Messed up Future: Is there a hope for Kashmiris?

It is no big deal that we all (Kashmiris) have been thinking about our motherland in last few decades. Reviewing the past history, as the adage goes, helps us not to repeat historical mistakes. If you scan the writings in this context, we find these have been committed narratives. These in my honest assertion, smack of propaganda only. As a Kashmiri, I too have chosen a convenient path of thinking about only my community -in- distress in my thoughts and writings.

In order to be objective and also for the goal of finding a solution, we have to think and write about all the stake holders. With this in mind, I have attempted to write about Kashmiri Muslims in the limited capacity of having lived in & out of Kashmir in my lifetime, which at the moment is in its sunset years.

I, therefore, address it to my Kashmiri brothers and sisters

What a life you have chosen for yourself!

Historically you made choices in the past which made sense to the Muslim majority in Kashmir. Sher-I-Kashmir led two high impact movements for your benefit alone.

  1. Education for Muslims & 2) Land Reforms.

You, being the majority, have not made much out of the education that you received and also the land which was now in your hands.

With Muslims getting educated, made them eligible for jobs which were earlier handed out to more Pandits, perhaps in out of proportion to their population because of their high education levels. So Pandits had to seek jobs outside J&K.

Pandits in big numbers, by default, were landed Zamindar's & had to return huge tracts of land they owned on account of land reforms without compensation.

So, you can see. what impact, both these initiatives by S M Abdullah had on minorities -greatly negative. So, the oft repeated issue of minorities coming in your way, had long been settled.

Why then you chose a path where you found us obstructing your march forward to achieve your goals of progress and prosperity through misplaced notion of “Aazadi.”

Why didn’t you stop the killers from amongst you, when you could? Obligation to the solidarity with your co–religionists perhaps outweighed your obligation of natural duty to protect your Kashmiri fellow citizens.

The Jagmohan theory which has been perpetrated by some of your ideologues as a response & in defense perhaps of your guilt-ridden behavior, reminds me of a quote by S.J. Watson, (Before I Go to Sleep)…… “We’re constantly changing facts, rewriting history to make things easier, to make them fit in with our preferred version of events. We do it automatically. We invent memories. Without thinking, if we tell ourselves something happened often enough, we start to believe it, and then we can actually remember it.” 

So, existence of KP’s in your midst was never a factor in your struggle. In fact, we have been great facilitators in your moves to educate your community. What then have you achieved as a Majority in last sixty years is a question begging answers.

In a Travelogue which emerged after a visit to Valley in 2014, I made some important and sad observations. A redacted version is reproduced here to give a glimpse of the changes I observed there.

Drug Addiction:
I was immensely disturbed by the anti-drug ads popping out on the boulevard. I asked the driver of our vehicle -a local, who indicated it as a major fall out of the crisis and turmoil of the last few decades. It further pained me when I saw a de-addiction center right in the hostel of the Anantnag Degree College compound. In conflict areas throughout the world like Sri Lanka, Kashmir and the Northeast India, the addiction to medicinal opioids has become a major problem.
The highest number of addicts belongs to the category of youth that were born after 1990s and who have joined the so-called Jihad.

Sale of Beef from shops openly:

I saw vending of Beef (did not confirm it from locals on account of politeness but the size did indicate that it was not mutton) openly in Srinagar for the first time in my life. It was well known that in spite of the Law against it, the availability was never a problem for locals who consumed it. Not selling openly perhaps was on account of the shared sentiments of a sensitive community of Hindus & Sufi Islamists then.

Army Presence-AFSPA
From a distance and from the high media exposure about situation in Kashmir, one would favor the presence of Army. As a tourist, one may pass it off as a security measure and no more. I evaluated it from the resident’s point of view. I can surely say that the presence is an ugly sight and not pleasing in the mind at all, no matter the cause-and-effect theories we put forward. You can't have a peace of mind with gun trotting army personnel everywhere you turn your head to.
Generational Shift
If we were to look for recognition of our group of Kashmiri Pandits on the streets and Gardens of Kashmir, none was found. One of the hawkers visiting us on our House Boat did not know where Tulamula or Kheerbhavani is. Information disseminated about our exodus is also erroneous. Everyone it seems is fed with the theory that it was engineered and not forced by militants. By using this theory, they also perhaps get absolved of explaining the ugly truth - why they ignored history of shared culture- Kashmiriyat as well as basic tenets of Islam about saving the weak. New generation has very little knowledge of the big issue of Kashmiri Pandits about whose plight they know little if at all.


I found low end jobs in tourist industry taken up by people from outside the state- Muslims and non-Muslims both. The hoteliers told me that locals are not willing to work, as they are after govt. jobs as always. The Menus also list only Tourist Menus and  can you believe – all vegetarian. We had to depend on the grand old Ahdoo’s for an authentic Kashmiri cuisine-Veg. as well Non-Veg.

I had a great reunion with my friend - school mate & later as a colleague in the department where I worked for all of 9 years in Kashmir. We had tearful remanences of the past. The affection from people who came in contact with us during our stay was intact. It moved us when we got a call from one of our local drivers engaged for our trip, when we returned to Delhi. He was asking us if we had reached safely - the old-world charm of Kashmiriyat. Every time we entered or departed from Hotels, we stayed in we could feel a genuine warmth.

The majority it seems has squandered the gains from what was initiated by Sher-i -Kashmir (Education & Land to tiller).

