Converted Kashmir - Memorial of Mistakes
A Bitter Saga of Religious Conversion
Author: Narender Sehgal
Utpal Publications, 1994
It is a remarkable fact that, while the Security Council and its various agencies have devoted so much time to the study of the Kashmir dispute and made various suggestions for its resolution, none of them has tried to ascertain the views of the Indian Muslims nor the possible effect of any hasty step in Kashmir, however well-intentioned, on the interests and well- being of the Indian Muslims. We are convinced that no lasting solution for the problem can be found unless the position of Muslims in Indian society is clearly understood.
Supporters of the idea of Pakistan, before this subcontinent was partitioned, discouraged any attempt to define Pakistan clearly and did little to anticipate the conflicting problems which were bound to arise as a result of the advocacy of the two-nation theory. The concept of Pakistan, therefore, became an emotional slogan with little rationale content. It never occurred to the Muslim League or its leaders that if a minority was not prepared to live with a majority on the sub- continent, how could the majority be expected to tolerate the minority.
It is, therefore, small wonder that the result of partition has been disastrous to Muslims. In undivided India, their strength lay about 100 million. Partition split up the Muslim people, confining them to the three isolated regions. Thus, Muslims number 25 million in Western Pakistan, 35 million to 40 million in India, and the rest in Eastern Pakistan. A single undivided community has been broken into three fragments, each faced with its own problems.
Pakistan was not created on a religious basis. If it had been, our fate as well as the fate of other minorities would have been settled at that time. Nor would the division of the sub- continent for reasons of religion have left large minorities in India or Pakistan.
This merely illustrates what we have said above, that the concept of Pakistan was vague, obscure, and never clearly defined, nor its likely consequences foreseen by the Muslim League, even when some of these should have been obvious.
When the partition took place, Muslims in India were left in the lurch by the Muslim League and its leaders. Most of them departed to Pakistan and a few who stayed behind stayed long enough to wind up their affairs and dispose of their property. Those who went over to Pakistan left a large number of relations and friends behind.
Having brought about a division of the country, Pakistan leaders proclaimed that they would convert Pakistan into a land where people would live a life according to the tenets of Islam. This created nervousness and alarm among the minorities living in Pakistan. Not satisfied with this, Pakistan went further and announced again and again their determination to protect and safeguard the interests of Muslims in India. This naturally aroused suspicion amongst the Hindus against us and our loyalty to India was questioned.
Pakistan had made our position weaker by driving out Hindus from Western Pakistan in utter disregard of the consequences of such a policy to us and our welfare. A similar process is in question in Eastern Pakistan from which Hindus are coming over to India in a large and large number.
If the Hindus are not welcome in Pakistan, how can we, in all fairness, expect Muslims to be welcomed in India ? Such a policy must inevitably, as the past has already shown, result in the uprooting of Muslims in this country and their migration to Pakistan where, as it became clear last year, they are no longer welcome, lest their influx should destroy Pakistan's economy.
Neither some of the Muslims who did migrate to Pakistan after partition, and following the widespread bloodshed and conflict on both sides of the Indo-Pakistan border in the north- west, have been able to find a happy asylum in what they had been told would be their homeland. Consequently some of them have had to return to India, e.g Meos who are now being rehabilitated in their former areas.
If we are living honorably in India today, it is certainly not due to Pakistan which, if anything, has by her policy and action weakened our pooition.
The credit goes to the broadminded leadership of India, to Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, to the traditions of tolerance in this country and to the Constitution which ensures equal rights to all citizens of India, irrespective of their religion caste, creed, colour or sex.
We, therefore, feel that, tragically as Muslims were misled by the Muslim League and subsquently by Pakistan and the unnecessary suffering which we and our Hindu brethren have to go through in Pakistan and in India since partition, we must be given an opportunity to settle down to a life of tolerance and understanding to the mutual benefit of Hindus and Muslims in our country - if only Pakistan would let us do it. To us it is a matter of no smaller onsequence.
Despite continuous provocations, first from the Muslim League and since then from Pakistan, the Hindu majority in India has not thrown us or members of other minorities out of Civil Services, Armed Forces, the judiciary, trade, commerce, business and industry. There are Muslim Ministers in the Union and State cabinets, Muslim Governors, Muslim Ambassadors, representing India in foreign countries, fully enjoying the confidence of the Indian nation, Muslim members in Parliament and state legislatures, Muslim judges serving on the Supreme Court and High Courts, high-ranking officers in the Armed Foroes and the Civil services, including the police. Muslims have large landed estates, run big business and commercial houses in various parts of the country, notably in Bombay and Calcutta, have their shares in industrial production and enterprise in export and import trade. Our famous sacred shrines and places of cultural interest are mostly in India.
Not that our lot is certainly happy. We wish some of the state Governments showed a little greater sympathy to us in the field of education and employment. Nevertheless, we feel we have an honourable place in India. Under the law of the land, our religious and cultural life is protected and we shall share in the opportunities open to all citizens to ensure progress for the people of this country.
