FROM MAULANA’S DESK
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, born in 1925, in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh, is an Islamic spiritual scholar who is well-versed in both classical Islamic learning and modern disciplines. The mission of his life has been the establishment of worldwide peace. He has received the Padma Bhushan, the Demiurgus Peace International Award and Sayyidina Imam Al Hassan Peace award for promoting peace in Muslim societies. He has been called ’Islam’s spiritual ambassador to the world’ and is recognized as one of its most influential Muslims . His books have been translated into sixteen languages and are part of university curricula in six countries. He is the founder of the Centre for Peace and Spirituality based in New Delhi.
A NEW AGE DAWNS OVER KASHMIR
ON September 10, 2014, The Times of India carried a frontpage report titled: “In Kashmir, ‘occupation force’ hailed as saviour." The report said that from being perceived by many in the Kashmir valley as an “occupation force” in the 1990s, the Army is now seen as a “humanitarian agency”. The Army has certainly come a long way in this militancy-hit state, having rescued upwards of 100,000 people.
A crisis reveals a person’s friends and enemies.
To my surprise, the same morning I received a much-awaited call from our Kashmir team member who told the same story. He affirmed that after the great havoc wreaked by the floods, normalcy was slowly being restored. He attributed this entirely to the efforts of the Indian Army, and said that there was a new thinking emerging among the people of Kashmir about the armed forces. In his own words, he said: “Jis army ko hamne patthar mara tha, wahi aaj apne kandhon par utha kar logon ko flood se bacha rahe hain.” (The same army which was pelted with stones is now rescuing people from the flood on their shoulders).
Sometimes blessings come in disguise. The recent flood crisis in Kashmir is an example of this old saying. The whole state of Jammu and Kashmir was almost under water. A massive rescue and relief operation by the Indian armed forces is on in the state. It was this same Indian Army which was subjected to stone-throwing that is now dropping food packets, saving the lives of people and extending all possible help.
For a very long time, Kashmir had been a symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity. A large number of Hindus used to visit the Sufi shrines in Kashmir. There was an ideal relationship between the Hindu Pandits’ and the Muslim Kashmiris. In the whole state of Jammu and Kashmir, Hindus and Muslims lived with brotherly relations and cooperated with each other in every field. Kashmir was in an ideal state of communal harmony. There was absolutely no problem between the Kashmiris and the Hindus.
Perceived by many in the Kashmir valley as an “occupation force” in the 1990s, the Indian Army is now seen as a “humanitarian agency”.
But, due to misguidance from rabble-rousers, the Kashmiri people temporarily became negative towards India. This kind of negativity was totally against the spirit of Kashmir.
Now, nature, through this calamity and the help provided by India, is giving a strong message to Kashmiris: ‘See the realities and change your mindset.’ This “change” is not merely a change—it is a return to their own past.
Under the influence of their so-called leaders, Kashmiris had become negative towards India. However, India is the only country which has rushed to their rescue. A crisis reveals a person’s friends and enemies. This calamity has clearly shown that the Indian Army is a true friend and well-wisher of the Kashmiri people. This was a new experience in the recent history of Kashmir. According to my assessment, it was a message from nature. Nature is telling them: ‘Discover your real friends.’
The fact remains that, after Independence, there was a great chance for Kashmiris to develop and build a great future for themselves. But, because of misguidance from some leaders, they were living in a state of indecisiveness. In this natural calamity there is a lesson to the Kashmiri people: ‘Decide your future without delay, so that your journey towards the future continues without any hurdles and your youth can avail of all modern opportunities.’
This event should remove any kind of suspicion and indecisiveness from the minds of the Kashmiris. After 1947, India had been continuously providing support to Kashmir. But due to their negative mindset induced by their so-called leaders, Kashmiris were not in a position to properly utilize India’s help and were instead engaged in activities against India such as demonstrations, protests, boycotts and shutdowns.
Now, the time has come to make a U-turn and put a complete stop to these activities, so that they can fully utilize the support provided by India and develop in the same way that other Indian states are developing. A developed state will open up opportunities for the Kashmiri youth to have an education and take up jobs in their home state instead of going to other states.
Now, the time has come to make a U-turn and abandon their separatist tendencies, so that they can fully utilize the support provided by India and develop in the same way that other Indian states are developing.
In the neighbouring state of Punjab, there emerged a separatist movement in the early 1970s, which is a good example for the Kashmiris. The Punjabis very soon discovered that separation from India was not good for them, so they abandoned this movement. Now, everyone knows that Punjab is a very developed state of India. Kashmiris must take a lesson from this and completely abandon their separatist tendencies, in order that they may develop themselves on the same lines and avail of the enormous potential that exists in their state.
Kashmiris must read the writing on the wall. They must accept the realities. They have lost their first chance, now they cannot afford to lose the second chance. Kashmiris must take a decision before they are told that it is too late.
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan