genocide? And, constant militarization of its neighbor Kashmir? Will Indian judiciary step in to advise the badly shaken Indian leaders - and thoroughly confused by the advise of their strategists- to quit Kashmir at least now?


“In Search Of A Future:
The Story Of Kashmir”

By Mohamad Junaid

04 December, 2007

Book review: “In Search of a Future: The Story of Kashmir” By
Penguin/Viking; New Delhi 2007

A few decades ago, an academic process began, which put much of the 19th and early 20th century Western writings on the orient under close scrutiny. Critics like Edward Said found in these writings a highly prejudiced program of describing alien cultures in a bid to eventually control them. Describing and defining the Other embodied a discourse through which European culture also defined itself by attributing radically opposite tendencies to the Other. The Other, obviously, exhibited irrational as well as morally inferior characteristics. Control of such knowledge production was to supplement total military and economic control by the colonial powers of many parts of Asia and Africa.

The process of decolonization left awkward territorial constructions in its trail. Boundaries were drawn through traditional bonds of community, societies were ripped apart, and many communities were thrown into new systems of hierarchy in this melee. India and Pakistan were imposed on a subcontinent full of diverse aspirations for freedom and self-rule. As Nehru cleverly called his invention “The Discovery of India”, Jinnah, without thinking much about the geographic and cultural diversity of the Muslims in the subcontinent, grafted the two parts of his ‘Land of the Pure’ farthest from its most vehement votaries, and also from each other. India chose to write its history in a teleological form of progress and interruptions; one which naturally had to culminate in the formation of the present-day India; a point where the history itself would stop. Pakistan remained torn in its identity, as in its geography: while it saw its roots in the subcontinent, it kept looking westward to forge a larger Islamic identity. Either way, its history only started in 1947. India popularized an organic story of how it was a body, and Kashmir was its head (Many in India readily agreed, unfortunately because of the general cartographic bias of thinking north as up—glancing at the map upside down will put Kashmir in its proper place: Crushed under India’s foot.) Pakistan, on the other hand, first put premium on Kashmir’s rivers and then its people; it saw Kashmir as its jugular vein.

Kashmir, a place with more plausible claims to unique historical experiences and more or less a geographical continuity over ages, than both India and Pakistan, did not have to do much to imagine itself as a nation. True, it insisted that people of Jammu and Ladakh be part of that nation. But unlike India, which used aggressive power to force a union on the diverse peoples of the subcontinent, Kashmir only wished to achieve it. Its dream of independence, however, was not necessarily hinged to the continuity of that union.

Sixty years have passed since India and Pakistan snuffed out the best chances for the realization of an independent democratic Kashmir. Without any feeling of remorse, or putting the blame on their own houses, India and Pakistan are putting the entire burden of the sub-continental peace on the bruised Kashmiri shoulders. Kashmiris can formalize peace between the two giant colonial remnants by giving up their own ‘ambivalent’ aspirations to independence. They must learn the language of their conquerors. Or at least this is what David Devadas is suggesting in his book “In Search of a Future: The Story of Kashmir”.

Even as we celebrate the thirtieth year of Said’s canonical work, Devadas, reminiscent of laid-back colonial travelers of yore, has passed his casual judgment on all Kashmiris: They are sly, ambivalent, dissembling, cruel, irresponsible, and full of histrionics (and, yet, they are manipulated by their own leaders). They have a false ‘sense of superiority that emerges from a feeling of insecurity’, and possess ‘a hateful contempt-ridden past’. Only Kashmiris themselves, and no one but Kashmiris, are to be blamed for their miseries. He even goes on to say that Kashmiris are hugely caste-conscious. The last one sounds especially funny for he comes from a country where still entire villages of Dalits are burnt down, and their women are gang-raped by the upper castes; and where the upper castes believe violently that they alone have all claims to merit. Since he is positing Kashmir’s ‘separatism’ against India’s ‘inclusiveness’, Said would have instantly understood from Devadas’ maneuvers that he is assigning these negative values to Kashmiris to fashion a positive image of India as honest, clear, responsible, inclusive and non-melodramatic. Devadas, without pausing to tell us about India’s attitude in Kashmir, calls Kashmiri attitude ‘imperial and dominating’!

In Search of a Future is a (though the book’s subtitle suggests that it is “the”) story of Kashmir’s political history from 1931 up to 2006. It is well-paced, and manages to hold together. That all his respondents seem to tell him the same seamless story, for he cross checks no ones account with other historical material, raises early fears of the run-away journalist taking over a more restrained historian in him. The fears are proved right. The book claims to be written in a novelistic style, but Devadas seems to have missed the most essential point about the art of the novel: A novel doesn’t ossify the meaning of an action or an event but opens possibilities for their multiple interpretations. The book is based on a thin ethnography, building on interviews of former militants, and leading politicians both in India and in Kashmir. Since his canvas is spatio-temporally very large, it ignores the fine-grained interpretative explorations of the rich content of everyday Kashmiri life. Instead of thinking of culture as a context in which social events, behavior, institutions and processes can be intelligibly described, he is adamant on seeing the ‘common-behavior patterns’ of Kashmiris as their culture. Ergo, he finds, from his interviews with these former militants and leading politicians, that the common-behavior pattern of all Kashmiris is characterized by venality and narrow self-interests.

Using his blinkered stencil, or template, as Devadas prefers, Kashmiris don’t pass his test of morality or potential for selfless collective action. Speaking to former militants can sometimes give you that impression. For him, Kashmiris, while seeking independence, are only playing histrionics to squeeze more resources out of both India and Pakistan. The demand for the right to self-determination is ‘ambivalent’. Kashmiris are not clear in what they want. In any case, it would not matter to him even if they did know, for the right to self-determination is morally untenable for him in a postmodern age. He attributes the start of uprising in 1989 to trans-border Islamic winds, individual suffering of polling agents during 1987 assembly elections, and a week-long screening of the film ‘Lion of the Desert’ at a Srinagar talkie. For him, Kashmiri militants felt like Bombay cinema heroes, and that is how they wanted to feel. Since the book’s characterization of militancy is based on the interview of a few former militants, Karl Popper would have jumped up, and objected to this inductivist farce. Vast generalizations about ‘Kashmiri character’ are not only phony, but are frequently sneaked into the text to gloss over his lack of proper explanation. He accepts fables of how Kashmiris used guile to escape physical pain in the past to paint their character, but his own descriptions of Kashmiris’ undergoing inhuman torture in India’s interrogation cells are allowed to say nothing about the same character.

Devadas, despite his stated desire not to write a quickie, overlooks major historical inaccuracies in his account. Only a few examples: The elephant story that Kalhana attributed to Mihiragula (6th century), Devadas attributes to the Mughal Empress Nurjahan (16th century). He insists that the last Kashmiri king was Sahadeva who decamped in 1320 in the face of a Mongol invasion. In this, he trusts only the Kashmiri Hindu narrative. That most Kashmiris believe the last Kashmiri king was Yusuf Shah Chak, whose poet-queen Habba Khatun’s songs still ring in Kashmiri homes, is conveniently ignored. His eagerness to indict Muslims of Kashmir, to fit the stereotype he has forged for them, pushes him to make misplaced accusations, like: Muslims heaved insults on Hindus by calling them ‘Bhattas’ behind their back. T N Madan, in his ethnographic work on Kashmiri Hindus, points out that ‘Pandits refer to themselves, and are referred to by other Kashmiri-speaking people, as the Bhatta. The word is of Sanskrit origin and means a learned person.’ Or, for that matter, Dar’s a common Muslim and Hindu surname, and the word ‘Dar’ is not pejoratively used against Hindus, as Devadas suggests. What historian Jerome Bruner once said looks apt here: How much are we to bend the paradigmatic truth to fit the believability of the narrative mode? Especially when Devadas claims that ‘every bit of the book is fact’.

Devadas loves characterizations. In his account, Abdullah’s ‘bile never takes long to rise’; while a ‘solicitous Nehru’ gets concerned if Abdullah has toilet paper in the prison to which he has sent him. His book is peopled by a wily Masoodi, a loutish Zargar, a radiant Guga, an effeminate Yasin, a scheming Geelani, and many Pakistani spooks. But Indira is invincible. Bakshi becomes Budshah sani—Great King II, (first being Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin). His two purported main characters, Aftab and Ali Sheikh, keep leaping out of the text, and soon become an appendage to the main story. Whenever they come in, their extraordinary lives are turned into a vignette for entire Kashmir’s ‘frustration’ and ‘depravity’.

Falling into a familiar narrative trope, Devadas uses terms like ‘smoldering Id rage’, ‘smelting Islamic fervor’, etc. to describe the mood of Muslim peasants agitating against their oppressive Hindu overlords. But when Hindus attack Muslims it passes of innocently in his text, without any polemic. In a similar vein, when a militant kills an innocent civilian, the entire Kashmiri character, along with its history, is put to trial; but when Indian troops kill people it is quietly swept away as individual aberration. The politics of partial and farcical assigning of culpability is, thus, revealed quite openly in the pages of his book.

Speaking of tropes, Devadas’ book does not move away from the apocryphal rhetoric of foreign powers using Kashmir against India. This narrative strategy is used to evoke sympathy for India’s state-building project, even if it romps oppressively over the demands of independence of other politically-conscious communities, like the Kashmiris or the Nagas. This brings us to an ironic realization of how post-colonial academic and political world unwittingly creates the illusion that decolonization is complete. It makes easy for India, a former colony, to label Kashmiris, still occupied, agents of the ex-colonial powers. Their human rights get a short-shrift for no international guarantors dare speak for them. As while India bares its teeth to the colonized nationalities in its own backyard, it cries foul in front of the erstwhile colonial powers.

Devadas puts the burden of safety of India’s 160 million Muslims on Kashmiri Muslims. This is not the first time, and he is not alone in this. Indian analysts like Kanti Bajpai, Sumit Ganguly, and Ashutosh Varshney, too, speak of an impending apocalypse for Indian Muslims if Kashmir were to separate. Along with its much touted secularism, Kashmir is also the hinge on which India’s federalism rests. Balkanization is invoked in response to a demand for the right to self-determination. One needs to seriously question the legitimacy of this discourse. If the safety of Indian Muslims rests on which way Kashmir goes, then it is bad news for secularism. And Muslims must be told how precariously their lives hang in balance in India.

Devadas’ book is full of bitterness. In his black and white world, he comes to loath Kashmiris, and isn’t very subtle about it. After a ‘detailed research conducted over the past nine years’, what dawns on him, about a people ‘who converted to Mir Ali’s syncretistic Islam’ six centuries ago, is that they can never be happy, because contentment has always eluded them. Devadas is not willing to go to the root itself: question the legitimacy of Indian rule in Kashmir.

Mohamad Junaid
Research Scholar
International Politics
New Delhi—110067

© 2008 All rights reserved.SAJJAD SARWAR SAHHAR

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