……… which I have not been able to realise yet!
I am Kashmir. I have a written history of more than five thousand years. Several historians have chronicled my plight over the centuries and written marvellous histories. Kalhana’s, Rājataraṃgiṇī, meaning “The river of Kings” is one of the finest chronicles that had documented me, my people and my earlier Royals in a more eloquent way. Some distant travellers visiting the subcontinent have mentioned about my beauty, my treasure of knowledge and rich culture. However, I have been robbed, plundered and devastated many a time and my people treated as slaves by several tyrannical rulers. I have survived much of onslaught from outsiders and faced many conspiracies evolving out of my own womb. No more speculations please. You may have got it? I am Kashmir—once land of prosperity under the rulers like Zain-ul-Abidin and now a land of gloom, despair and destruction. Like every beautiful creation of Almighty, I too had a dream—a dream to live a prosperous and peaceful life; provide a loving space to my people within my bosom with motherly affection.
Without revisiting the annals of history hopelessly, I find it suitable to mention of 14th century golden period of more than fifty years rule of Sultan Ghiyas-ud-Din Zain-ul-Abidin, affectionately known to me and my people as Bud Shah (the Great King): later the cruelty of Mughals, Pathans, Sikhs and of late tyrannical rule of Dogras open up the layers of callousness inflicted on me. In 1947 when much of the subcontinent got freed from the clutches of dictatorship, I too as a young, blooming and empowered nation got tied in an emotional knot of freedom with my people’s leader Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah then fondly known as Sher-i-Kashmir by all of us. As our absolute leader, he decided our fate against the tide. However I along with my people did not utter a single word against his decision and reposed complete trust in him. But, Alas! This honeymoon did not last long and in the summer of 1953 he was unceremoniously removed from my life, proving his wisdom of going against tide not only wrong but fatal. And from then onwards I am being thrown like a whore from one political system to other. For last more than six decades they have been taking turns to have me and my people. Unfortunately, in this dirty game of politics and power my earlier paramour—late Sher-i-Kashmir and his progeny tormented me much more than others. And, now to share us, politicians have resorted to novel idea of alliances and coalitions. Even after being subjected to all this hardships, I am proud to be known as Kashmir and I along with my people nurture a dream—dream to live an honourable and peaceful life! I am torn, haunted and my people face extreme corruption, nepotism and political extremism: my sons are burnt alive and my daughters widowed and I am unable to mourn. This is the saddest part of my long history.
In 1947, when Sheikh and I were enjoying political and emotional nationalist wedlock, we started a new life of freedom. He promised me and my people complete empowerment, peace and prosperity. I felt being on cloud nine with a hope for better future for my people. But, as I said his wisdom and his friends failed him in the hour of crisis and he was made to pay for the downfall of Dogra rulers and his reluctance in sharing me with Indian political class. I don’t know whether my Sher took his decisions consciously or inadvertently and whether or not his decision was right or wrong, but my experience proved that my fate both for me and my people as young beautiful upcoming self-determining nation would have been more comfortable independently than any other offered options. As a faithful companion at the most crucial stage of my existence in 1947, I don’t blame Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, because he too became victim of political maneuvering. But his decision to denigrate me as a political entity was reprehensible. Over a period of time many new entrants in politics tried to contest for my cause, but, alas, at one or the other stage they too joined hands with my tormentors clandestinely. I am facing all this for the last sixty years and more severely for the last more than two decades. I feel ashamed of this conduct, but I am Kashmir, full of patience and I too had a dream that got scattered because of my own people!