The Kashmir

December 23, 2009

My name is not Khan, I am Mr Kaul


By Tarun Vijay

Tarun VijayI am not Khan. My name bears a different set of four letters: K A U L. Kaul. As those who know Indian names would understand I happened to be born in a family which was called Hindu by others. Hence, we were sure, we would never get a friend like KJ to make a movie on our humiliations, and the contemptuous and forced exile from our homeland. It’s not fashionable. It’s fashionable to get a Khan as a friend and portray his agony and pains and sufferings when he is asked by a US private to take off his shoes and show his socks. Natural and quite justifiable that Khan must feel insulted and enraged. Enough Masala to make a movie.

But unfortunately I am a Kaul. I am not a Khan.

Hence when my sisters and mothers were raped and killed, when six-year-old Seema was witness to the brutal slaughtering of her brother, mother and father with a butcher’s knife by a Khan, nobody ever came to make a movie on my agony, pain and anguish, and tears.

No KJ would make a movie on Kashmiri Hindus. Because we are not Khans. We are Kauls.

When we look at our own selves as Kauls, we also see a macabre dance of leaders who people Parliament. Some of them were really concerned about us. They got the bungalows and acres of greenery and had their portraits were worshipped by the gullible devotees of patriotism.

They made reservations in schools and colleges for us. In many many other states. But never did they try that we go back to our homes. They have other priorities and ‘love your jihadi neighborhood’ programmes. They get flabbier and flabbier with the passing of each year, sit on sacks of sermons; issue instructions to live simply and follow moral principles delivered by ancestors and kept in documents treated with time-tested preservatives.

They could play with me because my name is Kaul. And not Mr Khan. I saw the trailer to this fabulous movie, which must do good business at the box office.

There was not even a hint that terror is bad and it is worse if it is perpetuated in the name of a religion that means Peace. Peace be upon all its followers and all other the creatures too.

So you make a movie on the humiliation of taking off shoes to a foreign police force which has decided not to allow another 9/11.

The humiliation of taking off the shoes and the urge to show that you are innocent is really too deep. But what about the humiliation of leaving your home and hearth and the world and the relatives and wife and mother and father? And being forced to live in shabby tents, at the mercy of nincompoop leaders encashing your misery and bribe-seeking babus? And seeing your daughters growing up too sudden and finding no place to hide your shame?

No KJ would ever come forward to make a movie, a telling, spine-chilling narration on the celluloid, of five-year-old Seema, who saw her parents and brother being slaughtered by a butcher’s knife in Doda. Because her dad was not Mr Khan. He was one Mr Kaul.

Sorry, Mr Kaul and your entire ilk. I can’t help you.

It’s not fashionable to side with those who are Kauls. And Rainas. And Bhatts. Dismissively called KPs. KPs means Kashmiri Pandits. They are a bunch of communalists. They were the agents of one Mr Jagmohan who planned their exodus so that Khans can be blamed falsely. In fact, a movie can be made on how these KPs conspired their own exile to give a bad name to the loving and affectionate Khan brothers of the valley.

To voice the woes of Kauls is sinful. The right course to get counted in the lists of the Prime Minister’s banquets and the President’s parties is to announce from the roof top: hey, men and ladies, I am Mr Khan.

The biggest apartheid the state observes is to exclude those who cry for Kauls, wear the colours of Ayodhya, love the wisdom of the civilisational heritage, dare to assert as Hindus in a land which is known as Hindustan too and struggle to live with dignity as Kauls. They are out and exiled. You can see any list of honours and invites to summits and late-evening gala parties to toast a new brand. All that the Kauls are allowed is a space at Jantar Mantar: shout, weep and go back to your tents after a tiring demonstration. Mr Kaul, you have got a wrong name.

A dozen KJs would fly to take you atop the glory – posts and gardens of sympathies if you accept to wear a Khan name and love a Sunita, Pranita, Komal or a Kamini. Well, here you have a sweetheart in Mandira. That goes well with the story.

And you pegged the movie plot on autism.

