Occupying Kashmir by Comparison: on one-sided ‘debates’ on Kashmir

The debate “Nationalism vs. Separatism” on NDTV last week looked promising in the beginning. For once the host, Barkha Dutt, keeping aside her usual national-security drivel, began by asking some pertinent questions, and the academic voices in the panel set the tenor of the debate right. Given NDTV’s habit of pulling together a big crowd of relevant and irrelevant speakers, however, the debate lost track and sank into a pointless and an all-too-familiar noise. This noise, let it be said, works perfectly well for the Indian establishment because it gives them a chance to say, “Look, we give ‘em an opportunity to speak; what a great democracy we are!”. And Kashmiris, the few carefully selected for a momentary right of free public expression on their TV, come off sounding tired and tedious; their voices lost in the din.

Sunil Khilnani, who is a US-based academic, asked the right question: the trouble is with the idea of India itself, in the way it seeks to run roughshod over different identities and affiliations with its singular, homogenous Indian identity. The point, in fact, goes even further, one which Khilnani did not (could not get a chance to) speak about. The real problem is the twin construction of India and of Hinduism as organic wholes—territorial consolidation of one, and the ‘semiticization’ of the other—with the former acting as the sacred space where the latter, the sacred community, must exercise its sovereignty. That there was nothing called “India” or “Hinduism” before the Brahmanical elite and their British colonial masters found it entirely in their own interest to engineer these territorial and cultural monoliths, has not been in much popular discussion. Both concepts are so naturalized and consecrated in public consciousness that questioning them is tantamount to blasphemy. In its present shape India is actually an empire which is masquerading as a modern state. The Indian rhetoric of “secular nationalism” has acted as a liberal cover in international fora for a swelling Hindu imperium, which was territorially achieved in 1947. The Indian elite has gratefully allowed the use, and continuous manufacture, of a Hindu civilizational self-identity to justify the empire.

Khilnani spoke only a little about the idea of India. He did not extend his argument to reflect on how the Hindu consciousness underlies the idea of Indian nationalism. Yet even the preliminary remark that there are a number of nationalisms jostling for recognition within the territorial space of the Indian state is appreciable. It, at least, gave a lie to the binary of the show’s name: “Nationalism” vs. “Separatism”. To give due recognition to Kashmiri nationalism has been unthinkable in India; they call it by other names: separatism, terrorism, extremism, and pro-Pakistanism. In an earlier show, on the same TV channel, Swapan Dasgupta, a rightwing columnist for ‘The Pioneer’, in fact, criticized the host of the show for allegedly affording a moral-equivalence to “Kashmiri separatists” on par with “Jammu nationalists”. (The host was not doing that, but the nervousness was palpable). No one asked Dasgupta as to why Indian nationalism should be the touchstone of morality. But this becomes easier to explain once we realize how Indian nationalism has become akin to a religious faith and India a god worthy of worship.

It is important here to reflect briefly upon the original issue of the Amarnath Yatra to illustrate the point about Indian nationalism as a religious faith in the service of the Hindu empire. Let me not speak of how India’s political elite goaded, duped, threatened, and forced the peoples of different regions of British India and the princely states to merge with India; it was the same process through which Kashmir was annexed. Let me not speak, too, of how most people of the subcontinent that were called “We, the People of India” had virtually no say in the formation of what was called the “Union”. Let me just say that Nehru inherited an empire from the British, and he wanted to consolidate his spoils by making it look like a state. Not for nothing did he stand atop the Red Fort (a symbol of the Mughal empire), on August 16, 1947, with a flag that no longer had Gandhi’s Charkha, but Ashoka’s Chakra (a symbol of the Mauryan empire)—an act to declare continuity with past empires of the subcontinent. Nehru was touted as a secular democrat, but one can find plenty of evidence to show how he gave in to the inexorable march of the Hindu nationalists, many of whom decked his own cabinet. The rebuilding of the Somnath temple, to assuage the feelings of the Hindu nation “for until then they would not think that the real freedom had come” (the words of Vallabhbhai Patel, clearly showing from whom was freedom desired), was just a starter.

Hindu nationalism, which ran amok over, what Ashis Nandy has called “the little cultures of Hinduism”, actually came in handy in the drive to turn the empire into a state. Hindu pilgrimages were boosted to this end; new places to worship were found and given nationalistic appeal. Issues like Ram’s birthplace, and in recent times ‘Hanuman’s bridge to Lanka’ (the Sethusamudaram) were made national issues to rally a fictitious nation around fictitious symbols. In short, a sacred geography for Hindus was outlined where it did not exist. India became synonymous with Bharat Mata, the territorial Hindu deity to be worshipped through deshbhakhti. Kashmir, which is called “the secular crown of India” without any hint of shame or irony, was actually imagined as “the crown of Bharat Mata”, and only so because the crown of the bejeweled image of Bharat Mata, often juxtaposed against the map of India, was where Kashmir was. Kashmir in the same vein also became the atoot ang (an unbreakable body-part) of the anthropomorphic goddess Mother India.

The Amarnath issue stems from here. By bringing in millions of Hindus from across India, facilitating their travel, increasing the number of pilgrimage months, and trying to create permanent bases for them, the state seeks to firmly place Kashmir within the Hindu imagination, as another point on the sacred map of Bharat Mata. By doing so, Kashmir ceases to be the land of Kashmiris, but becomes an abode of Baba Bole Nath. The consolidation of this vision, along with parallel efforts to invent ancient Kashmiri links to India (read the debates on the Institute of Kashmir Studies), in effect seeks to integrate Kashmir with India in its Hindu sense. What else can explain the comical demand of Jammu Hindus that their lost honour could be regained only if Kashmiri land is given to them (perhaps the entire Kashmir should be given to them in lieu of their lost Dogra honour!), and what else can explain the whole of India, the state and the nation, rallying behind Jammu Hindus?

Despite the spin Indian strategists gave the recent protests that they are an issue between Jammuites and Kashmiris (remember the monstrous lie about discrimination), or however much space the Indian media gives protests in Jammu as compared to the mammoth pro-Independence rallies in Kashmir, the fact of the matter remains, it is India, in its true Hindu colours, that is strutting in front of the powerless Kashmiri nation. I, for one, was not a wee bit surprised to see the saffron Hindu flags getting replaced by Indian flags in Hindu protests in Jammu, and chants of “Bam Bam Bole” and “Bharat Mata ki Jai” being raised together. I am not surprised to see Muslim Kashmiris getting killed by the dozen in protest marches or massive military clampdowns on peaceful rallies, or bullet injuries sustained by thousands of Kashmiris—many in India (like Tavleen Singh) wonder why the government isn’t actually pushing Kashmiris, sans Kashmir, into Pakistan. Marches in Jammu, by comparison, look like a party, what with soldiers standing around for photo-ops. No one has been killed in Jammu city in any kind of police action, even though many protestors went on a rampage, and attacked, injured and forced out many Muslims of the region. Despite the easy protests in Jammu, the government looked desperate to talk to the Amarnath Sangharsh Samiti, and scrambled a committee comprising a Kashmiri Pandit and a few Jammu Hindu bureaucrats. The “talks”, which looked like a family affair, ended with government respectfully and expectedly giving Kashmiri land to the Amarnath Shrine Board for exclusive use for three months each year (for the only months the land could be used anyway). The government, shamelessly, put out advertisements suggesting it consulted political parties and the civil society of Kashmir before stealing their land; one wonders when, during its brutal clampdowns and large-scale arrests, did government find time to consult Kashmiris? Or, is Farooq Abdullah again the sole spokesman of Kashmiris?

This brings us back to the NDTV debate and the very intriguing answer that an ex-military person (one of those irrelevant speakers on the debate on nationalism) gave to a question from the audience as to why the army kills so many Kashmiris. His answer: Kashmiris get killed because they happen to be at the scene of action. How can you argue with such a reply? One might say that perhaps Kashmiris get killed because the action happens on them, that their bodies are the scenes of action. His answer, in any case, derailed the debate, an attempt which Mani Aiyar of the Indian National Congress was also making by trying to take the argument away from Kashmir toward the “North-east” (I put Northeast in apostrophes because this description links it cartographically to India, when I think the region is closer to southeast Asia). Aiyar’s insistence on talking about other places is not different from all those noises with which Kashmiris are silenced by drawing contrasts to violence in other places: “so many get killed in Bihar”, “so many rapes happen in Delhi”, what are you Kashmiris whining about? (It is a separate matter that nationalist Indians inadvertently, thus, equate their state with criminals of Bihar and rapists of Delhi).Though issues in Nagaland, Manipur, etc. are similar to Kashmir, in the sense that they too emerge from the rather predatory “idea of India”, but Aiyar was using it to suggest, rather bald-facedly, that there are other people demanding independence, what are you Kashmiris whining about. Let us call it, for the sake of a better phrase, killing (occupying) Kashmiris by comparison.

It is also time we put to rest the phrase “Autonomy”. Kashmiris don’t want autonomy. Even National Conference, its original votary, does not look enthusiastic about the word any longer after its much-fêted proposal was consigned to the dustbin in Delhi without even a discussion. The point is Kashmir had autonomy; that is where India started with Kashmir. When the NC says they want to go back to the pre-1953 status, it automatically means that Kashmiris were there once. For all these years India has slowly gnawed it into shreds. Going back to that political status will mean trusting India over something of which it has proved totally untrustworthy. Who wants to give India another try for another 62 years? Perhaps, the NC?

Aiyar, at his noisy best, kept saying ad nauseam, that the Kashmiri “separatists” should participate in elections to prove their representative character, forgetting in the process an entire ignominious history of rigged elections in Kashmir. Those “mainstream” parties that India sees as representing Kashmiris cannot, by their own admission, bring so many Kashmiris out on the streets as pro-Independence leaders have in Kashmir over the last many years. And this is despite the presence of 700 thousand Indian soldiers to muzzle Kashmiris. If one sixth of the Kashmiri nation is out on the streets on a given day demanding Independence, one can imagine the level of support and endorsement the “separatists” command. How many people joined the Quit India marches at the height of India’s independence struggle? A lakh? Two? India says Kashmiris are confused; that they don’t know what they want. India describes the need for Kashmir’s freedom as an aspiration, a Kashmiri desire. Kashmiris, however, are talking to them as straight as possible. When a million Kashmiri voices rose together in August 2008, they told India something quite uncomplicated: Leave.


32 thoughts on “Occupying Kashmir by Comparison: on one-sided ‘debates’ on Kashmir

  1. Keep it up Mr Junaid. Your scholarly articles inspire thousands of us,when we feel Indian State is too strong for us,while conceding liberation. Long live Kashmir Freedom Struugle!

  2. This is a nice article- a scholarly article-you have done the postmortem of hinduvta expansionism in Kashmir. The congress and BJP are two faces of same coin. But let us be steadfast, and be aware of traitors Like Farooq Abdullah, Who to keep his masters happy can do anything even to change his belief-He has already done it many times. They are pushing us to wall -When we were young we used to hear a proverb in kashmiri KANI WASI POSTHBAT BAN NE DOST A rock can melt but a pundit cannot be your good friend. Now it comes true.

