Kashmir In search of Subhan Hajam

Subhan Hajam

History has become witness to the fact that when plans to destroy the identity or the character of any nation were conspired in political institutions, one of the strategies induced in the society was to create social chaos and confusion. Creating an environment of threat perception, robbing of identity, grabbing of property or reducing social cohesions had been made the norm of life.

Muslims across the globe have been at the forefront of these ulterior designs, be it prelude to crusade wars or end of the Ottomans or partition of the Subcontinent. Innumerable attempts were made to spread evil forces in the society so that people become so much engrossed into it that they had no time to think about big issues like losing their identity or uniqueness or cultural onslaught from their enemies.

In reality, nations are not only destroyed by gunpowder or nuclear missiles, they are eliminated by inducing corruption, chaos and immorality to such an extent that it gives the legitimacy to create social disorder in the community. In the past, Saints and Sufis would appear at such testing times to save the nations from moral degradation, but there are only evil forces around at the moment that get multiplied at the behest of some big Satan somewhere.

Muslims were blessed by invaluable assets in the form of Qur’an and Hadith which have acted as guide and a teacher at every stage of their life but unfortunately, Muslim society has not spared itself from the degradation and decadence of greed, promiscuity and social abyss. Even, believing in one God, Quran and Prophet SAW, Muslims have become one of the most disintegrated and disingenuous lot in the world. They have become their own self destructors. And, this destruction has led them to lose land, life and livelihood.

The Subcontinent which has seen the worst religious riots at the time of partition has proved always strife for more sectarian to intolerance mayhem. Kashmir has tried hard to stand against this and has defeated the conspiracies to pit Sikhs, Pandits and Muslims against each other but how long can it spare itself is a big question. Even urban rural division was made visible to create mistrust. Gratitude to those Kashmiris who mobilized and united all to thwart these divisive forces. But, how long to resist and carry on without paying the price when these forces are visibly active under official protection.

English mountaineer and historian, Robert Thorpe has written that “in Kashmir, when Muslims were subjected to political atrocities during the Dogra rule, the tactics of mental torture were also used so that they would not be able to raise their heads in moral degradation. One of the policies of the Dogra rulers was to legitimize women’s prostitution dens and send Kashmiri girls for sale in remote areas of Punjab and Bombay. Thus, diverting the public’s attention from political looting of Muslim population who would get engaged in social and moral issues. Because of poverty and hunger, they were reduced to mere slavery and bonded labour and hardly anybody would find courage to raise head or voice against this”.

In the midst of this impoverishment and dilapidation, a barber by the name of Muhammad Subhan Hajam, who lived in Lalchowk, dared to start a campaign against the prostitution which later took the shape of a public movement that led to demands of political rights.  He had to face the wrath of the Maharaja’s army and had to go in hiding for secret mobilisation.

Subhan had a barber shop in Srinagar from where he gathered and mobilised different sections of the society and awakened them about the dire consequences of this immoral policy. He published pamphlets and leaflets, circulated it among handful literate people, who went door to door making locals aware about this social evil. Although the Dogra Maharaja had ignored his submissions and pleas for abolishing the act, people had become alert of the evils that has the patronage of a ruler. Privately, Muslims succeeded to some extent in protecting their women in not falling prey to the hands of the pimps and flesh traders.

Another conspiracy of Hindu Muslim conflict in Kashmir was hatched when the Dogra Maharaja was advised to ban selling of beef on Tuesdays, even though the Muslims, considering the religious sanctity of this day for Pundits, would refrain from selling or eating beef on that day. It has found mention in the ‘Valley of Kashmir’ by Walter Lawrence who did call it a great tradition of Kashmiri secular character.

The sale and purchase of beef in various parts of India has been banned for almost a decade since pro-Hindutva state governments prohibited cow slaughter and lynched some Muslims for selling or eating beef. Many Muslim shops were subjected to violence even though the import and export business is mostly controlled by Hindus. Muslim countries import meat from Indian traders, many of whom are leading Hindutva activists.

Kashmir is probably the only place in the subcontinent where alcohol consumption is naught. There are almost no liquor stores or shops except few in Jammu where Hindus consume it without any restrictions.

A few decades ago, the government dared to open a couple of liquor shops during the peak of armed movement. Hardly anyone would dare to pass by, not to talk of buying it. Probably, the shops are close to the military cantonment camp where citizens feel reluctant to pass through anyway, then the drunkards are also afraid of stoning if found under intoxication. Yet, a few drivers have been found buying liquor amid darkness with covered faces.

Until a few years ago, Kashmir did not face a drug problem. According to some experts, it has been introduced into society under some patronage in order to divulge youth into it. A significant number of young people have become addicted to it. Recently, an athlete named Nighat Bashir revealed in the press about a large network of drug dealers due to which her relative has also become addicted to drugs. She says that local brokers and some officials of security agencies are running this business together.

Kashmiri parents are very concerned about the education and upbringing of their children. They sacrifice everything to keep them away from drug addiction, alcohol or prostitution which has never been a part of Kashmiri society, yet many tactics are being used to subjugate Kashmiris in every aspect of their life and reduce them in moral turpitude.

There are many rumours making rounds in Kashmir that government has identified seventy places for liquor shops to open, which has caused quite a stir on social media recently. Although, an official spokesman later reiterated that the Ministry of Finance has not yet approved the project. The general impression among Muslims in Jk is that the BJP government in the centre has not only pledged to destroy Kashmir’s identity and its character, it has become determined to reduce this society to moral abyss. Consequently, the Nation will get buried in the pages of history and the obliteration of the Kashmir issue will be forever.

According to one of the social workers in Kashmir, “the government has realization of the fact that there was only one Subhan Hajam in the Dogra era that did not care about his life or livelihood to stop prostitution business in the Valley. There are more than ten million Hajams ready now to lay their life to thwart the conspiracy of Hindutva rulers for robbing Kashmir of its identity, institutions and moral dignity”.

(Writer is a penguin author and columnist of Independent Urdu).




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