Kashmiri – Nationalism: Reality or Myth?

By M. J. Aslam

Nationalism is an inclusive concept that includes all communities & cultures of a society in it. If only one community & culture believes & follows it, it ceases to be nationalism. Yes, then, you may call it “religious nationalism” which is different from generally known & understood “secular nationalism”. The secular nationalism becomes a myth if majority community imposes its ideas, values & practices on minority group/s. If State majoritarian power is used in such campaign of majoritarian-nationalism to enforce it on minority group/s, it takes the shape of fascism. This may be likened to the concept of Indian nationalism as open & unambiguously advocated & propounded by RSS ideologues. Otherwise even, in nationalism majority group/culture always dominates. The concept of nationalism has come with establishment of democracy in the world & democracy brought with it nation State concept. It is as recent WW 1st & WW 2nd . It is directly linked to the geo-political, socio-economic developments of those times.

In Kashmir, Sheikh Abdullah too cherished a dream of “Kashmiri-nationalism”, although while toeing Indian Congress-line simultaneously, his claim was only an empty jargon to woo the gullible illiterate, impoverished & ignorant masses away from the socio- political policies of the Muslim League. He “”argued on a number of occasions that just as Kashmiri-Islam was different from the Islam of m a Jinnah’s Pakistan, so Kashmiri Hinduism was more Kashmiri than Hindu . In other words, he meant, the Hindu minority in the State had more in common with the Muslim majority than it had with the Hindus elsewhere in the Indian subcontinent. This outlook ………did not take into account the realities of the non- Muslims’ opinion in Kashmir, Jammu & Ladakh””. (Kashmir: a disputed legacy, Alaister lamb, page 187). One may say it with certainty that he had his argument apparently on a flawed premise as proven by the socio-political developments of Kashmir from 1947 till date.

To be frank enough, for non-Muslims of J & K including Kashmiri-Battas/Pandits, nationalism means “Indian-nationalism” which prima facie is Hindu/Brahman nationalism. Under the present political landscape of India, no sane person can deny that for non-Muslims of J & K & India nationalism means Hindu/Brahman nationalism & not “geographically connoted” India nationalism. What is then Kashmiri nationalism? It is nothing but “religious nationalism” since it has no takers among non-Muslims of the State & in Indian system, there is only one nationalism & that is India [Hindu, claimed by the ruling classes of India] . Does it mean then that the misunderstandings & misconceptions that Kashmiri-Muslims had some seven decades ago about so called Kashmiri-nationalism exist till now among them. The non-Muslims are clear about their political thought that strength lies in unity. Had it not been so, why should Kashmiri-Battas sink their ethnic identity in the vast ocean of Hindu-Nationalism from east to west, south to north of India. Time has definitely proven Sheikh Abdullah wrong . Does it not convey a positive message to those Kashmiri Muslims who still believe in or cherish the idea of some kind of “secular-nationalism”?

Kashmiri-Nationalism is inseparably co-mingled with religion of Islam since decades of foreign subjugation & oppression just as soul in body. It can be easily found in the facts of that all “”Kashmiri Nationalists”” propagate & preach their political ideology from pulpits of mosques & shrines . I am yet to know of any one of them (Kashmiri Nationalists) doing it from temples, gurdwaras, churches, synagogues & monasteries. Their doors for “Kashmiri nationalism” are totally shut. Its religious fervor is plainly seen in the kind of Islamic sloganeering in rallies & processions of the Kashmiris since decades. One may or not agreed.

George Washington has rightly said that those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat its mistakes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *