Agony of Dal Lake: Kashmir's Soul Under Pressure

Agony of Dal Lake: Kashmir's Soul Under Pressure

by Maharaj Kaul


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Agony of Dal Lake: Kashmir's Soul Under Pressure by Maharaj Kaul

Kashmir has been on the mind of Maharaj Kaul ever since the eruption of the civil war there in 1989, and it has been in his mind since his childhood, as he was born there. For him Kashmir is more than his birthplace, it is an irrigator of his consciousness.

The author of the books The Light Through The Woods: Dreams Of Survival Of Human Soul In The Age Of Technology and Inclinations And Reality: The Search For The Absolute published last year examines the ongoing civil war in Kashmir over the last two decades that has wounded both the Kashmiri Muslims and Pandits in the spheres of personal, economic, social, and political lives and it has rendered the latter into refugees in their own nation, exiled from their home of 5,000 years. Thousands of Kashmiris have died, a lot more wounded; but the end is not even in sight. The soul of Kashmir is under pressure.

The book explores the causes and history of Kashmir Problem and what its solution should be. It also celebrates some of its outstanding people and provides vignettes of some of its popular places, culture, life, and mystifying natural beauty.

It is both a mourning over the tragedy of Kashmir and a celebration of its spiritual essence.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781469735078
Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
Publication date: 02/11/2012
Pages: 280
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.59(d)

Read an Excerpt

Agony of Dal Lake

Kashmir's Soul under Pressure
By Maharaj Kaul

iUniverse, Inc.

Copyright © 2012 Maharaj Kaul
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4697-3507-8

Chapter One


Significant milestones of Kashmir Problem

A. Pakistan Attacks Kashmir In 1947

1. Maharaja Hari Singh, the ruler of Jammu And Kashmir State, which was one of the 566 princely states in the British India, did not make a decision on whether to join India or Pakistan, the two nations that were going to be instituted after the end of about 200 years of British rule in the Indian subcontinent, as was mandated by the mutually agreed upon plan formulated by the Indian National Congress, Muslim League, and the British government. He remained without a decision even after Pakistan and Indian gained independence on August 14 and 15, 1947 respectively.

2. Taking advantage of Maharaja's indecisiveness and India's lack of seriousness in integrating Kashmir with itself, Pakistan launched an attack on Kashmir on October 22, 1947, under the cover of a tribal uprising against Maharaja's mistreatment of Muslims.

B. Kashmir Accedes To India

1. Maharaja Hari Singh not having the military resources to combat Pakistan's attack on Kashmir, and enemy forces having reached within a few miles of his palace, compelled him to seek emergency help from the newly formed nation of India. Indian government advised by the governor general Lord Mountbatten agreed to help Kashmir on the condition that it integrate with India under the terms of the Instrument Of Accession, a legal contract formulated for the integration of the princely states by the Indian National Congress, Muslim League, and the British government. To the standard Instrument Of Accession contract was added a rider stipulating that when the conditions returned to normal in Kashmir, a plebiscite would be conducted to determine Kashmiri people's choice between India and Pakistan to integrate with. Maharaja signed the document on October 26, 1947 and Indian government sent its military to Kashmir to repulse the Pakistani invaders on October 27, 1947.

2. Maharaja made Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, the National Conference Leader, who had been fighting him since 1930 for the equal treatment and economic advancement of Muslims, the head of the emergency administration of Jammu And Kashmir on October 30, 1947. He was an ardent follower of Gandhi and Nehru and staunchly advocated Kashmir's integration with India. He was made prime minister of Jammu And Kashmir state on March 5, 1948.

C. India Lodges A Complaint With U.N. About Pakistan's Attack On Kashmir

1. After having pushed the Pakistani military from Jammu And Kashmir up to point which left about 35% of it with Pakistan, Indian government launched a complaint with U.N. on January 1, 1948 about Pakistan's unlawful attack on Kashmir, which was now a part of India. Indian government also requested U.N. to hold a plebiscite in Kashmir to determine its people's choice between India and Pakistan to integrate with. Pakistan opposed the plebiscite.

2. U.N. declared a ceasefire to the war, which both India and Pakistan accepted, which was put in effect on January 1, 1949.

3. U.N. Resolution 47, on April 21, 1948, declared that in order to hold a plebiscite in Kashmir Pakistan will have to vacate its forces and tribal people in the areas of Kashmir which it had captured in the war and bring back the people who used to live there before the war on both sides of the present boundary, in order for them to participate in the plebiscite. India was required to withdraw its forces from the areas of Kashmir which it now controlled, leaving only enough forces to take care of the law and order. Pakistan rejected the U.N. offer to hold the plebiscite because it believed that it would lose it, and therefore no plebiscite was held. In 1990 U.N. dropped the plebiscite from its position on the settlement of the Kashmir Problem.

4. Governor General Mountbatten and Indian government several times tried to talk Pakistan into the plebiscite but with no success, as Pakistan feared that it would lose it.

D. Sheikh Abdullah Changes His Mind And Wants To Make Kashmir An Independent Nation

1. Sheikh Abdullah slowly drifted into an old dream of his of having an independent Kashmir. In that direction he clandestinely met representatives of foreign governments and projected a distinct coolness toward India. On August 9, 1953 he was arrested and jailed for his unlawful activities. In 1954 Jammu and Kashmir legislature under the leadership of Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad, the prime minister who succeeded Sheikh Abdullah, voted unanimously for Kashmir's integration with India.

E. Pakistan Attacks Kashmir Again In 1965 and 1989

1. In April 1965 Pakistan attacked Kashmir but was effectively stopped by India, the war ending with a U.N. ceasefire.

2. In 1989 Pakistan again struck Kashmir. In the beginning of the war Kashmiri Muslims sympathized with and helped the Pakistanis. Almost all of the 400,000Kashmiri Pandits fled Kashmir and most of them ended up in the refugee camps in Jammu.

F. Present Situation

1. A British poll in 2010 indicated that only 2% of Kashmir Muslims wanted to join Pakistan. Majority of them wanted an independent Kashmir. Since President Musharaff rule Pakistan's rationale for having Kashmir integrate with it is that of Kashmir's Muslim plurality.

2. In all the elections since 1947 the majority of the voters in Kashmir have voted for pro-India political parties.

3. Many political parties in Kashmir continue to fight for Kashmir's independence but India's position continues to be that Kashmir has legally integrated with India in 1947 and 1954.

Eternity And Now

Self-inflicted Wounds In Kashmir

(September 28, 2011)

This article was written after my visit to Kashmir in August, 2011, after a gap of 11 years.

Eternity And Now

Self-inflicted wounds in Kashmir

It seems some places are destined to remain sorrowful, in spite of the best efforts of some of their people to make them otherwise. Kashmir is one of them.

Over thousands of years Kashmir has been a prey to the attackers from many foreign lands: Afghanistan, Mongolia, Turkey, Tibet. Sometimes I think that if Kashmir had not been as beautiful as it is, it would have had a more peaceful history than it has had, because its Shangri-La image has been an enormous attraction for the empire builders, adventurers, looters, and religious zealots. If Kashmir had been a place looking like any of the other states of India, Pakistan would not have vied for it with the same passion as it has. Kashmir's beauty turns it into a spiritual place, a clarion call for one's deepest religious or artistic sensibilities.

The majority of the local people of Kashmir started as Hindus, then changed to Buddhism, then reverted to Hinduism, and then changed to Islam. The history of Kashmir is tempered with extreme changes, long foreign occupations, extreme material lust, wanton killings, and religious persecution. A place pregnant with ethereal serenity and covered with enthralling beauty has been soaked with blood and hatred over many stretches of its history.

This contrast between Kashmir's natural and historical faces struck me with stunning intensity during my recent three-week trip there. The Kashmir of nature is still awesomely inspiring but the Kashmir of history is a wounded being, struggling to come back to life.

Dal Lake, a tapestry of tranquility and gracefulness, charisma and style, is both sensually intoxicating as well as spiritually tranquilizing. Its mystery and mystique transcends common understanding. It stands adjoining the other Kashmir, Old Srinagar, where a large number of people live. I visited its decrepit, mean streets, its rickety morose houses, punctuated sometimes with new houses, its abandoned crumbling Pandit houses. The creased faces of the people of Old Srinagar are etched with a million memories. They remember the revolution against the unfair Dogra rule, they remember repulsing the Pakistan government backed tribal attack of October, 1947. The promise of Naya Kashmir burned bright at that time. It was the first time in thousands of years that the political power in Kashmir was in the hands of its people. A new star appeared in the firmament of Kashmir, it was in the form of a tall, lean, and strong-minded Kashmiri leader named Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, popularly known as Sher-i-Kashmir. In 1931, this born-leader challenged the might of the Dogra king Hari Singh, for equal opportunity for the majority of the state population, Muslims, with Dogras and Pandits. He also challenged the absolute monarch to change his government to a "responsible" government, which looked after the welfare of all the people and the integrity of the state. But his biggest war front was for the fair treatment of the landless peasants, the majority of whom were Muslims. His revolution in Kashmir ran parallel with the ongoing revolution for the freedom of India from Britain, spearheaded by Indian National Congress. He was mesmerized by its leaders Gandhi and Nehru. When the partition of India became a plan, he chose India to be Kashmir's partner, rather than Pakistan. He rejected Pakistan, on the basis that it was going to be a religious state, with not much care for the landless peasants, much to the bitterness and disappointment of its leader, Jinnah. His people unequivocally supported him in this.

