Book Review: “Kashmir: Exposing the Myth behind the Narrative”
Name: Kashmir: Exposing the myth behind the narrative
Author: Khalid Bashir Ahmad
Price: INR ₹342.40
Publication date: 23 Jun 2017
Publisher: Sage Publications Pvt. Ltd
History is a mystery. It is even true when the history documents the communities that are being slaves for centuries. As they say “Until lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter”. Dependence on the old chronicles may leave space for some wrong narratives to flourish, and then the next generations are usually left with no choice but to accept it as gospel truth. Also, some influential persons of any community may try to manipulate the historical facts, and even succeed, for the vested interests of their community . These two problems have happened with the history of Kashmir that is now with us, a collection of myths and wrong narratives.
Kashmir: Exposing The Myth behind the Narrative by Khalid Bashir Ahmad, a former civil servant, is an attempt to blow away the fog over the realities of Kashmir and question the myths that historically and rationally don’t seem correct. The forcible mass conversion of Hindus, Hindu mass agitation in 1967 and mass migration of Hindus in 1990 are the main mythical happenings debunked by the author through this book, besides discussing the origin of Kashmiri people and discarding the Naga-origin myth. Keeping in view the credentials and credibility of references, the author has exposed those myths with all historic and rational proof. Depending on such reliable sources, the author has highlighted the mischief done by the classical historians and challenged their facts and logic. The history is silent about the religion of the ancient Kashmir. Its mythical origin that it was a waterbody called “Satisar” in which lived a supernatural creature called “Nagas”, who could change their form from snakes to humans and vice versa depending on their will, flourished. Despite its peculiarity, it was a believed fact and thus the stories like “Heemal-Nagrai” emerged. The author has in fact fully discarded the myth and tactfully proved the reality. It is important here to mention that the author has proved it by historical facts and happenings in connection with archaeological excavations.
Moving forward, he has proved the deceit of Kalhana and the bias found in his chronicle, the Rajtirangani. Not by his will but by the facts and old happenings and also by the internal peculiarities of the said sourcebook, he has come with new findings. Describing Kalhana as a great versifier and not a research-based writer, he has explained his use of mind’s eye in the compilation of his chronicle. In this regard, some staunch followers of this versifier have questioned the author’s credentials to challenge Kalhana, but they must know that the facts are itself credentials and falsehood disgust.(quoted from: “Ksahmir-Exposing the myth behind the narrative -a reviewers prejudice by Syed Imran Zia, published in Kashmir Observer dated: June, 26 2018). Kalhana is not a deity who could not be questioned and neither is his scripture god’s word that can’t be questioned. He who writes the history of 4000 proceeding years without much proof, needs cross check and the author did it.
Kalhana, a shivite Hindu, undoubtedly had consulted 11 scriptures but excluding NilamataPurana none of these books are available with us for comparison. His contemporaries have described him as a poet and, his book, as things he has written, as an imaginary human work that could only be possible by the intuition.
The author defends Sultan Sikander, as he has been accused of destruction of Temples and forcible Hindu mass conversions. Some sort of communal conflict has been narrated without legs to stand upon. Author has successfully questioned and stated that the mass conversion was not out of force but, by the goodwill of the converters. Further narratives included the 1967 Hindu mass agitation and mass migration in 1990. The Hindu agitation that started with an inter-community marriage, was totally hijacked by the Hindu extremist organizations. They successfully tilted the movement from a simple marriage to communal violence that later on claimed many lives, a thing that Muslims never want. The author has successfully unveiled the brutality of Kashmiri Pandits on Muslims with the help of KAP (Kashmir Armed Police) and CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force). Referencing from the ancient chronicles, the author has highlighted the conspiracy of Kashmiri Pandits against Muslims. Talking about another narrative, whose consequences could be the worst, the mass migration of Kashmiri Pandits, he links it with rigging of 1987 elections that basically became the main cause of the military uprising in the 90s. It was said the pandits of Kashmir were threatened by Muslims to convert, leave or die. The author has, on relationship grounds, unveiled the actual plan. It was a plan of government to evacuate Hindus from Kashmir and then kill Kashmiris en masse, as said by some Pandit leaders. Author quotes with reference to K.L. Koul,
“In the first week of February 1990, a word was sent to the members of the Pandit community in Kashmir and they were asked to migrate to safer places. [PG. 243]”.(further refrences can be availed on pages no. 241,242).
He further blamed the government for the Pandit migration who were caught unaware. Discussing the whole anarchy of Kashmir, the author, for real, has accused media as the main party in spreading false reports about Kashmir in India. He has concluded that the opinion of all the concerned was judged by the Hindu press that was obviously biased and did false stories to actuate Hindus outside India to stand, irrationally, against Muslims. Besides this, he has discussed the facts and figures of the involvement of officers and other servicemen in running the government machinery. Author has pointed out that the Kashmiri Muslims were deprived of jobs even though they deserved. Muslims, who comprised of the majority community were in a miniscule minority in terms of employment and Hindus were seen everywhere. This disproportionate discrimination was an outcome of Hindu superiority in the society.
By this, one may think that the author has narrated the communal violence of Hindus and has been emotional for Muslims and may have veiled their mischief. Nay! The author has side to side produced facts and stories revealed by the Hindu people of the peaceful nature of kashmiri Muslims in respect to Kashmiri Hindus. In this context Author writes with reference to Professor Manohar Nath Tikoo:
“I still remember that fateful day when I was forced by none other than my own wife and daughters to leave. All my Muslim neighbours came to my home bidding my family a fond farewell with tearful eyes.[page. 233].
And as for as the killing of some kashmiri Pandits is concerned, the author has noted that this was mostly because of their conspiracy and for their alleged involvement as collaborators and informers.[page 229. Reference to Anuradha Bhasin.].
Being much successful in exposing the myths created by false narratives, the author has skipped the much believed myth associated with the tribal invasion from Pakistan commonly called as “Raid” back in 1947. It has many narratives with respect to each party. It, in a narrative finds Pakistan guilty and India in the other and tribals in another. This myth should have been exposed by the author. Also, proving with facts that the Mass Migration of Hindus from Kashmir in 1989 was a “Jagmohan Gameplan” [page: 244], the author doesn’t seem much successful in discarding the proofs given in defence by Jagmohan Malhotra in his book “My Frozen Turbulence In Kashmir”. Giving the reference of an unpublished press release and some anonymous writers’ paragraphs doesn’t seem to me a very successful attempt. Author seems lazy to provide much and authentic proofs to justify the accusation of Jagmohan as mastermind of migration of Hindus. Notwithstanding, the proofs provided by Jagmohan in his defence too cannot be trusted but cannot be rejected too without proof.
In order to get the real account of Kashmir history and to understand the allegations by this community, this is a must-read book.
Author is student of finance at GDC Handwara and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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