By Naseer A Ganai
Before historian Ramchandra Guha started his talk in his first ever visit to Kashmir at a local newspaper, Rising Kashmir, office in
a moderator had a word of caution: Please don’t ask anything about Kashmir. Guha insisted that he could be asked questions
about anything except Kashmir as, he said, he was not an expert on Kashmir.
Subsequently, in response to a question about criticism of Indian intellectuals by Perry Anderson in his book ‘The Indian Ideology’, Guha described it as a “dishonest book by a bitter old man.” “I can explain point by point why it is dishonest. I have written in my book 60 pages on Naga insurgency, which are not sympathetic to Indian government and same is the case of
Castigating Anderson for never having visited India and describing his knowledge “abysmal” and his approach “colonial”, Guha questioned, “His book (The Indian Ideology) is based on five or six books including mine, but how does he use it?... I have described
India in my book ‘ after
Gandhi’ a 50-50 democracy. How can he accuse me of being an apologist?” India
Since Guha was in Kashmir for the first time and once you are in Kashmir, and especially when you’re a respected Indian intellectual, you cannot avoid questions about Kashmir, and it doesn’t matter whether you start with a disclaimer that questions about Kashmir should not be asked for “I am not an expert on
Kashmir questions and he answered them
as well. “ India has a case
on Kashmir and so does ,”
Guha said. Talking about one of his interviews about Kashmir, and how a
Pakistan-based newspaper misquoted him, Guha said, “Actually I had said India’s
case on Kashmir is not constitutionally foolproof, Pakistan’s case on Kashmir
is not foolproof; it (Kashmir) is a genuine dispute, there is genuine conflict
where both sides have a case, but I was quoted in the headline itself which
read ‘Indian historian says India’s case on Kashmir is not foolproof’.” Pakistan
There is nothing wrong the way the headline of Pakistani newspaper as Goha did say
India’s case on Kashmir
is not foolproof. It is inexplicable to understand why Goha objects to the
headline because he did say that India’s
case on Kashmir is not constitutionally
foolproof. It seems Pakistani newspaper should have used headline “Indian
historian says India and Pakistan’s case on Kashmir is not
constitutionally foolproof” to keep Kashmir
discourse perfectly balanced.
In contrast, Perry Anderson doesn’t use weighing machine to balance his idea of history. He has a clear take on Kashmir issue as he talks of it being under the “longest military occupation in the world” with a “far higher ratio of repression than in
Palestine or ”. Tibet
Owing to the statements of most liberal intellectuals who want to balance that “India’s case on Kashmir is not constitutionally foolproof” must have “Pakistan’s case on Kashmir is not foolproof on its side” no one in Kashmir is interested to know what Indian intellectuals, barring few, have to speak about Kashmir.
Liberal Indian intellectuals don’t take position on Kashmir while as right wing historians trace linkage of Kashmir with
by quoting ancient Hindu
scriptures. Such is the disinterest regarding Indian intellectuals that even
when they talk about human rights abuses in India Kashmir,
they are not even trusted. It is because they have over the years devoted their
energies to balance even the discourse on human rights violation in Kashmir by comparing disproportionate violence of the
state with that of violence of non-state actors.
Over the years everything has been perfectly balanced by them. “What do you mean by Azadi?” Whose Azadi? “Don’t you have Azadi?” they would ask when whole
on streets in 2008 and 2010. “Don’t you participate in the elections? Is it not
election a sign of Azadi?”
Now if you pose a counter ask why not elections held under British Raj were construed as sign of Azadi, they say don’t draw comparisons. Had such interrogative questions come from the state, they would have been justified but it’s surprising when they come from ‘neutral’ observers and academics at a time when 112 boys as young as 12 year olds were killed in street of
Some intellectuals describe elections in Kashmir as some kind of a miracle as if elections are only unique to
Kashmiris are voting, they would say, and it is a vote for . The very
participation of Kashmiris in elections, they would argue, is ample proof that
there is no issue in India Kashmir and it is settled
for ever. If you counter them and say if you are so sure of elections, why not
to try a plebiscite, they would accuse of sacrilege.
Some would go a step further and write books after books on Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah’s arrest in 1953 arguing that Jawaharlal Nehru had nothing to do with it, that it was all local politics and Nehru was hurt the way Sheikh Abdullah was treated for 23 years.
breaks all this mythology paraded as history and that is why it hurts Indian
intellectual most. And that is why Anderson
turns into bitter old man for Indian intellectuals. Anderson
Kashmir believe that there is complete harmony in the
arguments of Indian intellectuals and that of State-run institutions. Only the
language of intellectuals is much more sophisticated.
No doubt Guha in his talk didn’t reduce
Kashmir to a
footnote in spite of the declaimer at the beginning. He didn’t hesitate to
describe Kashmir as a “genuine dispute”. He
explained it at length. But putting a disclaimer indicates there is reluctance
to talk about the subject which brings forth uncomfortable questions. This
reluctance is referred as silence of Indian Intellectual by . Anderson
Moreover, if Guha can write page after page in his book ‘India after Gandhi’ on Kashmir without visiting Kashmir, why should he deny the same privilege to Anderson and accuse him of ‘not visiting India’ and then writing a book on India?