  3. Great Insight into the innermost psyche of the Indian Union. We need more of your write ups Sir.Continue with the good work and let the whole world know that we want India to leave Kashmir forever.Hum Kya Chahete “AZAADI”

  4. It is to the increasing benefit of all mankind that more and more Kashmiris are penning their thoughts on blogs such as this. Because it is becoming increasingly clear, by blog after blog, that behind all their so-called grievances lie a simple case of paranoia, concocted or selective reading of history, and above all, a powerful sense of religion-based hatred.This article in this blog is no different, notwithstanding the cloak of eloquence here that, rather easily, fails to hide the display of this deeper malaise.Any fair minded read of this article will convince the reader that what drives the writer is a deeply rooted antipathy and hatred towards all things “Hindu”. The proximity of Hindus and Hindus is causing this author just too much takleef. And as a way out, the author dons the mantle of being a self-proclaimed expert on Hinduism.For example, only a thoroughly rancid Hindu-hater could come up with this: “That there was nothing called “India” or “Hinduism” before the Brahmanical elite and their British colonial masters drew from each other…” This must be news to all Hindus from all corners of India, however varied their background and language and culture, who all follow, and have followed for over 2500 years, the scriptures and traditions and derivations from the Vedas. Come on, please at least make an attempt at some basic and rudimentary scholarship before you so denigrate and diminish another faith and its faithful. And then the author states — “In its present shape India is actually an empire which is masquerading as a modern state.” This is at once a give away of the deeper problem — which is that to these Kashmiris, the very idea of a big country, not dominated by “their Islamist kind” but instead being corrupted by the presence of non-dhimmi infidels, is a big NO NO. Nothing short of a division of such an India into little pieces would assuage this Kashmiri. And in that, he is no different from the average brain-washed Pakistani, who also dreams of a broken up India, and then a reconquest of the Lal Killa in Dilli. And assume for a second that what this author says is correct — that India is a Hindu dominated empire. So, what is wrong with that? Does the author have the same problem with past and present “Islamic” empires? No, for this author, and for similarly bigoted Kashmiris, the problem with India will go away in a tiny nanosecond were India to instantly turn into an Islamic country. No more talk would then ensue about aggrandizement of territory to make up the current borders, no more talk of usurpation of smaller kingdoms and no more talk of sub-nationalities being subjugated, because it was, after all, in the greater cause of the Ummah.And coming from people professing such a rabid reading of history and religion-driven hate, it is a bit rich to write endless words, lamenting about Indian statehood being mixed up with the Hindu religion.Get over this. This last bit of India being a Hindu state is an obsecene lie, and the more you Hindu-haters repeat it, the more exposed you all get.

  5. Oh, and just wanted to add one more thing. Lately, I have been reading a lot of hate-driven drivel in such blogs, but nothing, and I mean nothing, so showcases this cancer as this statement:”The rebuilding of the Somnath temple, to assuage the feelings of the Hindu nation … was just a starter.”This is hate and bigotry of a colossal magnitude.First, why would there be any objection whatsoever to the Somnath temple being rebuilt? I mean, who would say anything negative about this, unless it is a a bigot who is programmed to hate all idol-worshipping infidels.Second, does anybody not know or recall the special “events” of history that produced a need for the Somnath temple to be rebuilt again? And thirdly, how come the rebuilding the Somnath temple is a matter of assuaging only the “Hindus”. Should it not be a matter of assuaging all INDIANS, who, regardless of faith or religion, felt genuinely victimized by the barbaric invaders coming in from afar in order to destroy something sacred in their own land?And therein lies the difference between an Indian, who derives his nationalism from the roots and warmth of an ancient and tolerant civilization, and this Kashmiri, for whom his communal intolerance is so strong that his own assuasement requires that the Somnath temple be un-rebulit, and that the “Hindu” be unassuaged.

  6. “No, for this author, and for similarly bigoted Kashmiris, the problem with India will go away in a tiny nanosecond were India to instantly turn into an Islamic country. No more talk would then ensue about aggrandizement of territory to make up the current borders, no more talk of usurpation of smaller kingdoms and no more talk of sub-nationalities being subjugated, because it was, after all, in the greater cause of the Ummah”and this same guy called Kashmiris as bigots?I sensed a far deeper hypocrisy of a nation and its citizens.

  7. “And therein lies the difference between an Indian, who derives his nationalism from the roots and warmth of an ancient and tolerant civilization, and this Kashmiri, for whom his communal intolerance is so strong that his own assuasement requires that the Somnath temple be un-rebulit, and that the “Hindu” be unassuaged.3:44 AM”Did you ask the Dalits of how tolerance Hindustan has been to them?

  8. The above said:”Did you ask the Dalits of how tolerance Hindustan has been to them?”Ha! This is such a well-worn and silly debating repartee from the usual haters of India and Hindus.The moment you start a discussion with them, then out comes the standard garbage –“what about Babri masjid?”, “what about Gujarat”, “what about that killer, that Nazi, the one by the name of Modi who by himself put daggers into the chests of hundreds of Muslims”, “what about the Christians in Orissa”, “what about the Sikhs and the assault on the golden temple”, “what about your millions/billions of naked, hungry, homeless, toilet-less” blah blah.The simple fact is that nobody and nothing is ever perfect. That after centuries of alien and foreign misrule, India has made so much progress in such a short time that Indians themselves, and a large many people around the world, marvel at the grand experiment in decent, collective and democratic living, however imperfect and chaotic, that India represents.But hey, don’t let all this stop you from hurling stones at what you consider the Hindu “Bharat Mata”. Selective reading of what is happening today and what has happened in the past is your most core and fundamental trademark. You may choose to focus exclusively on pimples on a face, but don’t be surprised if others tell you that in doing so, you convince nobody of the justness or the strength of your argument.And regarding how Hindustan treats dalits TODAY, please go and pose this question to the Honorable President K. R. Narayanan or to future prime minister Mayawati or to the numerous dalits who are proud to be Indians and proud to be elected to legislatures across this fine country.

