Friday, September 23, 2011
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Our reply as reported by the media is here.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
There is an interesting take away from the following press report (on Geelani at the recently concluded India Today Conclave) of a gentleman called Arpit Parashar in the Tehelka. It nomenclates Syed Ali Shah Geelani as Chairman of the Hurriyat Conference but prefers to call us as a right wing Kashmiri group.Even by my own godless ways of life and belief in the Nietzschean ideology of a dead god I wouldn’t be apologetic to call Geelani an Islamic Bigot. Look at the inverse logic that our journos including Arpit use.Geelani to them needs no affirmative fixing label irrespective of his regular pronouncements that Kashmir should merge into Pakistan because it is a muslim majority area.That he believes Islam is the glue between Kashmiris and Pakistan obviously isn’t feeding any frenzy at all,right or left.That he got Abdul Ghani Lone killed because Lone had apparently looked towards India for a solution doesn’t set any alarm bells ringing into our friend Arpit or the likes of many such apologists of hate.That Geelani invokes religion (Islam here) to drive mobs and to frenzy is pious and just because we protest against such ideologues of hate is being right wing.
I wouldn’t mind being branded a radical Hindu provided I was one. In 22 years of our exile Kashmiri Pandits have not killed, maimed or even injured one Muslim. They have not brought down,burnt,ransacked or even partially destroyed the properties of any Muslims despite the fact their own houses lie destroyed and their places of worship desecrated.Yet Arpit and likes have a nomenclature for us.
But humko kahein kafir, Allah ki marzi Hain
The idols nomenclate me as the infidel,there must be God’s will in this.
That brings us back to the India Today Conclave. We at Roots in Kashmir do believe that we must be statesmanlike when it comes to finding solutions to issues as vexed as Kashmir. Neither is it our argument not to involve people who differ with our viewpoint on Kashmir.Infact we would welcome every move that would result in a solution to the Kashmir issue. What we all need to decide is whether people like Geelani are or can actually pave the way forward for any kind of solution at all, or are they a part of the problem itself. Before a reputed media organization like India Today decided to call Geelani(unless they wanted to call his bluff, which I do not rule out) to address the conclave don’t they believe that it is necessary to do a basic background check on the man who is a sworn Islamist and known fascist even by the most liberal standards. It is not for nothing that even NDTV calls him a hardliner. Not the first time though has India Today invited a killer of humanity to its Conclave.Earlier in 2008 they had Yasin Malik to address a session on Youth.Yasin Malik is to Geelani what Chemical Ali was to Saddam Hussein.So it wouldn’t be entirely wrong to expect the Burmese dictator or even a Qadafi next year.
If India Today believes that such people could be a part of the solution then either they are too naïve or too conspiring.
Now that he was allowed rather graciously to be a part of the Aroon Puri’s solution to Kashmir let us see what he brought to the table. He looked sheepish from the word go. Clearly this wasn’t his territory.There weren’t many in the crowd albeit some Pakistani diplomats and was Nayeem Khan there too, who would purchase his blood red wares. He was incoherent, gone was his nonchalant way with which he dismisses opponents in Kashmir.The village boy looked clearly like a cat on a hot tin roof that too in a huge city. Obviously he had nothing new to say. He mumbled the usual stuff but had neatly packaged it, though he couldn’t deliver it well. He spoke of “human rights violations” and the” brutality” of the Indian State the same state that paid his medical bills and appealed to the US government to grant him a visa. Haven’t we heard that before? He didn’t explain why it took him a week despite huge public pressure to announce a hartal when two girls in his hometown were recently murdered by forces loyal to His Master’s Voice. He tried to his best evoke some sympathy among his listeners and was getting exasperated by the second because people could see through his spiel.
Though he was the last speaker of the session and thus had the opportunity to reply to Arif Mohammed Khan’s fervent, logical and passionate speech but it seemed Geelani had clearly lost it. Seemed someone had understood the essence of Holy Koran better than Geelani and obviously had more to do with Kashmir’s glorious but pre-islamic or even secular past. He was stumped by Arif Mohammed’s references to Kalhan, Lalleshwari and Nund Rishi.Arif Mohammed had his day.But the worst for Geelani was yet to come.It was left to a young exiled Pandit to tell the audience how his mother wrapped him in a cloth to escape death at the hands of Geelani’s zealots when he was barely nine months old.The more inconvenient question was why Geelani had Abdul Ghani Lone(one of his own Hurriyat members killed). Aditya Raj Kaul had the audience cheering and when Geelani tom tommed the usual conspiracy by Jagmohan it was received by jeers from the crowd.
(Conclave Video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGxT646o4CA )
It is well known that people with dictatorial tendencies brook no opposition and therefore are not used to civil means. They are at their wits ends when questioned about their ideology or the means that they use to achieve their ends.No one in Kashmir dares ask Geelani such questions. That person would be history. Pity Ghani Loni made that mistake.
Monday, March 21, 2011
Saturday, February 5, 2011
On the 13th day of this March we will all sing together, dance together shout aloud til...l our voice resonates in the valley. As a new generation of Kashmiri musicians change tacks from Chakri to Rock to fusion or the more mellowed form of music, we will sing to the celebration of life in a new way and mark the arrival of the next gen of the Kashmiri Pandits.
Renowned bands like Prithvi, October, young Santoor masteros and the nightingales of the valley will set the stage on fire and illuminate the flame within us. The flame of continuity – Reh as it is aptly called in Kashmiri.
Reh - the flame of eternalness, the flame of warmth and togetherness, the flamer of love and brotherhood, the flame of enlightenment, the flame that keep the young generation of Kashmiri Pandits treading.
Come, lets all celebrate the joy of togetherness, the commonness of our roots, the bond of love.
-Entry by Complimentary Pass only.
To obtain passes contact:
Amal Magazine - 9873900479
Anoop Bhat - 9911543003
Sanjay Peshin - 8527764911
Thursday, January 20, 2011
It is cold in here. It’s chilly enough in April; January is pretty much a lost case. The rain joins in randomly from time to time... October was bright and red. Today is white, with amassed snow. But the rain overshadows it all; it is slushy and gloomy.
“Yi chu poore Kashir hyu”, Mumma had said, back when she was visiting.
It is cold in here. You need a strong wind-and-rain-proof jacket outside.
But, indoors, the pheran will do.
The one I’m wearing is my first actual big pheran. At least the first one bought in my name. It has pastel-coloured kadhai on a camel base. I didn’t like the look of it at first, aside from the small matter that it reached right until my ankles. My grandmother, expert tailor that she is, immediately took out a one-inch lad, out in the front. The pheran remains voluminous. I was also sceptical of bringing it here. This is as un-American as it gets. But a week ago, I took the bait of wearing it, feigning élan. It works. People like it and the other smaller pherans I keep on wearing. Though a friend did get curious, seeing me repeatedly wear these ‘traditional clothes’. “Is it by any chance because you hate the West and are making a statement out of it?” I clarified; this was traditional ‘winterwear’. I just like wearing it, I said.
But who knows if I was making a statement out of it? Kashir, and any connection whatsoever with it, has always made me feel special. It is entirely possible that I show it off. Knowingly and unknowingly; before Indians and Americans.
“Where are you from in India?” - standard question anybody mildly interested in you will ask. “Oh! That’s complicated.” “How so?” “Umm…so, I belong to one part, Kashmir; I was born and brought up in another part - a small town in the east called Ranchi, but I live in yet another part – Delhi.” “Oh Delhi!” “Yeah, Delhi.” “That’s so cool!” “Yeah.”
Few understand the ‘belong’ part. You don’t belong to places in America, in general. And certainly not if you have spent a grand total of 9 days in that place.
That fall night, there was a cool breeze, yet it was warm enough to sit outside. My favourite tree in the college courtyard was glowing. It was the tree, for me. In daylight, it was bright orange, shining above the humble green ones and making me smile. That night though, with the lamp shining right below its hood, it looked like it had been set on fire. The moon had long hidden itself; the sky was illuminated.
But the carpet of dried leaves at the bottom of the tree kept on growing, with every gust of the wind. There were beautiful leaves up there – most had a shade of the lightest green at the base changing into the brightest red at the tip - but slowly and surely, the dried ones were falling off.
The moon had long hidden itself; the sky was illuminated, but the tree was undoubtedly dying.
I didn’t understand what to make of it.
Or probably I did.
Then came nausheen. My dark and gloomy Yale suddenly metamorphosed into a white princess. Beautiful is a gross understatement.
People huddled indoors… I went walking out in the snow; I danced, out in the snow. I caught it with my lips…I kissed it, I ate it. Euphoria is a shallow word.
This was way too similar to the first time I had ever seen falling snow. But that was Kashir, right? This was America, for goodness’ sake.
The happiness persisted. It felt like a new dawn.
Perhaps exile begins when you start making new homes, outside home. As someone who values stability zealously, I doubt if I have ever been able to have it truly, or ever will. I left Ranchi midway while growing up; I reached Delhi too old to really grow up there again. Kashir I made up in my mind. None of them belong to me.
This place is different – I haven’t joined it midway; I will not leave it midway. This is real. Nobody can kick me out of here. These four years are mine to make what I want of them. I will belong to them. And they will belong to me, forever.
Above this hard, strong, reality however, I will make my castle in the air.
Because thankfully, castles in the air don’t need roots.
I will keep on thinking that I’m a Kashmiri, much as that Ingenious Gentleman, Don Quixote of La Mancha kept on thinking that he was a knight errant.
I will speak my language, till I am the last one left to speak it.
I will wear that pheran, with the lad taken out.
I will look at those orange elm trees in the fall as if they were the red chinars of Tulmulla.
I will look at the falling snow as if it were falling in Srinagar.
I will live what I can of my land. My grandmother’s stories and my own eyes have given me enough to do that for a lifetime.
Oh, I know it might be too hard for you to believe it.
Just like it was for the Kashmiri Muslim guy I met at JFK, traveling with his wife and baby.
“Toh chuv Kashir?” I had asked, imitating Papa, as soon as I heard my tongue in the melee of the airport. He was speechless for a few moments. But his eyes betrayed his disbelief, in me. He couldn’t believe that a Kashmiri-speaking Hindu girl, alone in America, could exist. Let alone the fact that she had asked him if he was a Kashmiri.
Delude yourself. I will live on.
Burn my pheran and call it ‘unfortunate’; I will keep the ashes. Shred it and call it ‘a thing of the past’; I will keep the threads.
Because these aren’t just any threads; they are the same ones that made my parents’ pherans, my grandparents’ pherans, my bhagwanji’s pheran. They are the same threads that root me, that root that burning orange elm tree. The winds will come and go, and winter will approach. But I will be the last leaf. I will burn and never fall.
Let the moon hide itself; the sky will still shine.
- Radhika Koul
Radhika is a freshman at Yale University. She can be reached at radhika(dot)koul(at)gmail(dot)com
Photos courtesy Eun Sung Yang, Yale '14.
"Yi chu poore Kashir hyu" means "This is just like Kashmir."
A pheran is a loose fitting woollen gown, reaching below the knees.
Kadhai is embroidery.
A Lad is a fold made near the bottom of the pheran to reduce the length. The fold was made on the outside among the Hindus and on the inside among the Muslims.
Nausheen is the first day of snow in the winter.
The chinar is an oriental plane tree, big, with maple-like leaves, indigenous to Greece and Turkey but very common in Kashmir.
Tulmulla is a shrine devoted to the Mother Goddess in south Kashmir, held extremely sacred by Kashmiri Hindus.
Friday, January 14, 2011
We are not writing the editor's note on this one simply because a word that we may write may be construed as support by the jaundiced eye.
Here is what the ertswhile Governor of J&K has to say on the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits.
I am deeply dismayed to see that a national daily of the standing of The Indian Express should have given so much prominence (‘Forces, Jagmohan, Mufti Sayeed drove Pandits out: Farooq’s brother’, IE, January 10), to an apparently false allegation of Mustafa Kamal, a politician of little standing, about the exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley in “early 1990”. Is it believable that practically all the members of a highly intelligent community like that of Kashmiri Pandits would leave, from every village, town and city, their hearths and homes, without caring for their properties, business, children schooling and their future, merely because some one in government asks them to do so? The concoction is writ large on the face of the allegation itself. And yet, shockingly, it has received wide publicity in your newspaper!
Let me tell your readers, on the basis of concrete facts and contemporaneous records, what the conditions were in the Valley before my arrival on the scene on January 19, 1990, and how a permissive and paralysed coalition government, headed by Dr Farooq Abdullah, had virtually abdicated all authority to the militants and allowed them to establish complete sway over the Valley.
From June 19, 1989 to January 19, 1990, that is, in six months, there were 319 violent incidents in the Valley — 21 armed attacks, 114 bomb blasts, 112 arsons and 72 incidents of mob violence. To demonstrate to the whole world their total hold over the Valley, the militants kidnapped, on December 8, Dr Rubaiya Sayeed, daughter of the Union home minister, from the gate of Srinagar’s Lal Ded Hospital, and released her only after the state and Central governments capitulated and conceded their demand of freeing five top terrorists. This capitulation left the general public in no doubt about the ultimate victory of the militants. Even the doubting Thomases went over to their side and swelled their ranks.
Under a sinister plan to throw out “infidels” and “agents” of the Union from the Valley, Kashmiri Pandits were especially targeted. Prominent members of the community were picked up for slaughter, one by one. For example, Tikka Lal Tiploo, leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party, was shot dead on September 14, Judge N.K. Ganjoo on November 4 and journalist P.N. Bhatt on December 28.
The terror-stricken Pandit community, in a memorandum dated January 16, 1990, to the then governor, General K.V. Krishna Rao, said: “Instead of the government, it is the militants who are the de facto rulers in the Valley today... Happenings in Anantnag, Sopore, Baramulla, Tral, Nurran, Pulwama, Ishber, Vicharnag, Shopian and other places in the Valley are indicative of the fundamentalists’ designs regarding their planned targets of attack on the minorities... The pace of exodus has further accelerated now... Not even a single assailant of the minority leaders and others has either been identified or apprehended by the police.”
Soon after I took over, I did my best to stem the exodus. This would be clear from the press note of March 7, 1990, which was given wide publicity at that time. This note, inter alia, said: “Jagmohan appealed to the members of the Pandit community who have temporarily migrated to Jammu to return to the Valley. He offered to set up temporary camps at four places, namely, Srinagar, Anantnag, Baramulla and Kupwara for those who return from Jammu.”
In the meanwhile, treacherous and brutal killings of innocent Kashmiri Pandits continued in the Valley. Those killed included prominent persons like engineer B.K. Ganjoo, poet Sarvanand Premi and his young son Virender Kaul, Professor K.L. Ganjoo and his wife, the teacher C.L. Pandita. Press notices were prominently put out in the widely-read Srinagar dailies Aftab and Alsafa, requiring Kashmiri Pandits to leave within 48 hours, failing which they would run the risk of being exterminated. Photocopies of these notices have been printed by me in my book My Frozen Turbulence in Kashmir.
There are many other pieces of hard evidence which show that the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits was caused by relentlessly pursuing the ISI-sponsored plan of “killing one and frightening 1,000.” Disinformation was built into this plan. Tragically, for petty political ends, persons like Mustafa Kamal have been committing the crime of disinformation. They have been butchering truth, while the militants have been butchering individuals.
The writer was governor of Jammu and Kashmir between January and May 1990
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Book: The Garden Of Solitude
Author: Siddhartha Gigoo
Publisher: Rupa & Co.