History: No forgetting, no forgiving

dal lake

History does not forget & forgive those who make it. Making of history does not mean always doing right. It equally means doing wrong. Those who did wrong are never forgiven by those who suffer by their wrong. Similarly, those who did right are never forgotten by those who benefit from their right. Wrong or right may be a decision or an action taken at a given moment of time in the past by those who had opportunity, authority, power or means to control, shape & direct the course of events in a particular direction.

We have in history very cruel dictators, tyrants & fascists, who have made history by their cruel & barbaric rule that caused suffering to millions world-over. The history books are fraught with their savagery. But, as I say, they have made a history, a bad history indeed. Their names exist in the annals of history of mankind. There will be more additions to the list of those barbarian rulers in future as well. In our times history for posterity is made by many such savages under different names of governance. Many democracies are also doing it by inflicting misery & pain on their own people.

We have in history leaders who too have created history by their wrong actions or decisions at a particular period of time, mostly for their low understanding & erroneous assessment of the events before them. It may be due to lack of knowledge of history, or personal greed, or self-aggrandizement or bad advisers around, of theirs, as well.

We have in history people like rulers, leaders, scientists, technologists, engineers, architects, academics, thinkers, theologians, philanthropists, philosophers & many more who have made history, a good history, by their right decisions & actions at right moments of time. Those right decisions & actions of theirs are before you in many shapes of wonders of constructions of roads, buildings, hospitals, bridges, flyovers, airports, sea-ports, educational institutions, scientific & technological achievements, unbelievable inventions, beneficial discoveries of knowledge, & what not. They are all marvels of mankind for which they are respectfully remembered.

History, therefore, manifestly draws a demarcation between good & bad History-Makers. But, there are some characters in history who despite having done “good things”, too, are not recorded respectfully in the history texts nor remembered goodly. For example, I will mention of Yazid Bin Mawiya who was son of a companion of the Prophet (s a w). But we know the greatest tragedy of Karbala took place in 60 AH when he was ruler of Islamic world. Though he was not personally present in the battlefield, he was present at Damascus at the time of most painful tragedy in Islam, yet, the family    of the Prophet ( s w a) were brutally dealt with by his soldiers, so naturally blame  goes to him till date. Even among Sunni Schools of thought, Muslims do not remember him by usual Islamic appellation of Rahmatullah ; despite the fact that he had fought & won several battles of Islam especially an  important one against Roman empire. Why? Because whatever his “good deeds” may be there, they are overshadowed by the one Great Tragedy of Karbala that was responsible for splitting Islam into two sects of Shia & Sunni.

Secondly, we have Hajaj bin Yousuf (661-714) who was Governor of Iraq in Umayad Caliphate. He was the man who for first time inducted gold & silver coins with Allah-name inscribed on them & punished people for counterfeiting coins which established uniform coinage in the Muslim Empire & stabilized its economic system. After two decades of civil war among Muslims, he established peace & brotherhood among warring factions of Muslims. He awarded land to landless Muslims & new converts to Islam. He spent hugely on irrigating canals for agriculture. Before his time, the Holy Quran did not have vowel diacritics ( peesh, zabar, nuqta, etc ). He did this great job otherwise the Holy Quran would have been beyond the reach of understanding of non-Arabs. But, despite all these good things he performed, he is recorded in history of Islam as most cruel barbarian whose hands were soaked with the blood of thousands of Tabaeen, Ulema e Deen & some Tabaeen hailed from four Companions of the Holy Prophet ( s w a). No one among all Muslim schools of thought remembers & calls him with deference.  He is invariably thought to be most hateful ruler the Muslim world has  known.

