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Outwitted and Outsmarted PDF Print E-mail
Written by Capt. S.K. Tikoo   
Wednesday, 06 October 2010 00:00

I am reminded of an interesting episode that took place in the autumn of 1988 in the valley of Kashmir. Things were bad, both in New Delhi and Srinagar. While VP Singh had raised the banner of revolt against his onetime benefactor and leader Rajiv Gandhi, the militancy in Kashmir had just started as a consequence of ‘rigged’ legislative assembly elections of 1987. The autumn that year saw most parts of the valley ravaged by floods, destroying vast quantities of standing paddy crops; even the freshly harvested paddy was also washed away. VP Singh, as the rising star of the anti-Rajiv brigade, visited the valley on the invitation of Mufti Mohd. Syed, who too had deserted Congress, his parent political party, and joined Jana Morcha, a newly floated political amalgam by VP Singh. Mufti was the obvious choice to be the president of the state unit of Jana Morcha.



VP Singh’s visit to the flood ravaged areas of south Kashmir was a sequel to an earlier flying visit of the Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to these very affected areas. As you have correctly guessed, he had visited the valley on an invitation extended to him by Dr. Farooq Abdullah, the Chief Minister of the state. To be fair to Rajiv Gandhi, his visit to the flood affected areas  was out of his genuine concern for the people, mostly peasants, who had lost everything, unlike the visit of VP Singh which was out and out political and more to settle personal scores.


Floods apart, the situation in the valley was quite alarming. A group of some two dozen young Kashmiri Muslims had already crossed over to POK to get trained in subversive activities, which included handling of sophisticated weapons of the dreaded AK series, laying mines, hurling hand grenades, etc. The entire Valley was abuzz with rumors that the group would be crossing over to this part of Kashmir anytime, any day, from some unguarded post on the vast LOC. Intelligence reports emanating from Srinagar and landing directly on the table of the Prime Minister warned the country of a systematic hate-India campaign, launched and sustained by Pakistan, that was gaining ground in the valley. These reports also informed the PM about the miserable conditions of the security forces (BSF, CRPF, ITBP, ARMED FORCES, etc) who had to digest the insults and taunts such as “Indian dogs go back” in silence, causing them deep demoralization.


Coming back to Rajiv Gandhi, the story goes like this: while he was taken to the affected areas of south Kashmir to assess the damage done by the floods, his hosts thought of showing him some unaffected areas too. He was taken to the fields in higher altitudes somewhere around Damhal Hanjipora, some 6000 feet above mean sea level. Rajiv Gandhi was pleased to see a vast paddy field in full bloom right in front of him and it was conveyed to him that harvesting in these higher regions took place quite some time after the paddy was harvested in the rest of the valley due to climatic conditions. A lone BSF soldier was also seen guarding a picket provided for the safety of this far flung area. Suddenly a peasant walked out of his paddy field with tar coal still on his legs and approached the PM, who was only too keen to have first hand information about the floods from the peasant himself. On enquiry, the ‘innocent’ peasant of this most backward area of the valley pointed his finger towards a poplar tree standing erect nearby and in his typical Kashmiri manner, said “Jenab, water was right up to this place (one third of the poplar tree)”. Everyone around was embarrassed, for they visualized that water at that level would reconvert the valley to Sati Sar [the historic lake that is supposed to have filled the Valley millennia ago]. There was stunned silence all around, and this poor ‘innocent’ and ‘ignorant’ Kashmiri peasant realized that he had made a faux pas, but he had something more in his armory and he made best use of it as only a garib [poor] Kashmiri can do. He leapt towards the BSF sepoy, caught hold of his hand and looked towards Rajiv Gandhi straight in his eyes and said, ‘But for this noble soul, who is virtually Allah incarnate, we would all have been swept away by the flash floods. BSF is our savior and when you asked me, if I needed any help, my request to you is, please send more such people to Kashmir.” Everybody was relieved. But I am told that the PM, on his return to New Delhi, had given quite a dressing down to Intelligence officers for feeding him with incorrect information, and he rubbished their reports as trash. After all, he had personally seen the high esteem in which the ordinary Kashmiri (Muslim) held the security forces. Rajiv Gandhi was one more Indian leader to be outwitted by an ‘ignorant’ Kashmiri (Muslim) living in one of the most backward areas of the state.


