Historical Watershed

Historical Watershed

July 13, 1931 stands as the watershed, momentous event where and when Kashmiris’ political consciousness morphed into a political movement. Such is the import of the day that it is etched in the historical memory and consciousness of Kashmiris. To repeat, it is the crucible of Kashmiri political consciousness. While there was a context to 1931- the gradual but inexorable trend towards a rejection of the Dogra rule and autocratic practices of the Maharaja, and demand for expansive political rights- the climax was reached on the 13th of July, 1931 where over 20 Kashmiris were shot at and killed by the Maharaja’s forces Since then this day has a special resonance for Kashmir. The politics of Kashmir could be said to be forged on this day. Fast forward multiple decades and a supreme irony defines this momentous event. From a “mainstream” perspective, the dispensation that governs Jammu and Kashmir is an odd combination of the far right Bhartiya Janata Party(BJP) and the People’s Democratic Party(PDP). The PDP’s alliance partner , the BJP, neither attaches importance nor does it attach any significance to the 13th of July. In fact, by an act of commission, the BJP refuses to observe the occasion and does not visit the 13th of July martyrs’ graveyard. This act of commission reflects the strange nature of the alliance between the PDP and the BJP among other things. It also suggests that Jammu and Kashmir is moving along the spectrum of a two speed entity politically. The political configuration of Jammu is different from the political configuration of Kashmir and yet, by virtue of the alliance between the PDP and the BJP, attempts have been made at dissolution of these contrarieties and contradictions. The larger issue embedded in this development is that Jammu and Kashmir’s politics, from any perspective and spectrum rather inanimate. This cannot be salubrious for Jammu and Kashmir and its peoples. An entity that moves along a two speed spectrum lead to deeper estrangement between the components of the entity and perhaps even conflict. The disagreement over the 13th of July, 1931, symbolizes and reflects the estrangement. In the ultimate analysis, the conflict cannot be dissolved by a political combination that is as different as chalk and cheese. It can have ramifications and implications beyond the obvious. A consensus over the nature and import of 13th July, 1931 has to be a starting point for politics in Kashmir.

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