Monday, August 25, 2008


What is the basis of any movement ? A shared sense of identity, the foundation of which could be cultural, regional, linguistic or traditional commonality. And if one talks of Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan occupied Kashmir in that context, or the ' Kashmir Movement' as the separatists term it, one finds a lot of disinformation ,or rather, lack of information all around. The separatists in Kashmir ( and Kashmir means only Kashmir, it doesn't include the regions of Jammu and Ladakh , which constitute a large part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir) talk of Kashmiriyat and claim it to be the basis of their movement of azadi or freedom for Kashmir.

Before moving further, it is important to understand the meaning of Kashmiriyat. Kashmiriyat or Kashmiriness means the ethno – national and social consciousness and cultural values of the Kashmiri people. And who are the Kashmiri people? Contrary to what the separatists and the self-proclaimed saviours of Kashmiri people claim, it is a legacy shared only by the Hindus and Muslims of the Kashmir valley. The fact is that the entire regions of Jammu, Ladakh and Pakistan occupied Kashmir do not share any cultural similarity with the valley, and, therefore, by logic, do not conform to the ideals of Kashmiriyat.The truth is that Jammu and Kashmir is an amalgamation of diverse linguistic and cultural traditions, and Kashmiriyat is only a small section of its vast cultural heritage.

Very often, more so in recent times, one has heard a Mehbooba Mufti or some separatist leader call out threateningly for a march to Muzaffarabad , in other words, to the part of Kashmir across the border. The fact is that there is no cultural, ethnic or linguistic similarity between Kashmir on this side and on the other side. The majority of the predominantly Muslim population in Pakistan occupied Kashmir is culturally and ethnically related to the people of northern Punjab and Jammu, which include such tribes as the Abbasis, the Maliks, the Ansaris, the Mughals, the Gujjars, the Jats, the Rajputs,the Qureshis and the Pashtuns, among others. Most of these tribes found in POK incidentally also happen to be a regional characteristic of Jammu region and not Kashmir as is wrongly assumed .The official language of Pakistan occupied Kashmir is Urdu but it is spoken only by a minority. The dominant language spoken there is Pahari, which is not even remotely connected to Kashmiri spoken in the Kashmir valley in India. Pahari is actually very close in character to Dogri , Pahari and Gojri languages spoken in different parts of Jammu region.

The fact is that the only similarity between the Kashmirs on the two sides of the border is that of religion. Like its counterpart across the border, Kashmir on this side also happens to be predominantly Muslim. So then does it all boil down to that one factor of religion? And therefore, is the notion of Kashmiriyat that is so commonly and liberally used by those wanting freedom for Kashmir, a mere sugarcoating of what essentially happens to be a very communal movement? And if it isn't communal, then why aren't the nearly five lakh displaced Kashmiri Pandits a part of this perceived vision? For ironically , it is only they who happen to be culturally, ethnically and linguistically aligned to the ethos of Kashmiriyat.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

we need people like u in journalism...who knows facts...not like arundhiti roy, her recent article on outlook shows that she is only good for fiction...plz somebody tell her that jammu & kashmir is not a fiction...