Why Kashmir is up in flames ?

29 08 2008

Source: Rediff.com

Colonel Dr Anil A Athale (retd)
August 29, 2008

As someone who has been active in resolving the Kashmir issue since 1990, recent events did not come as too much of a surprise. Many observers have commented that the situation is back to the days of 1989-1990. They are only partially right, on the surface it does appear so, but there are major differences. How the situation is similar and yet different is an important issue since the Indian response has to be based on sound analysis lest we repeat our past mistakes. Public memory is short but it is the job of analysts to remember the past and bring it to public notice.

Rollercoaster public opinion in the Kashmir valley

The first thing to understand about the people of the Kashmir valley is that their views are fickle and can see radical changes.

In 1947, in the wake of the tribal invasion led and masterminded by Pakistan, the valley welcomed the Indian Army [Images] with open arms. One of INPAD’s members, retired Lieutenant General Eric Vas remembers that the soldiers were showered with rose petals. It was thanks to Sheikh Abdullah’s secular leadership as well as the Sufi tradition that Kashmiris rejected the poisonous Muslim League propaganda. In 1965, when Pakistan repeated the 1947 feat and sent in infiltrators, there were very few takers for the idea of merger with Pakistan and the infiltration failed to achieve the goal of engendering an insurrection.

In 1975-1976, when Sheikh Abdullah was the chief minister, there was a widespread movement in Pakistan occupied Kashmir to march to Indian Kashmir — an exact opposite of the present Kashmiri slogan of ‘Chalo Muzaffarabad’.

On April 1, 1979, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was hanged by military dictator Zia-ul Haq. His hanging sparked off large-scale violence in the Kashmir valley. Those owing allegiance to the Jamaat-i-Islami, led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, were the main target of attack. Their houses were destroyed by firebombs. The provocation: The Jamaat had distributed sweets to celebrate Bhutto’s hanging. It was the Indian Army that rescued Geelani and his people.

On April 4, 1979, Kashmiris held a massive congregation in Hazratbal to thank Allah that they were a part of India and paraded a donkey with a placard that read ‘I am Zia-ul Haq’.

The flip side

Post-1947 support for India vanished in a few years. In the late 1950s when Nehru sent Haribhau Pataskar to gauge public opinion in the valley (in order to hold the referendum he had promised), Pataskar told him that the valley was all for joining Pakistan.

Sheikh Abdullah, who was elevated to the status of ‘Pir’ (holy man) by Kashmiris, fared no better. He died in 1982. Within seven years, his birth and death anniversary became occasions to burn his effigy. A police guard was placed to protect his grave from vandalism. He now became the ‘great betrayer’ from his erstwhile position of ‘Lion of Kashmir’.

Zia-ul Haq, the Pakistani dictator, saw a total reversal of fortunes. His bemedalled photographs began to adorn the homes of Kashmiris.

The late Hamid Dalwai, a Muslim reformist from Maharashtra, recounted his encounters in Kashmir that aptly sums up the reasons for Kashmiri flip-flop. He asked several people as to why they were unhappy in India. The answer given to him by one shikara owner was that they had everything going for them in India, “but after all, must we not care for the flag of Islam?”

Understanding the present crisis

The year 2008 till July was extraordinarily peaceful by Kashmir’s standards. Pakistan was so embroiled in its internal crisis that it had no time to devote to Kashmir.

The present crisis in Kashmir erupted when an innocuous transfer of land to build temporary facilities for Amarnath pilgrims was made an issue by politicians like Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah. The usual Srinagar [Images] protests by unemployed youth and crowds on hire so rattled the government that it revoked the land transfer. At that stage, a little firmness and explanation that the land was being given to a statutory body established by the state legislature and that too for temporary structures should have doused the fires in the valley. But with an eye on upcoming elections, the People’s Democratic Party and the National Conference jumped into the fray and made allegations about attempts being made to change Kashmir’s demography!