But, why blame Rajiv Gandhi. He was not the first to be so outwitted and outsmarted. Kashmiris (read KMs) had done it all along so very successfully. The greatest politician, to my mind, that the sub-continent (India, Pakistan and Bangladesh) has produced is Mohd. Ali Jinnah. The man never went to jail, never undertook a Pada Yatra, never was seen breaking the law of British India (didn’t even break Sec 144), and wore the best western fabrics tailored by the distinctive dress makers of France, England and Italy. He indulged in all un-Islamic activities, enjoyed his scotch, loved ham sandwiches and cocktail sausages made of tender pork, and did not know how to offer Namaz. One day when he did not come home to have his coffee at the appointed coffee time, his young pretty Parsi wife, Ruttie, walked non- chalantly with a flask containing coffee and a couple of ham sandwiches, neatly placed in a hand held willow basket, right into the mosque, where her husband was held up in a meeting with other Muslim leaders. She walked inside the House of Allah with her expensive leather sandals in her tiny shoes, and worse was yet to follow. She placed the basket on the MIMBER, the most sacred and exalted place in the mosque and very lovingly and affectionately made coffee for her husband and both enjoyed their coffee and ham sandwich, to the utter disbelief and despair of the devout Muslims who were aghast watching this sacrilege helplessly.


Such un-Islamic activities made Indian Muslims think twice before they tied themselves up to his bandwagon. Jinnah got the scent and told them, “Hell with you”, and left for London bag and baggage. So strong was his confidence in himself that the entire Muslim community of India lay prostrate before him and begged his forgiveness, and pledged to follow him on his terms and conditions and requested him to come back to India and lead them. Can you find another leader like him? Unlikely. The man came back and created history by carving out a new country, Pakistan, exclusively for Muslims. Now the same original Quaid e Azam visited Kashmir with the fondest hope that he would get a tumultuous welcome in a place inhabited by overwhelming majority of Muslims .Do I have to tell you what reception he got there. Going down the river Jhelum in a boat procession, he was shocked to see Kashmiri Muslims ‘greeting’ him with lifted pherans (long shirts) in their hands and wearing no trousers, no under garments. Too sophisticated to understand what Kashmiris wanted to convey, he turned his gaze to the right bank of the river and was doubly shocked to see the ‘reception’ being repeated. Kashmiris had not only outwitted the greatest politician but had convincingly shown him his place.


But when they outwitted and outsmarted us, the Kashmiri Pandits (they did not have to make an extra effort to outwit anyone else), the rest were just chicken feed. One KP was known as ‘two and a half Congress’, a well-earned epithet (surely some KP himself created it) no doubt; we proved beyond a doubt that it was impossible for the Congress Party backers to dominate us or cow us down. Let us be honest, we lived in the valley on our own terms in spite of continuous pin pricks, and sometimes even dagger thrusts. They were all along wondering what clay we are made off. They would close all doors of opportunity and yet to their chagrin they would find us inside the hall having gained entry through an unnoticed gate that was ajar.


Akhtar Mohi ud Din, a Padma awardee, had coined a sobriquet for us – KHOUDA SAEBUN BATA PHOUL – (roughly translated as ‘God’s own cooked rice grain’). It is also the name of a multi-coloured insect, too small but remarkably refreshing and pleasing to look at and absolutely harmless. One day in the India Coffee House in Srinagar, he asked Shyam Zevan, “You are not even 3% of the population and see how you are dominating in every field; God forbid if you were 10%, where would we be?”


Very casually, the great Shyam Zevan replied, “ASSI HA CHHE YEET TI VAARHA” (We are already far too many). I think his words are quite prophetic, but let us leave it for another day. Ultimately they had to do away with us, kill us, and kidnap our women. They did not even spare infants and toddlers. And they succeeded in throwing us out of the valley. Along with us, they threw out the last remnants of those who dared to say in public that we are Indians. For the first time in over 500 years, they outwitted us and did it so smartly. We should never forget this indignity and ignominy and try to find out where did we go wrong.


Now, there is no problem with Kashmiris. I can assure you, they do not want to join Pakistan, nor do they want Azaadi. They just want to continue with the blackmail, keep enjoying the grants totaling 11% of the national GDP for a population of less than 1%. These are the figures for the entire state, and since the major portion of the funds goes to the valley, it means that more than 20% of the national GDP goes to less than 0.5% of the population. Excellent criers as they are, they will keep crying hoarse, thus ensuring that they do not have to tender any accounts for these trillions of Indian tax payers’ money. And you think anyone has the guts to ask for the accounts?



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