I wept. It was too much. I wept as a father of a son who needed a story as an Indian. Who cares for his autistic son, his relationship with the western world, his love affair with a young sweet something as a human, as someone whose heart goes beyond being a Hindu, a Muslim or a proselytizing Vatican-centric aggressive soul. Not the one who would declare in newspaper interviews: “I think I am an ambassador for Islam”. Shah Rukh is Shah Rukh, not because he is an ambassador for Islam. If that was true, he could have found a room in Deoband. Fine enough. But he became a heartthrob and a famousl star because he is a great actor. He owes everything he has to Indians and not just to Muslims. We love him not because he is some Mr Khan. We love him because he has portrayed the dreams, aspirations, pains, anguish and ups and downs of our daily life. As an Indian. As one of us.

If he wants to use our goodwill and love for strengthening his image as an ambassador for Islam, will we have to think to put up an ambassador for Hindus? That, at least to me, would be unacceptable because I trust everyone: a Khan or a Kaul or a Singh or a Victor. Who represents India represents us all too, including Hindus. My best ambassadorship would be an ambassadorship for the tricolour and not for anything else because I see my Ram and Dharma in that. I don’t think even an Amitabh or a Hritik would ever think in terms Shah Rukh has chosen for himself. But shouldn’t these big, tall, successful Indians who wear Hindu names make a movie on why Kauls were ousted? Why Godhra occurred in the first place? Why nobody, yes, not a single Muslim, comes forward to take up the cause of the exiled and killed and contemptuously marginalized Kauls whereas every Muslim complainant would have essentially a Hindu advocate to take on Hindus as fiercely as he can?

If you are Mr Khan and found dead on the railway tracks, the entire nation would be shaken. And he was also a Rizwan. May be just a coincidence that our Mr Khan in the movie is also a Rizwan.

Rizwan’s death saw the police commissioner punished and cover stories written by missionary writers. But if you are a Sharma or a Kaul and happened to love an Ameena Yusuf in Srinagar, you would soon find your corpse inside the police thana and NONE, not even a small-time local paper would find it worthwhile to waste a column on you. No police constable would be asked to explain how a wrongly detained person was found dead in police custody?

Because the lover found dead inside a police thana was not Mr Khan. No KJ would ever come forward to make a movie on ‘My name is Kaul. And I am terror-struck by Khans’.

Give me back my identity as an Indian, Mr. Khan and I would have no problem even wearing your name and appreciating the tender love of an autistic son.

Source : Times Of India

Tarun Vijay’s Blog : http://tarun-vijay.blogspot.com/

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December 2, 2009

Kashmir’s struggle for so-called azaadi has been subsumed by the worldwide jihad – – Tavleen Singh


Times have Changed, Issues are Different

There was a time when it seemed as if a solution in Kashmir could bring peace with Pakistan. That time has gone. The Taliban now have a grander plan for the subcontinent

T he average Indian is so bored with Kashmir these days that I always hesitate to raise the subject in a column. If I do this week it is because a meeting took place in Delhi that has to go down as one of the most extraordinary in recent times. It was organized by social activist Madhu Kishwar under the auspices of the Centre for the Studies of Developing Societies, on November 7, and I went along because she invited a glittering array of politicians from Kashmir. I have not been to Srinagar in more than five years and thought the meeting could be a good way to revive my interest in a subject I once wrote a book on.

Among those who came to the meeting in the library of the Nehru Memorial were Mehbooba Mufti, Muzzafar Baig who was Deputy Chief Minister in the last government, Mohammad Sufi Uri from the National Conference, Professor Abdul Ghani Butt from the Hurriyat and Yasin Malik from the Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF). The meeting was chaired by Ram Jethmalani and attended by journalists, academics, Kashmir activists and sundry others. It was a full house.

