Ram Madhav’s article on Kashmir: A manipulation of facts?

Several political observers and historians derided his opinion piece carried on Monday in a widely-read broadsheet of Kashmir as factually and historically wrong

BJP leader Ram Madhav (Photo Courtesy: PTI)
BJP leader Ram Madhav (Photo Courtesy: PTI)

Gulzar Bhat

On Monday, an opinion piece written by BJP's general secretary Ram Madhav appeared in a widely-read broadsheet of Kashmir. Madhav's nearly 1,100 word long article, titled "Are Gupkaris listening?", has been seen by many as factually and historically wrong.

Madhav started his article by arguing that Kashmiri mainstream identity politics used to be centred on an undefined concept of Kashmiriyat. However, the historic concept of Kashmiriyat is not only a well- defined term but is inseparable from and intrinsic to the secular and pluralistic cultural identity of Kashmir.

"Kashmiriyat is not a vague term. It reflects the secular and rich eclectic culture of the people of Kashmir," says a professor who teaches at University of Kashmir.

Even former Prime Minister and BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee propagated the term when he would say that the Kashmir issue should be resolved within the limits of ‘Insayinat, Kashmiriyat and Jamhooriyat’.

The reason which Madhav in his piece sees behind converting Muslim Conference into National Conference is rather ludicrous and utter manipulation of historical facts. For Madhav, the immediate reason for this conversion was Sheikh Abdullah's suspicion that Mirwaiz and some Jammu based Muslim leaders were hand in glove with Maharaja. Political historians in the Valley, however, disagree. According to them, there were a host of reasons and influences for this kind of transition, and among them "inclusivity and diversity" were two dominant factors.

"He wanted to take Kashmiri Pandits and other minorities along with him, and for this reason he converted Muslim Conference into National Conference," said a Srinagar-based political historian, who declined to be named. "He wanted to bring the political movement of Jammu and Kashmir at par with Indian national movement," he added.

Noted political observer Professor Gul Wani said that there many influences on Sheikh at that time. "The predominant reason for political movement at that time was the agrarian question. Nehru, who had a deep socialist influence on him, must have influenced the Shiekh that it is no longer a fight between Hindus and Muslims but between ‘Haves’ and ‘Have Nots’," said Wani.

Madhav has called the 1946 ‘Quit Kashmir movement’ launched against the autocratic Dogra ruler as illegitimate. Madhav’s piece appears somewhat paradoxical here as in one of the beginning paragraphs, he calls the movement against Dogra rulers as a "resistance movement".

"The Dogra rule was inherently exploitative and communal in nature and Sheikh had launched the movement on the lines of ‘Quit India movement’. Both the Kashmiri Hindus and Muslims were part of it," said another historian. "One should always see things in historical context," he added.

De-legitimising the mainstream

Since 2019, the BJP has been consistently trying to de-legitimize the mainstream political leaders of Kashmir. Even the top bureaucrats in the region enjoy enough leeway to deride these leaders. Last month, Jammu and Kashmir chief secretary BVR Subrahmanyam said that no one had cried over the detention of mainstream political leaders after the government stripped the region of its special status. He alleged that they had ‘committed frauds’ when in power.

Madhav in his write-up has also attacked the mainstream leaders by blaming them of injecting the dangerous Islamist discourse into state politics.

"Sadly, out of desperate political expediency, the very same mainstream leaders, forgetting their own history, are trying to inject a dangerous Islamist discourse into the state politics today. It is true that radical Islamism is growing in the Valley. Terror groups with that narrative are trying hard to gain currency. Turkey and Erdogan are increasingly finding space in this new narrative. But to exploit it for political ends by mainstream leaders is most obnoxious," Madhav wrote.

Sajad Ahmad Dar, a Kashmiri researcher who works for a New Delhi-based policy group, says that none of the pro-India political parties propagated radicalism in the Valley. "These are unfounded claims. Actually, Madhav is trying to build a national narrative around Islamism to deny the mainstream political leadership of Kashmir their legitimate right demanding the restoration of special position of J & K," adds Dar.

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Google News, Instagram 

Join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines