A path breaking book on Kashmir

Rajesh Raina
Name of the book: Kashmir before the Accession
And After
Author: Professor Rattan Lal Hangloo.
Publisher: Primus International Delhi
Pages: 237
Kashmir problem is a grand subject for a book today when many specialized investigations await synthesis. Recent years have seen the publication of many valuable empirical studies but these works seldom address the broader questions about the Kashmir problem. In the process their range of discussion has got narrower because of their loyalty to either pseudo Indian nationalism/Indian state or regional aspirations of freedom. Whether at national or regional level, such set of categories are invoked by some political participants in claiming legitimacy over the region and by regional social struggles to contest such imposition in Kashmir.“For nearly four decades now, Professor Rattan Lal Hangloo is internationally known and admired for his integrity and painstaking scholarship. All his books provide much in the way of historical and political guidance for future generations apart from mediating comprehensive knowledge on the concerned subject. His present book Kashmir Before the Accession and After stands out in its potential as a teaching tool for politicians, policy makers, academics, general public and students because of simplifying excessive complex political positions ,often seen as arcane even by literate public.
“This well researched study emphasizes the complex and multidimensional nature of the Kashmir problem. There are seven chapters in this book and each chapter compliments the other nicely. It is based on rich and wide variety of sources. The introduction itself offers a richly nuanced history that will be of great value to scholars working on Kashmir and contributes to national policy making. The construction of a long and academically robust chapter on Kashmir’s linkages with central Asia and rest of world from early times and how sudden collapse of these contacts impacted Kashmir in economic and political spheres and the nostalgia that it left behind till date is full of fascinating insights. He speaks eloquently about Kashmir’s trans- Himalayan contacts and varied linkages from early times and the opportunities it provided until the beginning of world war first. As the chapters proceed one senses the density and sophistication that challenges and edifies any reader of Kashmir politics.
“The account of Shiekh Abdullah’s role, his successes, failures and his party’s (National Conference) contribution is the most interesting description that clears many doubts. He neatly places the historical roots in appropriate order and accepts that there is a problem that needs to be addressed. For the first time the suffering of Kashmiri Pandits has received adequate attention of the scholar in most objective manner.“While examining center state relations and the attitude of center under different ruling parties in which congress figures for major period of time from post independent era Prof.Rattan Lal Hangloo brilliantly points out the institutional fissures and constitutional lapses and like any good research this also raises some questions as he answers for example: what is the role of democratic institutions in such crisis? Why so much militarization of the region has not accomplished much in terms of seeking legitimacy for the Indian state? What are the consequences of this militarization for local population? Why bewildered pubic fears and reactions to public policy and unsatisfactory economic measures have not been addressed to produce adequate results in establishment of peace in the region. Mr Hangloo is tireless in his analysis, he clearly establishes the fact that the legitimational crisis of Indian state in Kashmir is compounded in a big way by her own frequent wrong doing and unworthy policies, that always resulted in eroding India’s sovereignty in the region. He briefly points to absurdity of new political arrangements. However,with impressive erudition and an exceptional historical intelligence the author has placed the Kashmir crisis fully in global perspective. With a freshness of perspective Prof Hangloo has illuminated all problems that have been glossed over in the past by scholars/retired army officers who have been either sympathetic to Government’s measures or loyal to their party or personal prejudice. He has examined in detail the vicious role of Anglo-American bloc in dealing with South Asia during cold war and its consequences for Kashmir.
How Pakistan facilitated the accomplishment of the designs of Anglo-American bloc in the region and appropriated many policies to advance their own anti-Indian agenda clothed that with Islamic theology in post partition era resulting in four wars and devastation of Kashmir and Kashmiris has been brilliantly addressed .Prof Hangloo’s overall argument is compelling .“The entire book is rich in detail and comprehensive exploration of the problem. Many books appeared on the problem but most of them rested their interpretations on personal anecdotes and interviews and the journalistic overtones therefore this work assumes the status of path breaking book on Kashmir problem because the author has made an important contribution towards filling a major void.
A book like this ought to be more accessible to every Kashmiri. Strategically and substantially this book is a productive move in a political environment which is increasingly hostile. Prof Hangloo establishes the value that a context sensitive and dynamic field of engagement can have for Kashmir’s politics. The book is thought provoking, insightful exploration and provided an admirable treatment of issues neglected so far while looking into Kashmir problem. Despite belonging to a family that has immensely suffered during the Kashmir crisis Prof Hangloo is well known for his objective and critical thinking and not for blind devotion to prejudice or communal feelings that inhibit the production of real history. His ability to incorporate insights in introduction and conclusion and how these can help to engage in legitimate political decision making is a thoughtful expansion of his scholarly potentiality.
(The author is a Journalist)