It is, therefore, clear that our interest and welfare do not coincide with Pakistan's conception of the welfare and interests of Muslims in Pakistan.
This is clear from Pakistan's attitude towards Kashmir. Pakistan claims Kashmir, first, on the ground of the majority of the State's people being Muslims and, secondly, on the ground, of the state being essential to its economy and defence. To achieve its objective it has been threatening to launch "Jehad" against Kashmir in India.
It is a strange commentary on political beliefs that the same Muslims of Pakistan who like the Muslims of Kashmir to join them invaded the state, in October 1947, killing and plundering Muslims in the state and dishonouring Muslim women, all in the interest of what they described as the liberation of Muslims of the State. In its oft-proclaimed anxiety to rescue the 3 million Muslims from what it describes as the tyranny of a handful of Hindus in the State, Pakistan evidently is prepared to sacrifice the interests of 40 million Muslims in India - a strange exhibition of concern for the welfare of fellow- Muslims. Our misguided brothers in Pakistan do not realise that if Muslims in Pakistan can wage a war against Hindus in Kashmir why should not Hindus, sooner or later, retaliate against Muslims in India.
Does Pakistan seriously think that it could give us any help if such an emergency arose or that we would deserve any help thanks to its own follies ? It is incapable of providing room and livelihood to the 40 million Muslims of India, should they migrate to Pakistan. Yet its policy and action, if not changed soon, may well produce the result which it dreads.
We are convinced that India will never attack our interests. First of all, it would be contrary to the spirit animating the political movement in this country. Secondly, it would be opposed to the Constitution and to the sincere leadership of the Prime Minister. Thirdly, India by committing such a folly would be playing straight into the hands of Pakistan.
We wish we were equally convinced of the soundness of Pakistan's policy. So completely oblivious is it of our present problems and of our future that it is willing to sell us into slavery - if only it can secure Kashmir.
It ignores the fact that Muslims in Kashmir may also have a point of view of their own, that there is a democratic movement with a democratic leadership in the State, both inspired by the progress of a broad minded, secular, democratic movement in India and both naturally being in sympathy with India. Otherwise, the Muslim raiders should have been welcomed with open arms by the Muslims of the State when the invasion took place in 1947.
Persistent propaganda about "Jehad" is intended, among other things, to inflame religious passions in this country. For it would, of course, be in Pakistan's interests to promote communal rioting in India to show to Kashmiri Muslims how they can find security only in Pakistan. Such a policy, however, can only bring untold misery and suffering to India and Pakistan generally and to Indian Muslims particularly.
Pakistan never tires of asserting that it is determined to protect the interests of Muslims in Kashmir and India. Why does not Pakistan express the same concern for Pathans who are fighting for Pakhtoonistan, an independent homeland of their own ? The freedom-loving Pathans under the leadership of Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan and Dr. Khan Sahib, both nurtured in the traditions of democratic tolerance of the Indian National Congress, are being subjected to political repression of the worst possible kind by their Muslim brethren in power in Pakistan and in the NWFP. Contradictory as Pakistan's policy generally is, it is no surprise to us that while it insists on a fair and impartial plebiscite in Kashmir, it denies a fair and impartial plebiscite to Pathans.
Pakistan's policy in general and her attitude towards Kashmir is particular thus tend to create conditions in this cauntry which in the long run can only bring to us Muslims widespread suffering and destruction. Its policy prevents us from settling down, from being honourable citizens of a State, free from suspicion of our fellow-countrymen and adapting ourselves to changing conditions to promote the interests and welfare of India. Its sabre-rattling interferes with its own economy and ours. It expects us to be layal to it despite its importance to give us any protection, believing at the same time that we can still claim all the rights of citizenship in a secular democracy.
In the event of a war, it is extremely doubtful whether it will be able to protect the Muslims of East Bengal who are completely cut off from Western Pakistan. Are the Muslims of India and Eastern Pakistan who sacrifice themselves completely to enable the 25 million Muslims in Western Pakistan to embark upon mad, self-destructive and adventures?
We should, therefore, like to impress upon you with all the emphasis at our command that Pakistan's policy towards Kashmir is fraught with the gravest peril to the 40 million Muslims of India. If the Security Council is really interested in peace human brotherhood, and international understanding, it should heed this warning while there is still time.
Dr. Zakir Hussain
(Vice Chancellor Aligarh University)
Sir Sultan Ahmed
(Former Member of Governor General's Executive Council)
Sir Mohd. Ahmed Syed Khan
(Nawab of Chhatari, former acting
Governor of United Provinces and
Prime Minister of Hyderabad)
Sir Mohd. Usman
(Former member of Governor
General's Executive council and
acting Governor of Madras)
Sir Iqbal Ahmed
(Former Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court)
Sir Fazal Rahimtoola
(Former Sheriff of Bombay)
Maulana Hafz-ur-Rehman M.P.
Col. B.H. Zaidi M.P.
Nawab Zain Yar Jung
(Minister Gcvernment of Hyderabad)
(Former President of Muslim Majlis)
(General Secretary West Bengal Bohra Community)