A few years later the dream of Naya Kashmir started to unravel, as its chief architect, Sher-i-Kashmir, started to have another dream, that of an independent nation of Kashmir. Arrested on Aug. 9, 1953, due to his malfeasance, Sher-i-Kashmir's fall plunged Kashmiris into a new sorrow, so deep and intense that its shadows still haunt the people, even after its occurrence 58 years ago. Sher-i-Kashmir's dream of an independent nation of Kashmir was the greatest self-inflicted wound for Kashmiris. Even though, after regaining political power in 1975, after spending 13 years in Indian jails, he abandoned his dream, but the shadow of mistrust, engendered by his break-up with his commitment to Gandhi and Nehru, between Kashmiri Muslims and Government Of India, has remained a dark and impregnable cloud on the horizon.

Kashmiri history is replete with self-inflicted wounds. We let many foreign invaders in Kashmir, many without even a token resistance. Granted that in those times it fell to the ruling monarchs to defend the land, but the equanimity with which Kashmiris accepted the foreigners is deeply troubling. When Rinchin usurped the throne of Kashmir, the reigning monarch Sahadeva was hiding in Kisthawar, having given the responsibility of the defense of the throne to his commander-in-chief Rama Chandra.

After the end of thousands of years of rule by kings, sultans, and governors, many of whom were cruel, barbarous, cut-throat opportunists, plunderers, good-for–nothing rascals, racists, and nincompoops, we stumbled upon the incredible opportunity of democracy in Kashmir, helped by the Indian freedom movement against the British, in which the role of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah was that of the chief architect. Naya Kashmir was the answered prayers, liberation from thousands of years of tyranny and slavery. What did Kashmiris do with it? They ruined it by the lack of scruples, greed, and blindness.

Within five years after Kashmir gained democracy, its chief architect started dreaming of an independent nation of Kashmir, whose feasibility he well knew was impossible. If the leader lost his brains, why did the masses have to lose them too? Kashmiri Muslims were also lured into the Lotus-eaters mood of freedom. What happened after that? Kashmir's relations with India soured badly. Who suffered the more in the test of the wills; of course, the Kashmiri Muslims?

In 60s and 70s Kashmir let itself be swept with the Islamic fundamentalism. Whatever happened to the famous Kashmiri sense of survival? Leaving survival far away, Kashmiris plunged into a suicide, they became contemptuous of India. Pakistan's attack on Kashmir in 1965 removed any illusions of the continuation of the 1947 status-quo between it and India. If Pakistan was really keen to have Kashmir, why did it not go for an all-out war for it, and extricated it from the greedy clutches of India? Pakistan was not willing to go that far, as it did not want to hurt itself that much. But why did not Kashmiris see the selfish and weak will of its suitor?

Kashmiris let themselves be drifted aimlessly, without embracing Pakistan fully, or without rejecting India fully. Can a people survive decently in such a double-handed game? Kashmiris have let themselves be humiliated, used, and mistreated by Pakistan. What happened to Kashmiris' honor and pride? Kashmiris lost their touch with the ground, floating in fantasy and fear.

In 1989 war with India, assiduously hatched by Pakistan over several years, Kashmiri Muslims fell for the call for the consolidation of Islamic people. They forgot that they could not win against India and that they were being used by Pakistan. The result, after twenty-two years of civil war, is that Kashmiris are isolated and hanging dry. They are living tormented lives, at the mercy of India and Pakistan, and losing their Kashmiri Pandit brethren. 400,000 Pandits ran for their lives, leaving behind their jobs, homes, and friends, and a culture woven over several thousand years, becoming refugees in their own country.

Kashmiris no longer want to merge with Pakistan, having come to know of its benightedness, but are now gripped with a demonic passion for an independent nationhood. They forget that their only genuine leader, Sheikh Abdullah, spent thirteen years in Indian jails without realizing it, ending up giving up that suicidal dream. Why have Kashmiris lost their capacity for reasoning? India cannot give them freedom, because there is not a single M.P. in the Indian Parliament who will vote for that. And for a good reason. Even if, hypothetically, Kashmir were given independence, any fool can see that within six months Pakistan will capture it. So, why would India give independence to Kashmir, when it would amount to handing it to Pakistan on a platter? Giving Kashmir to Pakistan is not an option for India, as it would bring the northern international border of India closer to its capital by 300 miles, and it will destabilize the 170 million Muslim community's ties with India. Also, the terrorist culture of Pakistan and its unstable political climate will be breathing closer over India's neck. Let us imagine that somehow India gives independence to Kashmir, which is followed inevitably, within a short time, with Pakistan's usurpation of it. Will Kashmir then call India to help it defend itself, as it did in 1947? And if Kashmir were to do that, would India oblige it?

Many idealists scream that people have an inherent right for freedom and that is why Kashmiris should be given it, but they forget that while a divorce between married couples is granted in many civilized countries of the world, but the mankind has not yet reached a state of development when a part of a nation can get a divorce from the nation. Once a part gets integrated with a nation, economically, politically, and militarily, and has historical ties with it, a separation is almost impossible. In exceptional cases when a divorce has taken place, it has been at the cost of a lot of blood. Kashmiris are not revolutionaries by any stretch of imagination. They have to make best of what they have. After 64 years of waffling it is high time for peaceful living.


Excerpted from Agony of Dal Lake by Maharaj Kaul Copyright © 2012 by Maharaj Kaul. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents


Kashmir's Soul Under Pressure....................vii
1. Eternity And Now: Self-inflicted Wounds In Kashmir....................15
2. To Be Or Not To Be: Kashmir Problem and its Two Architects: Jawaharlal Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah....................25
3. The Impasse Over Kashmir....................43
4. The Kashmir Problem....................51
5. The Illusion And The Reality: The Demise Of Kashmiri Pandit Culture....................57
6. The Trip To Touch The Hallowed Land: The Visit To Kashmir In December 2002....................69
7. The Spirit Of Kashmiri Pandits: Historical Outline From The Ancient Times Through The Beginning Of Muslim Era....................81
8. Disillusionment And Faith :The Future Of Kashmiri Pandits....................91
9. The Future Of Kashmir....................101
10. Kashmiri Refugees' Settlement In US....................107
11. Insanity And Insensitivity: Reflections On Kashmir Problem....................111
12. Emperor's Clothes....................117
13. Rally To Protest Pakistan's Presentation Of Kashmir Case In UN....................123
14. The Indomitable Kashmiri Spirit: Will Not Give In To Barbarism, Greed, And Lies....................127
15. Reflections On Kashmir Problem....................131
16. The Cause For Peace In Kashmir Lives On....................137
17. The Suicide in Kashmir....................143
18. Terrorism In Kashmir Symposium....................149
19. Letter To The New York Times....................155
20. Upheaval In Kashmir....................159
1. Fleeting Moments At Pahalgam....................167
2. Siesta At Mansbal Lake....................172
3. In Search Of The Soul Of Gulmarg....................174
4. Touching The Remnants Of Time In Old Srinagar....................179
5. At The Feet Of Shiva At Amarnath....................188
1. Meeting Raj Begum....................199
2. Sat Lal Razdan: A Ray Of Light Through The Darkness....................209
3. The Lata Mangeshkar Of Kashmir Sings In New York....................217
1. We Have A Rendezvous With Destiny....................223
2. I Have Come To See You, Mother....................225
3. We Will March On And On....................229
4. The Miracle Of Maharajni Khir Bhavani....................230
5. The Anguish Of Kashmiri Pandits....................234
6. The Glory And The Exile....................235
7. Agony Of Dal Lake....................240
8. Irrepressible Youth: The Reminiscences Of Amar Singh College Years....................245
9. Nadir Monjays At Tarakh Halwoy's Shop....................256
10. A Rendezvous At Habba Kadal....................259
11. Upon Waking Up On My Birthday....................262
12. Roots....................263

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