New land laws in Kashmir and the agony of Kashmiris

The new land laws have made Kashmiris even more insecure. Their distinct culture, ‘Kashmiriyat’ seems to be threatened

Photo Courtesy: Twitter/@ANI
Photo Courtesy: Twitter/@ANI

Humra Quraishi

Where are those rulers of the day who had come up with those clichéd slogans of Kashmiriyat, jamhuriyat and insaniyat, for the masses of the Kashmir region! Yes, where are their so called promises!

In the last several months, Kashmiriyat stands reduced to a mere tragedy for the inhabitants of that region. The latest shocker of course, are the new land laws under which non - agricultural land can be bought in that region, by those residing outside the region / Union Territory. Of course, the inhabitants are left fuming. Their worst fears seem to be coming true. In fact, a few years back when news had first come in of the setting up of Sainik colonies in the Kashmir Valley, Kashmiris had voiced their apprehensions and fears along the strain that they perceived the establishment’s plan of the setting up of these new colonies as a “ploy to get the Right- Wing political workers/cadres to reside in the Valley… in the coming years we inhabitants of this region could be deprived of our lands and abodes … driven out…where do we go …what would happen to us and our future generations!”

Lets see if the freshly ‘freed’ Kashmiri leaders are actually empowered enough to take on the ongoing dictates, these onslaughts.

This takes me to another Right-Wing agenda of linking Madrasas with terrorists. In fact, this has become a convenient ploy for the Hindutva brigades to attack the minority community.

I have been visiting madrasas for several years and seen for myself the bare basics in those madrasas. In fact, a large number of the madrasas do not have computers nor any of the modern day gadgets like radios or television sets.

This trend to heap all sorts of negatives to the madrasas seems a part of the Hindutva Agenda to harass and humiliate and even terrorize the madrasa children …It gets significant to point out that the madrasa- critics haven’t even bothered to study the history of the madrasas in the country.

In fact, till about the Partition a large number of Hindu families sent their children to study in the madrasas of their towns and cities and villages. This was one of those ongoing traditions in Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and in several other states. Mind you, literary giants like Munshi Premchand had studied in a madrasa. This tradition continued till about time the political climate started changing in the country.

Scholars and academics have countered the Right-Wing theory of linking madrasas with terrorists. They have categorically pointed out that the Right-Wing outfits had not so long ago accused the Christian missionaries of converting students and now these very outfits were targeting Muslim schools of learning. As Asghar Ali Engineer had commented at a public meet, “I don't know of any such madrasa which is linked with terror activity. If one were to talk of the particular madrasas in Pakistan, then its significant to know that they were started by the CIA, for a specific purpose! ”

When I’d asked publisher and scholar, Zafar-ul-Islam Khan, why madrasas get linked to terrorism, he explained, "When LK Advani said that madrasas are places of terrorist activities, we not just wrote strongly countering this but even sent a team of 10 to 12 reporters to the madrasas situated on the Indo-Nepal border to see and study the situation for themselves. And there was nothing! I have myself studied in a madrasa and there's nothing in madrasas except teaching. In fact, 60% teaching is of the regular subjects like Hindi, English, Social Sciences and about 40 % is religious study. Tell me what’s wrong with that! "

Why didn’t he counter those allegations made by LK Advani?

"How else could we have countered! We have even proof that all those comments made by LK Advani are baseless. I’d even retorted to Tavleen Singh's write-up and even asked her to visit the madrasas before levelling all those wild charges, but she didn't reply. What can one do to these persons flinging wild charges without any accountability! "

Nida Fazli’s verse continues to hold sway!

Though our celebrated poet Nida Fazli passed away almost four years back but on his birthday, October 12, I sat back recollecting details of my two meetings with him in New Delhi, when he was here to attend mushairas… I had asked him details to his poetic journey. And with that unfolded a rather tragic tale of his life.

Around the Partition time he was engaged to be married but the Partition played havoc. His entire family and that of his fiancé migrated to the newly carved country, Pakistan, but he did not move from here.…He was left back all alone and with that faced emotional turbulence. Travelled around North India, till he came to Mumbai and settled there.

I must also add here that during my those two meetings with him, as our conversation picked up, it emerged that our families belonged to qasba Aonla in Uttar Pradesh, and that, of course, added to the connectivity factor… in fact, we spoke much more about our ancestral qasba Aonla and less of Mumbai and Bollywood.

I also recall that before saying khuda-hafiz to Nida Fazli, I had to ask him one vital query- What happened on his personal front?

“Well, I found a companion in Mumbai… have settled in Mumbai for good, for ever!”

Leaving you with Nida Fazli’s verse- titled –Bombay- (translated from Urdu) tucked in the pages of the poetry volume ‘Kavita 93’ ( Virgo Publications)

What kind of place is this,
This settlement where I find myself?
A thousand echoing voices fill the air,

Countless breathes seethe in the breeze.
As far as the eye can see
There are shoulders, hips, shins, legs,
But not a single face.
In the morning, each one, young and old
Removes his shiny eyes,
His cheeks and smiling lips
From the hollow of his head
And puts them in his pocket.

It’s a strange city,
There’s no day, no night, no dusk:
The sun rises from the bus seats;
The moon rests in a dark hovel.

There is nothing here
But trains and buses,
Insensible seas crawling over the earth.
Buildings swallowing buildings.

How can you awaken this grave island?
You will be broken struggling against yourself.
There is not a single face
To be seen.”

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