Some Moral Questions

....... that stare us straight in the face

Aarif Muzafar Rather
Srinagar, Publish Date: Apr 22 2018 10:57PM | Updated Date: Apr 22 2018 10:57PM
Some Moral QuestionsFile Photo

A couple of years ago, when a delegation of Muslim farmers from Jammu visited Lal Singh with a complaint, he threatened them with a less talked of massacres in the history of Jammu and Kashmir. He said to them: ‘Gujjaro! Have you forgotten 1947?’ Lal Singh later denied having said this after a complaint was filed against him saying that he was referring to the temperature of Jammu that in his sharp memory was an odd figure of 47 degrees Celsius. He was later supported by a minister of Mehbooba Mufti’s cabinet as well.

What happened in 1947 is a lesser-known genocide of modern times. The irony and politics over the recognition of genocides in the past continued in this one as well. For example, Turkey still does not recognize the genocide of Armenians and if any Turkish national talks about it, he is shown the prison walls. Similarly, the ‘state’ of Israel, itself a victim of a nasty genocide, does not recognize the Armenian genocide because of its good relations with Turkey. What made the genocide of Muslims in Jammu even more suppressed is the fact that they were not killed in an atmosphere of hostility, but silently, when Nehru, Gandhi, Patel, Sheikh were all playing their respective roles in the power-politics of the state and Golwalkar was making the most of it by killing the ‘demons’ threatening his ‘Hindu nation’.

Sheikh Abdullah in his autobiography puts the blame of genocide directly on Rashtriya Swayam Sangh. He writes about Mehr Chand Mahajan, J&K’s Prime Minister at that point of time and one of India’s Chief Justices later, that he supplied arms to RSS loyalists which is an indication of the state complicity in the massacre. Sheikh Abdullah also refers to Nuremberg trial and suggests that the Maharaja and Mahajan could have been tried for crimes against humanity in the same manner as the Nazis (Sheikh uses the term ‘inhuman crimes’). Sheikh Abdullah could have sided with the Muslims of Jammu then, but he did not. He sided with his own aspirations of power, not his peoples’ problems and pains. A man of mass support did not need Nehru’s advice on Kashmir because Jammu genocide should have been a sufficient indication of the fate that lay ahead for us.

There has been little or no talk about the genocide in public spheres and many Muslims living in Jammu itself do not know about the horrors of their past. It is because the operation was carried out with the undercover assistance of the state, Sheikh Abdullah’s wilful negligence and the perpetual fear of those who survived the carnage. Saeed Naqvi in his book, Being the Other: the Muslim in India, says that the holocaust in Jammu has been a story hidden from public view by the machinations of the very people who covertly allowed the massacres to take place. Interestingly, to Lal Singh’s acceptance of the massacres, the Muslims of Jammu had one simple response: ‘What happened in 1947? Please let us know.’

This was one of the first incidents where Indian public failed the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Later, what we endured as a people is no less than a thousand genocides in one or the other way. The operational and organized violence that befell us found no condemnations anywhere. The Indian public stood complicit in the state-sanctioned crimes. The people of India did not help the victims of Kunan-Poshpora. No candlelight vigil was held for Asiya and Neelofar, even then we were living in an era of feminism. Nobody came in support of Tufail Mattoo’s father or Sameer Rah’s father. Having witnessed this persistent pattern of violence that we have endured as a people, the recent support of Indian public for the minor girl is not welcome. The Bollywood Kings and other celebrities have no moral right to talk about the Kathua girl. Javed Akhtar told us about selective justice saying because Bakerwals gave information to Army, they deserved justice. What a shame! You are a dead soul Javid, beautiful through your poetry only. It’s objected because nobody could save the poor girl. It’s objected because you allowed this to happen for ages. The banners displaying are of no use now because she is already dead. What does justice mean to her mother? Can anybody bring her back to her parents? Even if her killers are raped and killed in retaliation or killed a hundred times, is justice served? The victims of Kunan-Poshpora just put it right: ‘Had State acted on Kunan-Poshpora, Kathua wouldn’t have happened’.

Tailpiece: When the beef ban was imposed in J&K in 2015, I wrote a piece for this very newspaper on the issue and in one of the emails from Jammu, a Muslim boy had written to me of the aspirations of the Muslims of Jammu with Kashmir’s politics. Even when they had to vote, he said hopelessly, they would vote for Kashmir-based political parties. Jammu Massacre and Jammu rape and murder, and everything in the middle – state complicity and organization look apparent.Will they continue to remain a frightened minority? Sheikh Abdullah failed them in 1947; will Mehbooba Mufti fail them today?