This has reference to Bedi’s Kashmir Connection (DE May 19) by Dr Ramesh Tamiri. It is important to know the history of the Marxist movement in Kashmir and the impact of the Leftist ideology on National Conference. Dr Tamiri has given a peep into the role of Bedi couple though the mystery has shrouded their role to a great extent and the Sheikh has been significantly reticent to speak at length about the couple.
I had the good luck of interacting with the late Prof. N.N. Raina on some aspects of Leftist movement in Kashmir when he was alive. The impression that I gathered from my various conversation with him has been that he was the real author of Kashmir Manifesto. Dr Tamiri has rightly pointed out that Kashmir leadership had made the Constitution of Uzbekistan as the role model for drafting the Constitution of J&K and that its reverberations are to be felt in Kashmir Manifesto. When in 1982 I was preparing for my maiden visit to Central Asia, I had a few sittings with late Prof. Raina to brief me on that fabulous region after it had adopted the socialist system. He advised me to read a particular book titled The Dawn over Samarkand.
This excellent book gives a graphic history of how Marxism was promulgated in the diehard Islamic fundamentalist state of Uzbekistan also known sometimes as Western Turkestan. I realized that Kashmir Manifesto was the re-hash of the contents of the book mentioned above. From the language of the Kashmir Manifesto, I could gather that its phraseology was akin to that of the Dawn over Samarkand and of Prof. Raina with which I was very familiar. He was commanding mastery over the language generally used by leftist ideologues that once Ralph Russell, the famous Urdu Professor in Cambridge wrote to him that only “he” could write on the Leftist ideology in India. I have seen and read that letter.
The point I want to make here is that in the course of my conversations with Prof. Raina, I came to know that he was very sore on NC leadership having betrayed the Left supporters by closing the Kashmir Manifesto after the Sheikh had successfully implemented the land reform agenda in which land was taken away from the landlords without compensation and distributed among the peasants and tillers. Dr Raina lamented that other important tasks that were suggested in the Kashmir Manifesto were deliberately ignored and finally put in the cold store.
This puts a big question mark on Sheikh Abdullah’s conviction of egalitarian society of which he made a loud noise before and after the accession of the State to the Indian Union. Further, Dr Tamiri has not given any clue to the polarization of Kashmir communists along religious lines, which proved that the leftist movement in Kashmir essentially suffered a lack of conviction. I hope he will deal with that aspect sometimes later.