So, the Jammu and Kashmir legislative assembly passed a resolution on Tuesday asking the government to declare the birth anniversary of the last Dogra autocrat, Maharaja Hari Singh, an official holiday! Since when did ‘democracies’ start celebrating autocrats who have left behind a long history of untold tyranny that subjected people of his kingdom to extremes of misery? The history of Dogra rule is one of a Hindu State ruling over a Muslim majority whose basic rights it had taken away. The subjects of the Dogra autocrat didn’t have any rights, only a duty towards the state, that of paying backbreaking taxes to earn the right to stay alive. Forced labour for the State, or ‘begaar’ was just one of the Dogra autocracy’s legacies!
When India was fighting the British colonialist rule Kashmiris had risen up against the Dogra raj, whose foundations were laid by making an entire nation slaves after the British sold Kashmir and its people to the founding Dogra king for a pittance. During the very first organized protest against the tyranny of the Dogra autocrat, Hari Singh on 13 July, 1931 saw his forces gun down 22 Kashmiri Muslim residents. The same government that is asked to declare the autocrat’s birthday an official holiday observes the day of the massacre by his forces as official Martyrs’ Day! Politics of irreconcilability this!
The latest development inside the legislative house brings into question the very nature of alliance between the PDP and the Hindu nationalist BJP, and the nature of the relationship the ruling party in New Delhi imagines with Kashmir; one that seeks to cement a colonial and tyrannical attitude towards the people of Jammu and Kashmir. At yet another level it also calls into question what the so-called mainstream parties (PDP and NC included), who swear by the Constitution of India, actually represent: the people of the state or the interests of the ruling regime of the day in New Delhi.
The resolution also makes a point most emphatically. That the Hindu nationalists’ outlook for Kashmir and its approach to resolving the dispute over it is no more limited to rhetorical statements but has now entered the realm of state institutional structures. And, there is no stopping it. All this happens under the watch of the NC, whose founders fought the Dogra autocracy to ‘liberate’ the people of Kashmir from its tyrannies, and with the active participation of the PDP, a party that until recently used to gloat about its by now hollowed out idea of ‘self-rule’. The resolution goes expressly against all the claims made so far by these parties about what they stand for, or represent.