On October 21st, Arundhati Roy, Delhi University professor S.A.R. Geelani, Jammu and Kashmir University professor Sheikh Showkat Hussain, writer Varavara Rao, activist Sujato Bhadra and writer Shuddhabrata Sengupta got together at LTG Auditorium at a seminar organised by The Campaign for Relief of Political Prisoners; where they discussed the rights of “Kashmiris” to decide out the future of Kashmir. Outside and inside, Kashmiri Pandits were protesting and being arrested, while self-appointed keepers of Kashmiriyat – like Shuddhabrata, Arundhati were busy eloquently speaking how “Kashmiris should decide Kashmir’s future”.
What is telling is that no one – least of all the speakers on the dias – saw any irony and hyprocrisy in the situation!
The hyprocrisy of the situation is exactly the hyporcrisy that defines the entire situation of Kashmir. Kashmir and Kashmiriyat is euphemism for right of Kashmiri Muslims to that land. Nothing more and nothing less. If that means throwing out the Kashmiri Pandits and other communities from the LTG Auditorium or from Kashmir itself, then so be it.
For centuries – what started with Mahmud of Ghazni and was furthered by “Sufis” like Sayyid Ali Hamdani, Amir Sayyid Muhammad, Amir Shamsud-Din Muhammad Iraqi (Definitive Story of Kashmir: Part I) and others was later taken up by the fighters of Pakistan who raped and pillaged villages and the villagers – Sikhs, Hindus, and even Nuns (Definitive Story of Kashmir: Part II). This work was finally completed by Bitta Karate,Yasin Malik and Javed Mir – backed strongly by the Pakistani Government. Hundreds of thousands of families of Kashmiri Pandits were either destroyed or forced out of their homeland.
Beyond the destruction of Hindu ethos, conversions in millions, the ethnic cleansing of 80s and 90s set the stage for one of the greatest farce in the history of Human Rights and Freedom – “Kashmiri Independence”. Goal of Islamization of Kashmir was given a new word “Freedom”. And Kashmiri meant simply Kashmiri Muslim!
When the Generalities become euphemism for selective specificities, and people can’t even see the obvious hypocrisy, then it speaks volumes about the sensibilities and intelligence of the common citizenry. The Arundhatis and Shuddhabratas of course have their own agendas. They have very little productive capability through which to contribute to the society and earn for themselves. So they choose agendas and have their God-fathers who can help run their ego-factories. So, they aren’t the ones I am talking about. I am talking about those who apparently don’t come with agenda and have ability to earn an honest days wage should have at least seen through the hypocrisy of the situation that unfolded at the LTG Auditorium.
Until the Pandits remain the irritant in the “Kashmiri Freedom”, to view the issue of Kashmir as a democratic or Human Rights or Human Expression and Freedom issue is to make a mockery of our collective intelligence. Kashmir is a religious issue. Actually, it is simply an attempt at Islamization. Nothing more. Nothing less.
As for Arundhati, who goes around swearing solidarity with Geelanis and the Kashmiris of a certain religious hue, while the “other Kashmiris” are being jostled out of the venue; she has the chutzpah and the nerve to give hypocritical “Mom and the Apple Pie” statements when cornered:
“I spoke about justice for the people of Kashmir who live under one of the most brutal military occupations in the world; for Kashmiri Pandits who live out the tragedy of having been driven out of their homeland; for Dalit soldiers killed in Kashmir whose graves I visited on garbage heaps in their villages in Cuddalore; for the Indian poor who pay the price of this occupation in material ways and who are now learning to live in the terror of what is becoming a police state.”