If someone were to look deeply into the eventful,
though disconcerting, developments of the past twenty years in Kashmir, purely
from a mundane angle of ‘profit and loss’, it would make an interesting study
and a revealing one too.
Even for an average Kashmiri who has been through
and suffered or benefited, from these developments, there is enough to recollect
by way of his experiences, far more painful than comforting.
The rise of militancy and violence in the early
1990s which had instantly planted the dreams of ‘azadi’ in the eyes of the
people is a thing of the past. The dream has so far been and still continues to
be in doldrums, with hardly any hope of its realization in its original or
modified forms in the foreseeable or distant future. This could be counted as
the major loss for the protagonists of ‘azadi’.
On the ‘profit’ side, however, the picture is not
bleak at all. In fact it is very rosy for large sections of Kashmiri society.
Haven’t we seen, during these past two decades, the emergence of lakhpatis and
crorepatis in plenty, with many arabpatis in the making? The gun has liberally
sprayed its blessings through bullets on all those who used it, not for the
‘liberation struggle’, but for their pelf and power, prosperity, pleasures and a
merrier life. The power of gun has created a neo-rich class in Kashmir whose affluence has been
manifesting itself in many ways, including a spectacular spate of building
activity, especially in urban areas.
We now have an affluent class of politicians too,
many of them masters of millions. How and why, need no answer because what is
visible to the naked eye is self-explanatory. After all the paradise on earth is
now also the receptacle of lucre from sources galore. No wonder the perpetuation
of militancy and uncertainty has become a vested interest with many sections of
We Kashmiris have a weird knack of turning crisis
situations, such as natural calamities like floods, earthquakes, droughts and of
course man-made militancy, into opportunities for making a fast buck the easy
way. Over the past twenty years, the smarter among us have fully put their knack
into use to freely fish in troubled waters of Kashmir. Their ‘achievements’ are
there for anyone to see and that is why they want the troubled waters to be
always in high tide.
When talking of ‘profit and loss’ to the fellow
displaced Kashmiri Pandits (KP) in Jammu or elsewhere in the country, one often
comes across pithy and expressive comments like, for instance, ‘India may or may
not lose Kashmir, but the KP has lost it.’
Judging by the sufferings of the KP community,
beginning with their displacement and exodus, there appears to be quite some
truth in their fears. Having left the valley, they instantly lost their habitat,
their social, cultural and pluralistic milieu, their centuries-old roots of
belongingness to their land of ancestors and their fundamental right of living
freely and honourably in their own homes in own land of birth. Meanwhile during
the endless years of their exile, the KPs have lost almost everything they had
left behind, except the throwaway returns some of them got for parting with
their properties. These deals are now acknowledged as ‘distress sales’ and
efforts are being made to get their annualled by the government.
Lately the most talked about ‘loss’ is that of
religious shrines and the landed properties of these shrines. The situation
indeed is worrying as reports of large scale encroachments, illegal occupations
and clandestine, unauthorised and illegal sales, continues to pour in. The
situation is further aggravated by the government’s inability or more aptly,
apathy is correcting and preventing the widely practised wrongs. There is a bill
before the state legislature now for the protection of the religious properties
of Kashmiri Hindus awaiting its enactment as a law. But the government appears
to be doing calculated heel-dragging in the matter.
As if to certify the veracity of the disturbing
situation about religious properties, my journalist colleague and fellow
Safapurwala, Ashok Pehelwan, asked me one day recently, in an asitated voice,
“Could you believe that a plot of land, with a temple standing in its midst, has
”No, I can’t,” I shot back, “how can it happen? No
doubt we hear of encroachments, forced occupation, vandalisation and the like,
but how could there be a disappearance?”
Safapur is a largely-spread village, on the banks
of Mansbal lake, with Kolpur as one of its extended localities, a mini village
In early 1980s, Tarawati, the redoubtable and
popular Mokdambai (headwoman) of Kolpur, took the initiative for building a
temple in the village. The search for a piece of land started in right earnest
with the spontaneous cooperation of Muslim members of the village community.
Finally it was decided that the government would be approached for a plot of
land on the lakeside of Kolpur. Accordingly a mixed delegation, headed by
Tarawati, met the revenue authorities at the then tehsil headquarters at Sumbal.
The revenue officials were deeply moved by the enthusiasm of the mixed
delegation and the tehsildar sanctioned a plot measuring nearly two kanals of
land for building a temple.
Again, with the collective efforts of the
villagers, it did not take long for the temple to come up. Yet again the youths
of the village joined hands to retrieve an imposing and tall lingam of Lord
Shiva transported it to Kolpur and installed it in the temple. The lingam had
been pushed into the river Jhelum by marauding tribal invaders from Pakistan, in
1947, at village Asham, four kilometres away from Safapur, after removing it
from a place of worship of Rajput Dogra orchardists in the village.
Ashok Pehelwan told me that a few weeks
back two Muslim neighbour from Kolpur had come to Jammu and they informed him that a
fire brigade station was coming up close to the temple, which was in a bad
shape, with its boundary wall having completely collapsed, and the temple partly
vandalised. They also urged him to ensure that, to beging with, the boundary
wall of the temple is reconstructed so as to protect the temple area from any
encroachment. The internal repairs, the two men suggested, could follow later.
Ashok acted promptly, got in touch with fellow KPs of Kolpur Safapur, now living
at different places. They raised funds for the repairs at the temple and decided
to start work without any delay.
The next step
naturally was to get the details of the land area of the temple from the
concerned revenue authorities. It was then that the disappearing trick came to
light. The concerned Patwari of the area informed them that in the revenue
records nothing like a temple or any land under it existed, and therefore he
could not provide them with any details, for a non-existent structure.
Where have the temple and its land disappeared, inspite of standing where they
are? They do not exist simply because the revenue records are sacrosanct, and
therefore no temple nor its land exist at Kolpur. Now go and find the answer for