Madhu, an eager beaver peacenik as ever was, began the day’s discussions by emphasizing loudly and often that we were gathered together to find solutions. Despite this, things got off to an interminably dull start because Mr Uri from the National Conference made a long, boring speech that was full of historical grievances that everyone present was more than familiar with. Muzaffar Baig took over from him and was more interesting because he offered a solution. He said that Kashmir’s borders needed to be made irrelevant as Dr Manmohan Singh has himself often promised. Instead of redrawing maps there should be a softening of the borders so that Kashmiris, Pakistanis and Indians could come and go freely and there should be ‘‘dual currency’’. In view of what is happening in Afghanistan and Pakistan, this suggestion seemed so naively oblivious of geo-political realities that I went up to him when he finished speaking and asked if he had heard of the Taliban. Was he aware that this group of Islamist jihadis was close to threatening the existence of Pakistan and Afghanistan? How long would it take the Taliban to conquer Kashmir if Indian troops were withdrawn? He laughed sheepishly.

In any case the meeting carried on peacefully and in a dull sort of way until the late afternoon when it came to Yasin Malik’s turn to speak. I had not seen him in many years and was impressed to see him look dapper and elegant in a black, velvet jacket and a black and white polka-dotted shirt instead of the drab, Kashmiri clothes he usually wears. He looked more like an urbane Srinagar businessman than the terrorist he once was, but he was not allowed to forget his past. No sooner did he rise to speak than the meeting deteriorated into chaos.  The hall was filled with insults hurled at him by a group of young Kashmir Pandits who till then had sat silent and unnoticed.

‘‘We will not allow this monster to speak,’’ they yelled, ‘‘ask him who raped and killed Sarla Bhatt? Ask him how many Hindus he has killed? He is a terrorist. He has no right to be here.’’  They said other things as well, angry, ugly things, and they made so much noise as they stood up and shouted their abuse that the meeting was totally disrupted for several minutes. Yasin Malik was infuriated and ready to leave. It was only after many entreaties from Madhu and Mr Jethmalani that he agreed to speak. But then Mr Jethmalani put his foot into it by saying that he himself loved Pakistan more than Pakistanis loved Pakistan and that all Indians should develop a similar love for Pakistan. Then he added there would have been no militancy in Kashmir at all if the 1987 elections had not been rigged to coincide unfortunately with a large number of mujahideen in Afghanistan suddenly becoming ‘‘unemployed’’ because the Soviet Union withdrew its troops.

Yasin Malik decided to pick this up as the starting point of his speech. He said, ‘‘I was shocked to hear Jethmalani Sahib say what he did. I was the one who started the armed struggle in Kashmir and I was neither Afghan nor unemployed. I picked up the gun because it seemed there was nothing else to do. We had tried peaceful means to achieve azaadi and failed.’’

He then gave details of how the JKLF was among the groups that had set up the Muslim United Front to contest the Assembly elections in 1987. ‘‘We contested the elections because we thought that if we won we would declare Kashmir independent through a resolution in the Assembly but they were not prepared to give us our basic democratic rights. So we had no recourse but to pick up the gun.’’ He added that he had given up violence because he was persuaded by the ‘‘Indian civil society’’ that solutions could come peacefully. He felt betrayed, he said, because he now knew that all the Indian civil society could do was talk.

The Kashmiri Pundits were not going to take that lying down even if the panelists were, and they started yelling that the armed struggle had never ended. What about the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen? Who were they? And who were the other militant groups that continued to kill innocent people in Kashmir?

In the end there was more rancour and rage than debate, and the solution to our Kashmir problem remained as elusive as ever. Sitting next to me at one point was General Lakhvinder Singh, a hero of the Kargil war, and I asked him if he thought that there was any chance of reducing the deployment of Indian troops in Kashmir. He said, ‘‘We’ve tried it. And wherever we have reduced deployment we have seen an immediate increase in militant activities. It is not as easy as these politicians make it sound.’’

It is not easy at all because it is clear to many of us who have followed the Kashmir story carefully for many, many years that the problem has changed. There was a time when it seemed as if a solution in Kashmir could bring peace with Pakistan. That time has gone. Kashmir’s struggle for so-called azaadi has been subsumed by the worldwide jihad. The Taliban have a grander plan for the Indian subcontinent. They want to conquer Islamabad, and when that is done they want the flag of Islam to fly over India.

Author : Ms Tavleen Singh

Source : SentinelAssam

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