  9. Dear Despak,I have not said, if you read carefully, that Somnath Temple be “unbuilt”. To bring up Somnath Temple in my discussion was to point out how Patel was echoing a well-institutionalised discourse of how liberation actually means liberation from a Muslim past.Somnath was not the only thing that happened. Ban on RSS was lifted, only a few months after Gandhi’s assassination. Ayodhya issue was again on a boil etc. Patel’s line of argument was given shape in late 19th century by Bankim in Bengal. Bankim advocated freedom from Muslims, but remained quiet on the real colonizers of the time–the British.You say:”The moment you start a discussion with them, then out comes the standard garbage –“what about Babri masjid?”, “what about Gujarat”, “what about that killer, that Nazi, the one by the name of Modi who by himself put daggers into the chests of hundreds of Muslims”, “what about the Christians in Orissa”, “what about the Sikhs and the assault on the golden temple”, “what about your millions/billions of naked, hungry, homeless, toilet-less” blah blah.”What you call “blah blah” and “standard garbage” is a matter of life and death for millions of people in and under India. Why should Muslims, Christians, or Sikhs want to have to do anything with India if their killings and discrimination are casually referred to as “garbage”. There, of course, are a lot of areas where India has progressed. Most people appreciate that. But it is neither unique in so doing, nor unaffected by developments elsewhere in the world. Progress has come at a huge cost to many people and communities. Some communities have benefitted, no doubt. Even within the depressed castes, for example, some people like Mayawati have benefitted. But Mayawati being CM of UP doesn’t mean Dalits and upper castes have progressed even remotely equally. Or that there are “Three Khans” means all Muslims are having a ball. Read Sachar committee report. Your family’s development has perhaps led to the dislocation and starvation of an entire tribal family, and you may not know.It is actually you who sees the tree and misses the forest.Hindu nationalism is not necessarily same as nationalism of the Hindus. Hindu nationalism is aggressive, excusivist, and demonises the minorities. It weaves a fantastic self-image and worth, describing itself as emerging from “the roots and warmth of an ancient and tolerant civilization.” While it describes its other (Muslims) as “barbaric”, hateful people. This Hindu nationalism accepts only those people who have their “karmabhoomi” and “punyabhoomi” (sacred land) in Bharat, which automatically excludes Muslims, Christians, Jews etc. Kashmiris want to rule themselves, they feel Indians are incapable of ruling Kashmir, as they have amply demonstrated. No moral argument allows India, which I, along with many other Kashmiris who have tasted it, think is a Brahmanical empire, to continue its illegal military occupation of Kashmir. By being here in Kashmir India is robbing Kashmir of many opportunities to develop better, humanely, and with sensitivity to the nature. India claims that they give Kashmir money. Kashmiris tell me that they don’t need no Indian money or military. They need India to get out of their home.Pro-Kashmir I am. Islamist I am not. You cannot prove it logically from my arguments. But you spewing venom against me, in fact, is putting YOUR bigotry on display.

  10. I am sorry but the more you say and the more you expound, the more hollow your thesis is becoming.Very extraordinarily, you say this: “(regarding Somnath) Patel was (implying, wickedly, a) liberation from a Muslim past..”Hmm… do you not see the illogic here? Patel and the Hindus were not seeking liberation from a Muslim past, but rather, they were seeking liberation from the after effects of the some of the most barbaric of marauders and invaders and murderers that the world had seen before one Mr. Osama bin Laden came on the scene.How infinitely paranoid you are, that you equate the rebuilding of the Somnath temple with a nefarious and sinister plan of erasing the Muslim past from India.India must be doing a terrible job of erasing and distancing itself of its Muslims past, if, even in their own capital city, they still have places named such as Safdarjung or Hazrat Nizamuddin.Or oh my God! even that hated Hindu Nazi Narendra Modi still hasn’t rid himself of the stigma of living in a city named Ahmedabad. Surely, the only logical explanation could be that perhaps Ahmed was indeed the name of an ancient Hindu diety.I am afraid that your paranoia has now concretized into a cement barrier around your sensibilities, and in that resulting hermetically sealed cocoon, only fantasies seem to be bounding about.How else could somebody say this — “Bharat, which automatically excludes Muslims, Christians, Jews etc…” when it is this very Indic civilization that has the unique record in history of never ever invading other lands, never causing Somnath Temple like “incidents/accidents” in other lands, and has assimilated within itself people from afar of every faith and tradition since time immemorial? You mention Bharat Mata excluding “Jews”. This is rather hilarious. Please go ask any Jew and he will narrate in reverential terms how the Indian civilization was the one and only one where, throughout history, the diasporic jews were not just unharmed but rather welcomed and assimilated. And finally, what is with you personally having tasted the evil of “Brahmanical empire” while interacting with “India”. I am assuming some of this tasting you tasted in Dilli, where you seem to be currently based.Please pray amplify. Who, presumably some “Brahmans”, are the owners of this empire? where are these Brahmans of this “Brahminical empire” headquartered? Who is the king/queen of this empire? where can I go and apply for a job to be a court jester in the court of the kingdom of this Brahminical empire? Who is the Brahman number 1 in this empire? And Brahman number 20? Thank you in advance for your response.

  11. @ Despak and other pseudo secular-Indians:Even Pope Benedict XVI has praised your secular credentials recently and the Italian Government (Sorry no Pakistan ISI involved here) has commented that India is truly upholding its secular credentials (Can’t help the satire). The Orissa government has even barred the CBI from conducting its investigations. This is the 21st Century and Hindutva is truly infallible.I can’t help but laugh at how the Hindu Indians concoct facts to uplift their so called secular credentials.Nothing can be more significant in pointing out the secular credentials of the Hindu India than giving the example of BJP which was voted to Power by the pseudo-secular Indians after it demolished a mosque and ran over the graves of countless Muslims killed in communal clashes.Shame on your secular democracy when it kills and maims hundreds of thousands of Muslim Kashmiris for voicing their right to self determination.In a country where even liberal actors like Shabana Azmi quotes that Muslims are being given a raw deal by the Indian democracy and very recently where the Muslim leaders have to appeal to the Prime Minister about them being branded as terrorists for all things happening……I wonder why you are blaming the author of this article who I believe has written a scholarly article that deserves credible merit.And yes I am a Christian Anglo-Indian.

