Srinagar: Human rights lawyer, teacher, activist and writer Nandita Haksar said on Monday that for arriving at any solution to the Kashmir dispute, it was important to study the role played by “imperialist powers”, especially their role in “promoting radical Islam”.
In their fight against India, Kashmiris ought to see how the “common enemy”, the “imperialist powers” acted at various stages in the history, Haksar said on the release of her book, The Many Faces of Kashmiri Nationalism: From the Cold War to the Present Day, which was released at a function at a hotel here.
She quoted a passage from Afzal Guru’s letter—her defence of the accused in the attack led to the release of SAR Geelani, Showkat Guru and Navjot Sandhu—in which he had blamed much of the world strife on the US.
She said it was necessary to look at what has created the gap between “Kashmir and India, Hindus and Muslims, Kashmir and Jammu and India and Pakistan”.
She said the book is in essence a “search for a politics which will unite people and which made it possible for Indians like me to get together in seeking justice for Afzal and made the release of SAR Geelani possible”.
One such politics, she said, tried to emerge in the state in the form of trade unionism, as practiced by trade union leaders like Sampat Prakash, which brought together people from various regions and faiths, and was not the “stooge of ISI and New Delhi”.
“How could I support Kashmiri nationalism if I didn’t believe in my own…In the letter Afzal wrote to me and which I have published in the book, he said, ‘I understand your nationalism but I don’t understand Modi’s nationalism’. This gave me an idea let me understand various nationalisms,” Haksar said, while critiquing the “state-sponsored Sufism” and other such projects.
The book, released by noted lawyer ND Pancholi who also represented Afzal, attempts to trace the trajectory of Kashmiri nationalism through the accounts of Sampat’s life and activism and Afzal Guru’s case.
A panel comprising columnists ZG Mohammad, Abdul Majid Zargar, Dr Altaf and Dr Javaid Iqbal discussed the book after the release.
Dr Altaf, who left the discussion midway because of frequent disruptions by the audience, traced the roots of Kashmiri nationalism to the resistance against the Mughal empire “even though the Mughals were Muslims”.
Zargar said the socialists and left-leaning activists destroyed the state’s residual autonomous character. He gave the example of former chief minister GM Sadiq, a “staunch socialist” who was instrumental in surrendering the sovereign character of the state. At the same time, he said the Indian socialists leaned onto their ideological fount, the Soviet Union, which vetoed all pro-Kashmir resolutions at the UN.
Zahid GM objected to making Sampat and Afzal as the representatives of Kashmiri nationalism. Echoing Zargar, he said how “some socialist leaders like Bedi, etc., were sent by (Jawaharlal) Nehru to make Kashmiri leadership inclined towards India”.
“When it comes to Kashmir, RSS and CPI(M) have played the same role,” he said.
Dr Iqbal said the Kashmiri struggle has remained the struggle of Kashmiri Muslims. He gave the example of how only five people from the minority community had joined Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah even when he converted Muslim Conference into National Conference.
“That is probably why he had would often use Hazrabal as the political platform,” he said.
Replying to the panelists, Haksar said she has critiqued the points raised by them in the book, especially the flawed understanding of “Kashmiriyat and government-sponsored Sufism”, adding her ethnicity as a descendant of Kashmiri Pandits should not come in the way of proper understanding of the book.