In the name of progress under your own rulers (as against the Dogra Kingship) you got divided into two main sections of Kashmiri society over the years – the Elites and the Commoners. Elites – Bureaucrats, Engineers, Govt. Administrators, Doctors & of course the Politician. The rest was all commoners. The only progress one sees in Kashmir is that these Elites have consistently been getting richer by means fair and foul and increasing their numbers.

Down the years, primarily after 1947, you had rulers of your community in charge of affairs of the government. Admittedly they worked hard to amass wealth and it did not percolate down to most of you. You got crumbs, e.g., They made a building, roads, power houses – for material the elite business man gained. trickle effect for you, was perhaps in the form of labour wages only. That is the only extent of benefits coming to masses.

While poverty in J&K is far less than other parts of the country, the disparity is very acute between haves and have nots. (I will in near future try working on this issue to prove this theory by numbers and other facts…Myths of J&K Economy…..keep watching this space) You got misled by hope generated by these scheming elites .You are victims of false hope and hidden agendas of your so called leaders.

There is this African proverb – “No matter how beautiful and well-crafted a coffin might look; it will not make anyone wish for death.” You nevertheless seem to have made your wish.

Let us examine & revisit the choices you made for yourselves and your progenies. ….

  • You have made wrong choice of leaders...
    • Barring Sheikh Abdullah, can you name a sincere leader who worked for your benefit. …. [BBC Journalist, Sarwar Kashani: Kashmiris have not produced a single leader of international stature…. Nov 20, 2007]
  • Your politicians (not leaders) found a convenient tool in the complicated partition and accession issues
    • This tool helped them to whip passions for the masses. It was also used by them to fool the feeding hand of India and make personal gains only.
  • Many of you became accomplices to corruption at government levels.
    • Your sense of Community welfare never crossed your mind when you got busy amassing wealth from whatever sources.
  • You got trapped into schemes of Islamic state of Pakistan
    • You engaged yourself to pursue their agenda when they had no love for you or your welfare.
    • You can now see the tragedy of getting involved in the competing Nationalism of India and Pakistan.
  • You got enamored by global Islamization
    • You started thinking in line with Intefada to achieve Aazadi.
    • You did not realize that Sufi Islam is what you followed from inception of converting to Islam.
  • You never cared on your own to look at India as your own country.
    • You fell in the trap of separatists whose agenda was never going to be your advancement in life…...
  • You took to guns and it resulted in bringing Indian army to counter you.
    • What did you expect from a Nation State when you declare war on the state?
  • Is your cause of Aazadi perpetrated by your current leaders genuine? 
    • Aazadi from what?
    • Aren’t Poverty alleviation and better future for your progeny in an Independent Nation called India better alternatives to the delusional vision of Aazadi?
    • We know for sure that your “cause” was based on wrong and illogical reasons.
    • A blind hope given by selfish politicians with no clarity of a mission.
    • If you are not concerned about your progeny, what cause are you following. Your so-called leaders have secured the future of their progeny. You do not see them joining your cause.

You know India is not going to let Kashmir secede now or in future at any cost. It is time to review your choices. Sufi Islam is there in your genes. Recall it and it will be the first step in the right direction. Time to get real and remove these cobwebs of ignorance.

For guiding you all, you have the wrong people in place.

  • Out of work politicians have their own agenda. Do not get carried away by their promise of support at this moment
  • Politicians in power have to toe India’s line & that does not suit your warped cause.
  • Islamists and separatists have made a business out of your cause, if there is one. Extremists from outside or inside are no warriors. They are drugged zombies chasing hoors as indoctrinated by your so-called well-wishers across the border.

     I would also recommend that you revisit Arvind Gigoo’s letter, who has perhaps done a much better job of showing you the reality of the plight you are in at the moment. I reproduce a few lines from this letter:

…..You are a gullible lot. You believe in false promises. Nobody trusts you. Your tragedy is the result of the politicking of your leaders and of those you consider your well-wishers……

…. In the last twenty years you lost hundreds of thousands of people- young boys, men, women and children. You lost your humanism and your cultural ethos. You lost Pandits. You are living in lies. You are a victim of depression, repentance, sorrow and defeat…….

……Pakistanis have a very poor opinion of you. Indians don’t trust you at all. Your leaders don’t care for you……

……. Answer your own questions. Question your leaders, politicians and think tank. Everything is in your hands. Shifting loyalties and short-term plans will lead you nowhere. For sixty-three years your leaders did nothing for you. Pursue only one goal. Politics of doubletalk is bound to fail. And remember what Lancelot Hogben has said: ‘No society is safe in the hands of its clever people.’…….

Is it not time to make peace with yourself and create a future for yourself and your progeny?

All I can say in the end is by way of the quote by Thomas Paine who said, “We have it in our power to begin the world all over again.” 

In order to do that you have to remember that” You cannot cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore....”

Ashok Dullu


Post Script:

5th Aug. 2019 is not just another date. On this day the stance of Government of India changed. They have seemingly understood the machinations of the so called “main stream politicos” of J&K. They have chosen a “tough love “line it seems to end the menace of all evil forces which are against the integration of J&K completely and honestly with nation proper – India.

The questions above remain but it does not seem to offer too many choices. Either you fall in line or face the music from a powerful nation. No amount of sympathy will pour in once curbs are lifted. This time GOI is firm in its resolve to offer straight and sincere choices for Kashmiris. Ladakh is out. Jammu may follow if locals in Kashmir do not see the light. We as Kashmiris have to resolve to join Indian mainstream and care for our future. We have wasted 33years from 1986 to date with no clear goal in mind except borrowed ideology of Aazadi.

Ashok Dullu

Oct. 2019