  12. Thank you, Secular Crusader, for that vacuous rant. It is always amusing when others, mostly Islamic/Islamist and Christian fundamentalists, try to lecture India about the defects in its secularism. And the only way they can do that is to be highly selective in the use of facts and evidence. Note that nobody is excusing the violence against Christians in Orissa, and I hope that all such violent perps, of whatever faith, are caught, lined up and shot dead at dawn tomorrow. But at the same, I notice that you failed to mention why that Orissa violence began in the first place – namely, that an 84 year old Hindu monk, along with three others, including a lady monk, were brutally done to death using AK-47s by “unknown” assaulters. This is just so similar to that outrageous Islamic narrative of “Gujarat”, when no mention is made of the brutal burning alive of pilgrims in a train bogey in Godhra. Again, no body is excusing the subsequent violence, but more balanced complainers than yourself would take care to at least mention what was the origin of a particular problem/riot/crisis etc.Shabana Azmi is an Indian patriot, and she likely has a valid complaint. But that in no way diminishes the fair and decent way in which the Indian civilization deals with its minorities.Just two examples will illustrate this. Guess in which city is the headquarters of that rabid, hate-filled Hindutva fundamentalist oraganization called RSS. And guess for who these bad Hindu citizens of Nagpur have happily voted again and again as their legislative leader — a leader and current Lok Sabha member by the name of Anees Ahmad. Here is another example. Exactly one year after the horrendous carnage in Gujarat and in Ahmedabad in particular, guess who these same Hindu fanatic citizens of Ahmedabad voted to be their next mayor. Why, it seems that the Hindutva baddies in Ahmedabad had a forgetful day and they ended up voting for one very accomplished Muslim lady — Aneesa Mirza — as their proudly Indian mayor, who defeated a very Hindu sounding opponent named Bharti Patel. No, Mr. Secular Crusader, we, the Indians, don’t need lectures in how defective our secularism is, or how the Hindus are rapaciously maltreating the minorities in this land of an ancient and uniquely tolerant civilization. We, like all others, have many blemishes, but they are few and far in between. What more accurately describes the ethos of what we are, is such little, unheralded examples of good civility that we live out every day, as seen in the above two randomly picked examples. But don’t let all this stop your feverish and demonizing caricatures of India. Your crusader self will need some crusading to do, after all.

  13. @ DespakThe reason India is going from bad to worse is because educated Hindus like you will always find excuses to defend the actions of the Hindutva agents. Be it Godhra or Babri masjid or the burning of Churches in Orissa or the election of Modi as a CM. You Hindus will always blame everything on Muslims and in the recent years on Christians just because poor people are trying to come out of your out-dated abode of casteism and untouchability.The Dalits, the Aadivaasis, the downtrodden of India are trying their best to shun the sword of casteism which has hung above their heads for a millenia. The Hindu fundamentalists fearing that such change will alter their importance as a superior caste have committed sacriledge which is tantamount to an Apocalypse. However despite the tyranny, minorities will have to shut up or face another Orissa or Mumbai or Godhra etc.Your fantasy of an ancient India that was so Godly may hold true for the upper caste Hindus however the Shudras and other low castes have had to suffer for ages now.I am a non violent crusader who wants to crusade against the injustices perpetrated by you and your likes on countless millions of Indians.You have given me examples of Mayors and other politicians as examples of a secular India. I will go on and give you an even better example in the name of President Kalaam and Manmohan Singh…..however does appointing a figurative head from a minority community solve the problems that occur at the grass-roots?…..The answers will not be to your liking my friend. Sikhs still have to get justice for the 1984 Delhi riots, Muslims in Kashmir are still awaiting justice in the form of UN referundum and Christians continue to be burned alongwith their churches.These are not isolated incidents…if you plot these on a graph starting from 1947, you will find that almost every year…I repeat almost every year there has been an incident where minorities have been killed and maimed.Now it is alright to call yourself secular but when the whole world starts to question your secular credentials, then you better start taking lessons otherwise non-violent crusaders turn violent…. just like how the Hindu Monkster was killed in Orissa. You have quoted that “There is a profound reason for every backlash” and then you go on to give the example of a person in Orissa who all the time had been brutal towards the Christians of the state. Now I am not glorifying his killing but trying to make you understand that every action has a reaction and when minorities are pushed to extremes, they have no choice but to retaliate in a similar manner as the perpetrator.And yes you “the secular Hindu” (Not Indian as I too am an Indian) will never take lessons from anybody because you can never do any wrong and if someone does a post mortem of your credentials like the author of this post, then you come out with your venom and trishuls to attack the blasphemers.If this is how you treat secularism, then my friend I a humble Christian am definitely not impressed and never will be.Now, You may come back with all your excuses but in this 21st Century “India” is the only country where even as we speak Churches are being burnt.

  14. Very nice, Crusader. Very nice.This 84 year old Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati was perforated with AK47 bullets while sleeping in his own ashram. And to this dead man, you now address him as a “Monkster”? A monkster??A monkster who was “brutal towards the Christians” and thus was a recipient of an unfortunate, but rather understandable, little bit of some “action/reaction” business.Are you really a “Christian”, when you say such abhorrent things? Do you have any evidence of what were the “actions” of this Swami, and that of the lady sannyasin Maa Bhaktimayi, that resulted in the “reaction” whereby both got showered with cheerful AK47 bullets inside their own ashram?Please spare us your false piety about standing up for “shudras” and “untouchables” and what not. No, you are nothing but a fulminating fundamentalist nutcase.You seem to be having a problem with India, where, according to you, without any provocation, churches are being burnt these days. Well, we have a solution for you. Let the author of this blog and others like him win their freedom, so that they can set up a new Talibanised Islamic emirate of Kashmir, under the leadership of the Great Emir Geelani. And then, you can move in there, where you will be spared from all the horrid nastiness that is India, and where you will have the same wonderful freedom to build churches and propagate your faith as you currently do in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or most other Islamic “nations”.

  15. @ DespakI have worked in Srinagar under the diocese of Amritsar for years and am of the opinion that Kashmiris are far more secular than Hindu Indians. The best person to quote that was none other than Gandhi who said in 1947 "I see Hope for Secularism in Kashmir".This was the time when all of India was burning in communal clashes. When the tribal pathans attacked J&K, Muslims of Kashmir defended their Hindu brothers & sisters and although the Pathans were looking for Hindu Kashmiris, not even a single Kashmiri Muslim gave their whereabouts/adresses. On the contrary Hindutva agents in Jammu massacred hundreds of thousands of Muslims. The other much recent example is the Amarnath Yatra where not even a single Yatri whose number was in hundreds of thousands was hurt despite the hindu fanatics torching the houses of atleast 18 Muslim families in the Jammu region.So, stop the rhetoric, talk about facts….I believe that Kashmiris irrespective of what you say are more tolerant towards other religions than anyone else. They have Sikhs, Hindus,Christians and Buddhists living amongst them even today and never have I heard of communal clashes in Srinagar.There are Christian Churches all over Srinagar city/Ladakh and one place called Rozabal (although I don't belive it) is supposed to be the resting place of Jesus Christ.So stop viewing everyone from your eyes of hatred and Hindu hegemony and clear your rhetorical mind. Read a bit about what this Sadhu in Orissa propagated about Christians.My aim here is to make you understand that this author here has a valid point and try to see how we can as secular Indians correct this fault of ours. Rather than discuss this case on its merits, you have started the same old Hindutva tirade of Trishulism.We Christians don't believe in violence as Jesus never retaliated for all the injuries that were inflicted upon him but self defense when people rape your nuns and burn your churches is a natural human instinct even if your foe is all powerful and mighty like the Indian Hindu establishmnent.I pray to our saviour that He give you Hindus some un-common sense and you stop being so bloodthirsty and barbaric.

  16. Crusader, it is good to read that the “Hindu” is causing you so much angst. And that this is forcing you to paint them all as “You Hindus” and “bloodthirsty” and “barbaric” and “hegemons” and “tiraders of Trishulism”.Which all reinforces what more and more Hindus are beginning to correctly discover and diagnose these days. Which is that Hinduism, which by definition and by its inner most fundamentals, is a non-proselytizing faith. And that when this “leave-us alone” faith is forced to interact with evangelizing and expansionist faiths, faiths where such faith-driven “conquest” of others is divinely ordained and ordered, then an interesting chemistry of interaction occurs.For Islamists like the author of this blog, and for fundamentalist Christians like you, the only good Hindu is one who is abjectly unassertive and docile about his faith and culture, one who is nicely bent over and made to count his toes on demand by others.A Hindu has to deviate just the slightest from this prescribed posture of submission, and out come the epithets and paranoia hurled at him.Just as the author of this blog says and implies this again and again here in this article. Why, the dastardly Hindus put the Ashoka Chakra in their frigging flag, and that is just such a profound evidence of the “Hindu imperium” over this land.Why, the Hindu fundamentalist Patel wanted to rebuid the famous Somnath temple — the one desecrated and destroyed repeatedly by barbaric Islamic invading hordes of history — and that again is an intolerable giving of takleef by the Hindu to this Kashmiri. I notice that despite being challenged here twice, you have not been able to provide one bit of link or evidence of what all wicked and nefarious things that this 84 year old Hindu “monkster” was doing in Orissa. But I am figuring that whatever he was doing was good and worthy, if only because it has so agitated rabid Hindu-haters like you. That “monkster” is at this time flying to heaven, no doubt reasserting in his mind the core beliefs of his Hindu faith, which is that all paths and all faiths lead to the Almighty, and that being a Hindu is not at all the only way to salvation and to heaven.I also bet that the “monkster” is chuckling in his mind as he surveys the scenery from his perch atop the wings of angels, and is thinking about his upcoming chai and biscuit sessions with Jesus Christ in the morning and Shiva and Vishnu in the evening.I am sure he will supplicate to Jesus Christ, asking Him to help expunge the hate for the Hindu from the minds of certain misguided Christ-loving Crusaders in India.

  17. In despak’s long replies to secular crusader I find one phrase particularly interesting: “abjectly unassertive and docile”. This imagined historical impotency or lack of masculinity gives some clues about why a large majority of Indian Hindus, especially the educated ones, behave so aggressively these days. They will listen to no reason, reach out for their trishuls at the slightest pretext, and think they are the wronged party even if go about burning people by the scores.And

  18. always.kashmir once again reverts to the same foolish psychoanalysis of the “Hindu”, when producing arguments based on facts becomes inconvenient.Hindus, educated and otherwise, have no problem with living happily with other faiths. And they prove it today, every single day, as they have for centuries past.Hindus, of all kind, even the horrible “Hindutva-laden extremists”, have no problem at all when their cities are called Ahmednagar, or Ahmedabad, or when places in their cities, big and small, are named Akbar Ali Road, or Jehangir Chowk, or Safdarjang, or Hazrat Nizamuddin. They have no problem when in cities across this “Hindu imperium” called the Bharat Mata, this “false and fictitious nation” built around “fictitious Hindu symbols” (as claimed by the Islamist author of this blog), mosques after neighbourhood mosques rouse the faithful each morning by the bellifluous sounds of the azaan over the loudspeakers.But now look at the other side in this debate. For the secular crusader and his fellow Hindu-Haters, all this is to be discounted, or even worse, is still evidence of Indian secularism that is badly defective.I mean, look at what the Kashmiri author of this blog writes in his own words. He says that if he hears the words “baba bhole nath”, then he feels that his Kashmir has come to an end (“Kashmir ceases to be the land of Kashmiris”).For this Kashmiri, just the sight of the Ashoka Chakra in the Indian flag, or the historical reference that Kashmir could have been named after Kashyap muni, or the sight of saffron flags on his television screen — all these are absolutely blasphemous instances of an outrage being perpetrated on him and his fellow Kashmiris. It is their Islamic identity being assaulted and subverted under the Hindu hegemony of the Bharat Mata, they say. And the funniest (or the worst) is when this Kashmiri says that because the Indians won’t love the actions of his heroes — the barbaric and murderous Gazni and the Gaznavi types — that this is evidence that the Hindu is out to erase all record of Islamic presence in this country. Very funny.And when pointed such facts, the “Secular” crusader says that this Kashmir has way more defect-free secularism than do I and my fellow “barbaric” and “blood-thirsty” Hindus.Face it — facts are inconvenient to the Hindu-Haters here. Their only recourse is to eloquence-cloaked polemics and to utterly laughable psychobabble and psychoanalysis of what makes the “Hindu” be such a horrid “Hindu”.

  19. Despak ji,Let me make two things clear: One, I did not say that Nehru’s putting up the Ashoka’s Chakra to replace Gandhi’s Charkha in Indian flag amounts directly to the Hinduisation of the flag. I gave this example to point out Nehru’s anxious search into “India’s past” to find a continuity for the Nation he discovered. His search led him to the symbol of the Mauryan Empire and the Mughal Empire, and he saw post-1947 India as natural heir to these grand empires. Ashoka’s Chakra was a Buddhist symbol and not a Brahmanical one (it is a different matter that Hindus are trying to coopt Buddhism along with Jainism and Sikhism), and for Nehru it did not matter so much if symbols were Brahmanical, Mughal, or Mauryan, as long as it helped his own imperial view to consolidate. The point in bringing this is to reveal the imperial urges in the nationalist conceptions of India. Nehru’s view had a Hindu dimension, even if publicly he denied it. His vision is clearly elaborated in his book “Discovery of India” which has a teleological notion of a linearly progressing nation, and whose structure is based on the colonial/Brahmin idea of “Indian” history–Hindu India, Muslim India, and finally the British India. For Nehru those Muslims are fine who “Indianised”–meaning Hinduised, as the book shows elsewhere. And mind it, I am not even speaking of rabid Hindu chuavinists like Bankim, Savarkar, or Patel.Two, speaking about the Somnath Temple becomes important for it sets in motion a process which provides a symbolic backdrop for the Hindu nation to pan out. 1947 was independence from the British, but reconstruction of Somnath temple was seen by Patel, the deputy PM of India and others like KM Munshi as important, for until it was built, they thought, Indians would not feel liberated in reality. In 1992 after Babri Mosque was destroyed, I heard the slogan, “Babri to bas jhanki hai, Mathura, Kashi baki hai” (Babri was just a curtain raiser, Mathura and Kashi are stil left). Sadhvi Rithambra exhorted crowds to go and destroy ten thousand mosques in India. All this was accompanied by massive blood letting of the Indian minorities. I never condone what Ghaznavi did, but tell me is he an exception? [Muslim empires destroyed indegenous cultures around the world, as did the Christian Roman empire before them, or the Western empires in recent memory. Hindu empire is doing exactly that now. Its contemporaneity makes me more wary of it than earlier empires, which have dissipated.] Ashoka ravaged Kalinga. The many kingdoms, which existed in history and in the space of the present India, fought with each other most of the time. Richard Eaton, a historian, describes how Hindu potentates upon conquering rival kingdoms would destroy the opponents’ temple to raise their own one to claim actual victory. Leave that aside, what you describe as “foreigners” or “invaders” are supposed to be only Muslims and Christians. What about the pre-Islamic Kushans, who had an empire in the North India in 4th century AD, but were originally from Central Asia, and were based in Baghram near Kabul. For Nehru, they were Indians because they adopted Brahmanical system. What about the beef-eating Aryan “hordes” then who came from “outside” and destroyed the Indus valley civilisation, and whose social system and ideas, with the aid of the British indologists, you now describe as Hinduism. If you describe something as foreign, you already have a border in mind. Where would you draw this imaginary border of yours through? Indian state allowed the Hindu nationalist hatred to grow. The day after Graham Steins and his two young sons were burnt alive in a jeep by the Hindu Bajrangi Dara Singh, Hindu chauvinists proclaimed Dara to be their hero. After Gujarat riots in which more than 3000 Muslims were killed Gujarat’s govt arrested no one, while immediately after the Godhra carnage (which independent judicial investigations agreed was a result of an accident) 257 people were arrested (under POTA!) of which 256 were Muslims and one was a Sikh. Most of the 1993 Bombay blasts accussed have been prosecuted (and rightly), but the Shiv Sainiks and police officials who murdered thousands of Muslims in the riots preceding the blasts have gone unpunished. Infact, many of them are corporators now. Although, Indira Gandhi’s Sikh assassins have been hanged and forgotten, but the killers of the 3000 Sikhs of Delhi in 1984 are contesting elections from the same Delhi and winning. And there is much more: Nellie, Meerut Maliana, Jamshedpur etc. There is no hope among minorities that they can get justice in India, with the present Hindu nationalist attitude among the majority community.What India is doing in Kashmir will come back and haunt it. History tells us that empires have their field-day, and then they are forced to roll back. History shows us again and again.

  20. One does not need to be a Freud to do a psychoanalysis of your likes despak. Every time you spew your froth on this blog proves my point. And when mosque after mosque rouses the faithful with azaan it is despite you, and not becuase of. It happens because Indian Muslims are too numerous for your comfort and designs. You may cow them down but cannot wish them away.

  21. And one more thing, please do not have such illusions of granduer. There is no such category as ‘Hindu-Haters’ (Both ‘H’s capital to adjust your ego on this otherwise small blogsapce.).