When the land order was revoked, the government thought that like countless other surrenders earlier, it will get away with this one too. In any case the prime minister was busy sewing up the nuclear deal with the US and the supreme leader of the ruling combine was enjoying the Beijing [Images] Olympics [Images] in the company of her family! Nobody had much time to devote such trifling matter as a major crisis in Jammu and Kashmir [Images].

The reaction in Jammu came as a surprise to one and all (including the ineffectual Bharatiya Janata Party which later tried to jump on the bandwagon). Frankly, the protests in Jammu had very little to do with the Amarnath land transfer issue. It was a spontaneous outburst of pent-up anger at the last 60 years of mollycoddling of the valley and discrimination towards the region. Other hilly states like Himachal Pradesh [Images] or Uttarakhand [Images] are marching ahead of J&K.

It is the obduracy of the valley — that sees demons in any and every attempt at economic development as ‘Indian imperialism’ — that has got the people of Jammu agitated.

The measure by former governor retired Lieutenant General S K Sinha to extend the Amarnath Yatra [Images] saw a bonanza in the shape of over 500,000 pilgrims making the arduous trek. Even at an average spending of Rs 2,000 per pilgrim, it meant over Rs 100 crore was pumped into the state’s economy, directly benefiting the common man. That this was opposed surely takes the cake, as the world over religious tourism is being encouraged.

To be continued…

Colonel Dr Anil Athale (retd) is the Chhatrapati Shivaji Fellow at the United Services Institution, Delhi [Images], and coordinator of the Pune-based Institute for Peace and Disarmament

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Dara shikoh A life sketch in brief

5 11 2007

Darashikoh:

Picture : Dara Shikoh Cured

Source: allaboutsikhs.com

Source from “A daydream By Khurram Ali Shafique. DAWN:
The Review, March 15-21, 2001″

Dara was born on 20 March, 1615. He was the eldest son of Prince Khurram (later Shahjehan), the heir apparent of the emperor Jehangir.

He was, however, about twelve years old when along with Aurangzeb (three years younger) he was sent as a hostage to his grandfather after the failure of Shahjehan’s revolt.

When Shahjehan took over the throne in 1628, he made no secret of his desire for Dara to inherit the throne from him.

he got married in 1637, he immediately developed an obsession for his wife that was to last till her death shortly before his own.

He was formally initiated in to Qadiriyya ?ufi silsila by Mulla Shah into the Qadiriyya silsila sometime in 1639 or 1640.

In 1640 he initiated formally into the Qadiri Order of Sufism, and the same year he came up with his first book, Sakinatul Auliya. It was a collection of biographical sketches of notable Muslim saints.

Dara’s intellectual pursuits took a steep turn upon his meeting Baba Lal Bairagi, a Hindu Gnostic. Dara has recorded his conversations with Baba Lal in a short book titled, Mukalama Bab Lal wa Dara Shikoh.

FAiled attempt invasion of Qandahar in 1655, where Shahjehan finally agreed to allow Dara to lead an army.

in 1657, Dara Shikoh came out with his greatest masterpiece: Sirr-e-Akbar (The great secret), a translation of the Upanishads into Persian. Completed in 1657 with the help of several pandits from Veranasi Dara Shikoh’s translation of Upanishads is usually regarded in high esteem by the scholars in that field. It is also suggested by some historians that the Persian translation of Upanishad probably made it most accessible to the Europeans of the time as they were more familiar with the Persian language than they were with Sanskrit.

In 1657, Dara Shikoh was 43, Shah Shuja 41, Aurangzeb 39 and Murad 33. All of them were governors of various provinces: Dara was the governor of Punjab, Murad of Gujarat, Aurangzeb of the Deccan and Shah Shuja of Bengal. Two of them emerged as clear frontrunners in the race: Dara Shikoh and Aurangzeb.

In 1658, Shahjehan fell ill and Dara took over as the acting emperor, just as was expected of him. Aurangzeb quickly made a coalition with Murad and defeated Dara Shikoh at the famous Battle of Samogarh.

Once, Dara Shikoh (the eldest son of emperor Shah Jahan), came to Guru Har Rai asking for help in the war of succession with his brother the Murderous Aurangzeb. The Guru had promised his grandfather to use the Sikh Cavalry only in defense. He, never the less,helped him to escape safely from the bloody hands of Aurangzeb’s armed forces by having his Sikh warriors hide all the ferry boats at the river crossing used by Dara Shikoh in his escape.

Two months after his coronation in June 1659, Aurangzeb enacted a speedy trial of Dara Shikoh where the judges declared him a heretic and the unfortunate prince was condemned to death in August 1659.

It is said that when Dara saw his executioners approaching him he declared that a prince must never die without putting up a brave fight. A kitchen knife was all he could lay his hands on, and he went ahead fighting the swords of his aggressors with this pitful weapon. He was eventually assassinated and it is said that the city of Delhi was shrouded in official mourning when the body of Dara Shikoh was displayed in its streets. He was later laid at rest, quite aptly, inside the premises of Humayun mausoleum.

the elder son of Emperor Shãhjahan( r. 1627-1658 AD.) fell ill. Inspite of the best efforts of Hakims. he could not be cured. The rare medicine needed for his ailment was nowhere available. Information reached the Royal Hakim that required medicine was available with Guru Har Râi (1630-1661 A.D.). He came personally to the Guru Sahib and requestcd for the medicine. Guru Sahib gave him the rare medicine required for the treatment and also sent a pearl which was to be ground into fine powder and taken with the medicine.





FACT has started the commissioning of the next project after "Shivaji" Dara Shikoh

31 10 2007

Fact exhibition: Darashikoh translating vedas elder brother of aurangazeb

FACT EXHIBITION: Prince DARA SHIKOH parded as prisoner his guilt trying to translate vedas into Pesian

This image is from the online gallery of the British Library
One might ask Why Dara now ? The answer lies in his tolerence and rather more than that the respect for other religions a sufi himself, there was and is no doubt the History of India would have been completely richer and wonderful if he was the Emperor. The world needs more him and the world shall know much more after this exhibition…. about the Sufi student and saint.

Dara Shikoh (with Mian Mir and Mulla Shah) c.a. 1635

FACT has started the commissioning of the next project after “Shivaji” Dara Shikoh. A small intro courtesy WIKIPEDIA

For a detailed and analysed history of Dara one can always visit Beyond ‘Hindu’ and ‘Muslim’ – Dara Shikoh’s Quest for Spiritual Unity by Yoginder Sikand

Or this nice piece Sarmad the Armenian and Dara Shikoh By Majid Sheikh

Dara Shikoh (1615–1659) was the eldest son of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal. His name is from Persian داراشكوه meaning “The possessor of Glory”. He was favoured as a successor by his father and his sister Jahanara Begum, but was defeated by his younger brother Aurangzeb in a bitter struggle for the Mughal throne.

Dara Shikoh was a gentle and pious Sufi intellectual, one of the greatest representatives of that uniquely Indian synthesis sometimes referred to as the “composite culture”. He was an erudite champion of mystical religious speculation (which made him a heretic in the eyes of his more orthodox brother and the coterie around him) and a poetic diviner of syncretic cultural interaction among people of all faiths. Historians have speculated how different India would have been had he prevailed over his less enlightened brother Aurangzeb. Dara was a follower of Lahore’s famous Qadiri Sufi saint Mian Mir, whom he was introduced to by Mullah Shah Badakhshi (Mian Mir’s spiritual disciple and successor). He devoted much effort towards finding a common mystical language between Islam and Hinduism. Towards this goal he translated the Upanishads from its original Sanskrit into Persian so it could be read by Muslim scholars. His translation is often called “Sirre Akbar” or The Greatest Mystery, where he states boldly, in the Introduction, his speculative hypothesis that the work referred to in the Qur’an as the “Kitab al-maknun” or the hidden book is none other than the Upanishads. His most famous work, Majma ul-Bahrain (“The Mingling of the Two Oceans”) was also devoted to finding the commonalities between Sufism and Hindu Monotheism.