Monday, April 19, 2010

The Last Kashmiri Beggar

Khandaaro! A voice would be recognized by every household in Kashmir some two decades ago. It was a voice of a beggar. Many beggars would come to our locality to collect alms.
They had all names. The residents would call one Koull, (dumb) as he was seldom entering into any conversation after raising the first cry of Khandaaro. Other was Safida. He was called Safida because his complexion was fair.
Other one was called Motta because he was fat. They knew the residents, by names. Even they knew the children of the area. The residents were also familiar with them.
If on due date Safida would not turn up, the residents would try to seek information about his well being from Koul or Motta, whosoever comes first. The concern of residents about them was genuine.
The beggars were part of Kashmiri culture, if I am not offending anyone. They were part of my childhood as well. I have seen them. Joked with them, teased them, and conversed with them except koull. They were part of us. Nay, they were us. There was no Us verses Them between Us. There was dignity in their begging. And I have not come across an incident where the beggars in those days were given long lecture about the wrongs of begging.
Safida, Motta, Koull however were aged and graceful too. Taking whatever was given to them gracefully. They would inquire about the well being of children, aged and move on.
But over the years Safida, Koull or Motta have been replaced by new breed of beggars. Most of them non-locals. I should say entry of non-local beggar in our house terrifies us. The wedge between them and Us is so deep as it is between India and Pakistan. They alms giver and taker are suspicious of each other. They are they. And we are us. It always Us verses Them. We want they should leave our home as quick as possible even though they seek alms in name of God.
The killing of Habibullah khan in the Handwara forest by the Army had shock for me. His age was 70 years. And he was beggar. The photo of hid body reminded me of all those faces of childhood who were part me. I don’t know fate of beggars of our locality. Perhaps they might have confronted same fate as that of Khan. Who knows?
Some three years ago there was protest in Abiguzar. The residents said Darwaish (ascetic) of the area was killed by the security forces in the den of night. The women shouted slogans. So did the men against the killing of the man who had harmed no one. And after protest they returned to their homes dejected and frustrated. They were even weeping. No one in the area knew from which part of Kashmir the Darwish had come. But over the years he had become part of the locality. He would sit on roadside, the women of the area would provide him food. The nights he would spend in mosque, on roadsides, and at times he would knock at the gate of any house, and the family would feel blessed that he has to be his host for night.

Like all ascetics, he was owned by the Mohallawalas.They lost him. So did the number of other localities. Over the years in the evening these ascetics were seen roaming in localities and in the morning their bodies were found. Like Habibullah Khan of Dewar Lolab valley.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The only woman among girls

Naseer A Ganai
Yesterday one of my friends forced me to watch that movie. I watched the movie in which she is lead actor. She was beautiful. No doubt about that. She was elegant. And graceful too. But above all she reminded me of good old days when girls were not heroines in Bollywood. They were all women.
But change has had to happen. Gone are days when apple and blackberry were just fruits. Change is must. But suddenly something happens which reminds us of our past. She is that trigger point. One look at her and she triggers all those memories of past heroines of the bollywood. The heroines, I should again say, were women then.
She had different look. Every time, in every scene, every frame of the movie, I found her different. I forgot the movie but not her. In Saree she looked more graceful. I was wondering whether she is heroine of 70s or of 2010. The fact is she is product of these sad times. Time at times surprises us. And She is that surprise.

In 2010 she takes you back to 60s, 70s and 80s of Hindi Cinema. There is nothing in Bollywood films that look like Hindi. Still it is called Hindi cinema. From songs to dialogues, it is all Urdu. I wonder why it is called Hindi Cinema. I have no clue.
But her conversation in the film reminded me of culture and civilization.
But on our civilization, Priyanka Chopra had a word. Last month after remaining here for seven days she returned to Delhi and said “I am back to civilization.” She was right.
Bollywood has never considered Kashmir as civilization and it never considered people of Kashmir as people. Film after film whether filmed in 70s, 80s or 2010 its approach towards Kashmir has remained that of colonial. Kashmiris have been projected as abject race always waiting for a tip from an outsider.

The portrayal has been such that one gets impression that Kashmir has no history and culture. Through Mehmdu (Mehmood), and then through Raja (Shashi Kapoor) in Jab Jab Phool Khilay Kashmiris have all along been portrayed as boatman ready to take alms from anyone. These are only few examples. There are scores. If Kashmiri is not boatman he is Tanga walla ready to do anything when ordered and guided.
Then in nineties, Kashmiri was projected as gun wielding misguided person following orders from “across the border.” All along it has been suggested that Kashmiri doesn't deserve the beauty of Kashmir. He is unworthy of it. He has no brains and he should remain subjugated always. Following orders.Hence no civilization.
Yar, where we have landed? We were discussing woman of bollywood and where from Kashmir crept into it? I was talking about She. Yes!

She reminds me of mischievous smile of Muduballa, tragic beauty Mena Kumari. Inhe zameen par mat utariyega, maile ho jayenge. She reminds of composure of Mena Kumari in Dil Apana Aur Preet Parayee. That of Suchitra Sen as Paro in Bimpal Roy's, Devdas. That of Rehkha. That of Nanda singing Yeh Sama Sama Hai Yeh Payar Ka. She reminds me of Wahida Rehman running after Guru Dutt in Kagaz Kay Phool.

Of graceful Sadna, of elegant Shirmila, of Zareena Wahab. They were all my favorites. But when I started growing up, I lost them. Lost them to Ashwariya, Shusmita, this Sen and that Sen. Of course there was not any Suchitra Sen among them. I lost them to new bollywood heroines. This Krishma, that Karina. This Rani and that Lara. Despite in their 30s they look like girls, than women. Only bones, no flesh.
But yesterday when I saw Vidya Balan acting in the movie, I realized that there is one woman among all these girls in Bollywood. And it is Vidya, the woman.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Of Shoaib Sania, and PR bill

Naseer A Ganai ‘
The Permanent Residence (Disqualification) Bill again generated heat with Congress and BJP workers masquerading women rights activists terming it anti-women. They argue how come a woman who marries to a non-State subject stops to be State subject. Her children too continue to be State subject.
The State subject law was enacted by the Maharaja in 1927 to stop the exploitation of the State and its resources from rich neighbors from Punjab and other states by buying property in the State and deprive the locals from the benefits of State subjects.
Interestingly, the notifications were ratified by the State Assembly in 1957. According to 1927 notifications a daughter of permanent resident was losing her State subject on marriage with a non-resident.
In October 2002 the full bench of the High Court in a case, State of Jammu and Kashmir versus Dr Sushila Sawhney said that a daughter for permanent resident of the State of Jammu and Kashmir will not lose status as permanent resident of the State of Jammu and Kashmir on marriage with a person, who is not permanent resident of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
However, Justice Muzaffer Jan had struck a discord note. He said “I agree with the view that of V.K Jhanji ( the then Chief Justice) only to the extent that a female non-permanent resident of the State on her marriage to the permanent resident of the State will have right to inherit the property in accordance with the personal law of the deceased (in the case). However, I don’t agree to ultimate conclusion that a female will not lose the status as a permanent-resident on her marriage with a non-permanent resident of the State.”
The state government went for appeal against the judgment in the Supreme Court. However, the PDP led government in 2004 withdrew the appeal and moved a bill in the legislative assembly.
The legislators of the State cutting across party lines passed the bill in two minutes. But soon after the passage of the bill ruckus was created as if the Assembly had passed right to cessation bill. The whole media, everybody who is no body spoke against it terming it as violation of women rights.
From Lakhanpore to Kaniyakumari they all spoke against the bill. And when the bill reached the Uppers House it had become national issue. In the Upper House a drama was enacted. The bill didn’t pass. The NC blamed PDP. And PDP blamed NC. The Present Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather was most vocal speaker. He accused PDP of backstabbing the State.
Muzaffer Baig gave eloquent speech both in Council and the Assembly. In the Assembly he defended the bill terming as normal domicile law and said it shouldn’t be construed us versus them. In the council poor Baig was defending weeping Council Chairman Rashid Dar whom NC was accusing of entering into conspiracy to defeat the bill.
After six years again, the bill was brought in the Upper House by PDP in March 2010. It again raised the tempers. The Government didn’t oppose knowing well the Legislative Council will drop it. After almost 15 days the chairman of the Legislative Council said it was constitutional bill and should be introduced in the Assembly. He dropped the bill. And with it the tempers of the BJP, Congress parties too cooled down.
But soon Sania Mirza shocked them by deciding to marry Shoiab of Pakistan. This time they were fuming against Sania. They ask that if she marries Pakistani, how come she will play for India. They say after marrying Pakistani she would be a Pakistani citizen and loses rights of Indian citizen.
"Henceforth, Sania will not remain an Indian. Had her heart been Indian, it wouldn't have beaten for a Pakistani. If she wished to play for India, she should have chosen an Indian life partner," he wrote Bal Thackary in editorial in Shiv Sena mouthpiece.
There were demonstrations in India, and Mirza's picture was burnt on the streets of Bhopal, where activists from the rightwing Hindu nationalist Vishwa Hindu Parishad party vowed to stop her competing at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi later in the year.
If it is true for Sania, can’t it be true for JK women who marry outside. Why these double standards.
True that number of Kashmiri women marrying outside the State is few. But the PR bill is not about the women rights it is about the political rights of the State. There are apprehensions of demographic change. The passage of the bill would have quelled the fear to some extent. There is impression that the State Assembly has no powers. The passage of the bill would have erased the impression to some extent.
But then it is Jammu and Kashmir State. Here yardsticks are different. Sania’s marriage to Shoiab doesn’t come under purview of women rights. It is different debate. But a daughter of permanent resident of State on marriage to a non-resident of the State becomes women rights issue. Why?
Who is the State subject?
There three definitions ate for State subjects under two notifications issued by Maharaja in 1927 on January 31 and April 20. The terms and subjects are:
First: “All persons born and residing within the State before the commencement of the reign of late Maharaja Gulab Singh and also the persons who settled therein before the commencement of Samvat year 1942 and have since been permanently residing therein.”
2nd: “All persons other than those belonging to Class I who settled within the state before the close of Samvat year 1968, and have since permanently resided and acquired immovable property therein.

3rd: All persons other than those belonging to Class I and II permanently residing within the State, who have acquired under a rayatnama any immovable property therein or who may hereafter acquire such property under an ijazatnama and may execute a rayatnama after ten years’ continuous residence therein.

This notification is to be read subject to the provision contained in Part III of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, section 6 of which is reproduced below:-

Permanent residents—(1) Every person who is, or deemed to be, a citizen of India under the provisions of the Constitution of India shall be a permanent resident of the State, if on the fourteenth day of May, 1954—

(a) He was a state subject of class I or of CLASS II ; or
( b) Having lawful acquired immovable property in the State, he has been ordinarily resident in the State for not less than ten years prior to that date.

(2) Any person who, before the fourteenth day of May, 1954 was a State Subject of Class I or of Class II and who having migrated after the first day of March 1947, to the territory now included in Pakistan, return to the State under a permit for resettlement in the State or for permanent return issued by or under the authority of any law made by the State Legislature shall on such return be a permanent resident of the State.

(3) In this section, the expression “ State Subject of class I or Class II” shall have the same meaning as in the State Notification No. 1-L/84 Dated 20th April, 1927, read with State Notification No. 13-L dated 27th June, 1932.