It is a given that writing involves delving into the forbidden. Common discussion in bazaars and between friends at home do little more than scratch the surface of the most contentious issues of our times. Irrespective of our religious persuasion, we rarely introspect and dig deeper into our souls to find formulae that can liberate us from using our religious identity as the basis for determining the state of human rights in our region.
Author is a writer, broadcaster and activist working for civil society development in Pakistani administered Kashmir and can be mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was first published in Rising Kashmir (a Srinagar-based English daily) on the 23rd of March 2011.
The material written in this article took some inspiration from Arvind Sharma - who is Birks Professor in Comparative Religion at McGill University in Montreal Canada.
On the very day that this article was published, the editor was phoned and the following comments were passed...
I am pleased to convey that Kashmir's top most intellectual and educationist Dr Agha Ashraf Ali has complimented you for today's article. He called me up and said "I am thrilled to see such a brilliant piece which has set an entirely new discourse on the subject". I was myself overwhelmed to hear that and thought I should share it with you.
Agha Sb is father of Late Agha Shahid Ali (Perhaps the most gifted poet of Kashmir in recent times)
I then received an email from one of the most eminent scholars of Jammu, namely the late Balraj Puri.
I read your articles with great interest. But may I comment on your latest article in which you suggest that Hindus of the State should have joined Sheikh Abdullah when he converted Muslim Conference into National Conference.
The fact is that the Sheikh was hero of Kashmiri nationalism, including Hindus. But he had absolutely no appeal with Hindus and Muslims of Jammu. Two Jammu leaders S. Budh Singh and Chaudhary Ghulam Abbas had, in fact, took the initiative to approach the Sheikh with a proposal to convert the party into the National Conference and under a Gentleman’s Agreement it was decided that the presidentship of the party would rotate every year. But in practice it was not honoured. No secular national party encouraged Jammu leaders. They therefore reverted to religious parties.
The divide in the state was thus more on regional than religious lines.
Mr. Tanveer Ahmad
Institute of Jammu and Kashmir affairs