For centuries, the Kashmiri have been ruled over by the Afghan, Sikh, Dogra, and the British. Some rulers had been nice, others nasty. The conquerors’ version of history is considered the most authentic. There is a plethora of books and movies extolling valour of the Allies in the Second World War we rarely see or hear about bickering and military blunders of the infallible Allies. If you listen to Hitler’s speeches, you would come to know he felt ‘cornered’. In a speech, he laments that his people had been denied food, shelter, and clothing. Germany is a pauper, as it is not allowed to trade with or receive aid from the international community.
The Kashmiri need to free themself from Indian yoke to hone its talent to the fullest possible extent
The myth of the Kashmiri’s cowardice
The dogra did their best to crush the martial spirit in the Kashmiri. They did not allow even allow the Muslim Rajput in Kashmir to keep arms for self-protection. The non-Muslims were however allowed to keep arms without a license.
The Kashmiri kids used to play with sling-shots (ghulail in Urdu). To crush their fighting spirit, the dogra even prohibited the kids from playing with ghulails.
Muhammad Yusuf Saraf, in his book The Kashmir’s Fight for Freedom, writes, ‘Before the time of Maharajah Gulab Singh (children from) the different wards of Srinagar city used to turn out with slings and stones and played a very earnest and serious game. But, Gulab Singh did not approve of this fighting spirit and put a stop to the mimic warfare.’
A false story
They were portrayed as cowardly and unfit for military service through baseless malicious stories. Hari Singh’s army minister, Wakefield asked him to allow the recruitment of the Kashmiri into the army. Hari Singh rejected his proposal alleging that the Kashmiri are unfit for military service. Wakefield tells that Hari Singh told him “his grandfather Maharaja Ranbir Singh had raised a whole regiment and having uniformed and drilled them for six months in Srinagar, gave orders that they should march to Jammu. A deputation of their S officers waited upon him with a petition pointing out in making arrangements for their march, no provision has been made for police for their protection. The regiment was disbanded.”
Even now if we speak of Kashmiri talent, two Kashmiri students atop in India’s National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test, Air Commodore Hilal, flying the first Rafale and weaponising the fleet as Air Attaché in France, and the youngest Rugby coaching girl Irtiqa Ayoub
Saraf points out, ‘the story is historically incorrect and does not find support from any contemporary writer although many Englishmen were in the State throughout the reign of Ranbir Singh.’
For instance, Drew spent almost ten years, Girdlestone, Buhler, Mrs. Ansley, Doctor Neve, and Doctor Thompson have covered this period, but the incident which must have gained notoriety finds no place in their writings. There is no record that Ranbir Singh ever attempted to raise as much as a platoon of Kashmiri Muslims. A dutiful son whose father had even prevented mimic ghulail warfare among children could not have trusted them so soon after as to raise a double company from amongst them…to say that they [Kashmiri-speaking Muslims] are not fit for military service is total slander.
Read more: Kashmir awaits a peaceful future
Kashmiri valour in a free environment
During the reigns of two Kashmiri-origin kings, the Kashmiri exhibited tremendous military valour. Under King Lalitaditya, Kashmiri armies conquered almost the whole of the Punjab, parts of Afghanistan, the present tribal areas, Peshawar, Ladakh, and even parts of Kashghar. Then under Sultan Shahabud Din, the Kashmir army went as far as Multan and extended its dominion to large parts of Northern India. The Moghul conquered Kashmir by deceit.
The dogra did their best to crush the martial spirit in the Kashmiri.
Talent flourishes in a free environment. Even now if we speak of Kashmiri talent, two Kashmiri students atop in India’s National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test, Air Commodore Hilal, flying the first Rafale and weaponising the fleet as Air Attaché in France, and the youngest Rugby coaching girl Irtiqa Ayoub. The Kashmiri need to free themself from the Indian yoke to hone its talent to the fullest possible extent.
Mr. Amjed Jaaved has been writing free-lance for over five decades. He has served federal and provincial governments of Pakistan for 39 years. His contributions stand published in the leading dailies and magazines at home and abroad (Nepal. Bangladesh, et. al.). He is author of eight e-books including The Myth of Accession. He knows many languages including French and Arabic. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.