Now, we may look at one well known “personality” at our home called Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah. People say he did Land Reforms, (the author has dealt with JK Land Reforms in three issues of GK dated 25-1-2019, 1-2-2019& 25-6-2019), awakened Muslims of JK for importance of education & founded SKIMS & SKUAST, etc. It does not need elaboration for men of understanding to understand why in post-1975-Accord period, with liberal funding from Delhi, he, or his party NC, were allowed to “build” & use his sobriquet, Sher e Kashmir, so generously in building & naming everything in Kashmir after his name only. For example, SKIMS (built in 1977, named in 1982) & SKAUST (1982). There was Fakhri Kashmir, if not Khalide Kashmir, too there who was his long political comrade in Kashmir-politics. Why not Fakhri Kashmir name? Why Sher e Kashmir only? There is a reason for it. After 1977-election-victory, Sheikh Abdullah’s Youth Federation set up music & dance centres throughout the city of Srinagar  , Yuvani Centres, where young Kashmiris were performing frolics, dancing & singing comic songs which were daily broadcast on the Yuvani Service, a new music channel that was started by the Radio Kashmir Srinagar, those days. Wasn’t it a diversionary-tactic employed by him from what he had done after 22 years of “political wilderness”? Exactly, something like Bakshi GM had done during 1958-1963: Jishe Kashmir /Kashmir Festival? If Jishe Kashmir /Kashmir Festival were a well planned statecraft to divert people’s attention from Bakshi’s treachery with people’s aspiration & trust, what about Yuvani Clubs & Radio Kashmir Yuvani channel set up by Sheikh Abdullah’s administration in post-Accord period? Anybody’s guess.

Sheikh Abdullah’s “admirers” want him to be remembered for his mentioned “good deeds.” [Land Reforms, Educational Awakening & Constructing few hospitals, etc] First & foremost, I may say, he could have done all this good of Land Reforms, Education, SKIMS, SKUAST, etc, without doing what he did in 1939, 1947, and 1975, or without India even, but only if he had read history correctly & accordingly taken correct decisions at most crucial times of Kashmir political history. When we look at him in totality, we find him in poor light. A confused man full of contradictions & conflicts, within & outside his persona. He broke the Unity of Muslims of J&K (87% population in 1947, 97% in valley alone) for which the celebrated author & Chairperson of JK UNHRC Joseph Korbel blames him, the lion of Kashmir, as architect of present tragedy of J&K Muslims. The contemporary analytical historian, Christopher Snedden, has same opinion about him. Remember, these are just two authors & historians of great neutrality about Kashmir discourse. There are others too. Sheikh Abdullah was released on 29-09-1947 by the Maharaja at the behest of Pandit Nehru & Sardar Patel to help them with respect to Kashmir, to enter & captureKashmir. This is established beyond a nugget of doubt by the letter dated 26-09-1947 written by Nehru to Sardar Patel which well-documented in Sardar Patel’s Correspondence Volume One.  Sheikh did it most surreptitiously. This is history. No one can deny these well recorded historical facts, among myriad of others.

Why on 5th February 1948, he spoke “selectively” at length against atrocities of Qabaeel/tribals only? Why he remained silent in UN SC on massacre of lakhs of innocent civilians, Jammu Muslims, which most-not-discussed genocide was happening at the same time when he was “appointed” as Chief Emergency Administrator in the Maharaja Hari Singh’s rule on 29-09-1947? These are big questions that need answer. He continued to propagandize against his “political opponents” much to the joy of “enemies” of majority community. There is a long list of “bad jobs” of that man that he repeated & continued to repeat through his successors-in-chair too , since they all belonged to his parent party, NC, that totally negate “good jobs” done by him in his time. The magnitude of destruction & death caused to the people of JK by his “wrong actions” are the result of initial monumental blunders of that man. After 1947, when he was at the peak of his “power-career” & “Cult-Persona”, he crushed all “dissent” with strong-arm methods of administration & through his militiamen of notorious Peace Brigade & in post-Accord period, through a new ragtag of Kashmiri society, seerwallas. He did not allow any one speak against him & his methods were indeed “totalitarian”.

His “good deeds” are, therefore, out-rightly rejected and outweighed by the huge consequential role he played in Kashmir politics that converted this paradise into hell. The very mention of his diabolical political career opens & refreshes not only deep healed wounds but lacerates many more on Kashmiris’ body & soul because his historical blunders have had historical consequences for people of J&K. The history neither forgets nor forgives anyone howsoever big in his stature he might have been during his time.

M J Aslam  Author, academic & freelance columnist:




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