  23. its a pity that this discussion turned into such an abusive and petty debate.our kashmiri comrade is obviously linking his nationalism to his faith. you fear a few hindus coming over to waste their time worshiping their god? if all the hindutva tirade you talk about is true, then certainly your paranoia of a few thousand hindu pilgrims in ‘Muslim Kashmir’ is Islamist insecurity. this, in turn, shows the fundamentalist islamic notion kashmiriyat is dependent on. You dont have to be ashamed of it.. if your an islamist then say so.. dont find faults in other religions and nationalisms. atleast, the kashmiri pandits would finally know that there is no home waiting for them.. coz majoritarinism says they cant come back. similar to the hindutva flavour of indian nationalism you talked about, innit? please do us a favour when you guys leave the union… dont cry for jammu and ladakh coz unfortunatly they arent muslim majority and arent up for grabs.also, altkashmir… why does your blog turn a blind eye to the cruelties of your own.. the xenophobia in your society.. the terrible status for women.. the scary diktats of right wing islamic organisations??? ironic.. or shall i say despicable.. its much easier to criticise “others” while overlooking the faults within our “own”. despak ji… why defend a faith that has been so politicised that it discriminates amongst its ‘own’. why defend our ‘secular’ regime when it turned a blind eye to the numerous genocides it has helped execute. you know, what our problem is.. its our nationalism.. we want to believe india is the best despite all its drawbacks.. lets start accepting facts, lets be more critical.. let us not let monsters like modi and avani and poker faced liars like three quarters of the congress design our fates..the state is like a cancer.. it keeps sucking energy out of you.. and usually a few hundreds benefit from it… we celebrate only the celebrity minority citizens… the common man from a minority group is as dispensable as a bihari labourer in kashmir.if kashmir wants to leave.. let it leave! a part of muslim valley cannot and should not put a dent in our “secular” state.. tht is, if we are truly “secular”.. which i doubt anyways. the kashmiris have their prejudice as do we.though i should ask altkashmir, if azadi could also mean suffering the same fate as “azad kashmir”. good luck with that coz on the other side of the border they dont even have as many rights as we do… their army takes even worse to protests than ours. and you would finally lose this hindu argument.good luck to all of you.. but please in the name of the god you believe in please be a bit more pragmatic and nicer to each other. it cant hurt!long live trotsky!PS: mr. author, notice how i use “we” and “us” and “our”? Yes, I’m an indian.. an atheist indian who doesnt buy into nationalism coz its fatal and distracts attention from the more important issues in life. i hope you distinguish the hatred directed at me. i’m not your regular hindu or muslim-baiter or hindutva driven nut! i hope you treat us different! oh and i’m not a communist either.

  24. Dear Anonymous, I have no doubt that many of those who prefer to call themselves Indians are not communal extremists. That they wouldn’t go to the extent of advocating any “final solution”. They would even speak of the need to fight communal fascism. You perhaps are one of them. But that is not all you come of sounding like in your response. Either you are luxuriously ignorant and have fallen into same old liberalist (which is not even liberal, infact) Indian discourse. Or you are deliberately trying to pretend ignorance. Hindus coming to Kashmir has not been an issue for the last one and a half century. It is not Kashmiris who are scared, it is your hawkish Indian establishment that wants to see Amarnath pilgrimage as a sign of “return of normalcy in Kashmir”. For Kashmiris how can Kashmir be normal with more than half a million aggressive Indian nationalist military around? When Pahalgam closes down for two months for Kashmiri locals to facilitate yatra for Hindu pilgrims, how can things be normal? If land grab by India continues at the rate at which it is happening in Kashmir, how can Kashmiris not be scared? Kashmiris’ everyday life is saturated with violence perpetrated by Indian forces. Kashmiri women are humiliated on streets by roving gangs of your brave Indian soldiers. Many women have been raped and molested. During recent violent suppression of Kashmiri protests CRPF did not even spare grandmothers. In many localities in Srinagar, Anantnag, Baramulla, and Sopore, women were dragged and beaten up. And you speak of terrible “status” of women in our “Islamic” society! Anything would be better. Even a situation like Azad Kashmir would feel like paradise. You speak of not reducing these discussions into abusive, petty debates, yet you try hard to be subtly abusive. You seem to really know me, and my friendship with Trotsky!

  25. Dear Mr. Junaid, Thank you for this post. You are doing excellent work on this blog explaining the grieviences Kashmiris have with India and advocating for Kashmiri independence. I am a Pakistani-American of Kashmiri-Punjabi origin. My great-grandmother is from Shopian and my great-grandfather lived and died in Srinagar. I think it is totally ridiculus that we Kashmiris cannot visit our ancestral homes because we divided into "Indians" and "Pakistanis". I firmly believe both India and Pakistan do not care at all about Kashmir, as much as they claim to do so. I also believe that the only way to achieve peace in South Asia is for the Kashmir dispute to be solved in line with the aspirations of the Kashmiri people–all of us, those in AJK and those in Indian-Held Kashmir. Again, congratulations on the blog. You may want to join the discussion over at http://www.thesouthasianidea.com where there is a post called "Perspectives on Kashmir". Regards, Kabir Altaf

  26. Hi Kabir,Thank you for your comment. I read some of the discussions that have been happening on the SouthasianIdea, especially the one on Kashmir. I believe that for us who live at the margins of territorial/national behemoth that India has become, have a perspective that will always differ from those who occupy its metropole. I know some Indian people get angry when I say how India is transforming, because of an earlier template, into a Hindu imperium…These people, understandably, don't encounter the India that we do. One always discovers the empire from without, and not from within. You may want to read Prof. Richard Shapiro's essay at http://www.sacw.net.In solidarity.

  27. Interesting debate. Altkashmir: I agree with your view point that ultimately it is the Kashmiris who decide whether Kashmiris want to be with India or Pakistan or independent.I also share your concern about increasing saffronization of Indian state in recent years. However, I am curious to know – and BTW it has no bearing on your arguments about independent Kashmir – how you view de facto and de jure Islamization of state in Muslim majority countries. AFAIK, barring a few notable exceptions, muslim majority countries are always Islamic state. How do you explain that while Muslims decry (and rightly so) increasing interference of religion in state affairs in non Muslim countries, yet they do not suffer similar pangs of conscience when muslim majority countries Islamize their states de facto and de jure?-Abhilash Shastry

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