Nationalism, Perceptive Journalism and Indefatigable Social Work

Adarsh Ajit
The Truth Foretold is a collection of Prem Nath Bhat’s articles displaying his journalistic acumen. It unfurls the glimpses of Kashmir history, south Asian politics, and its impact on India and Kashmir, agencies working against Indian interests, atrocities committed on Kashmiri Pandit community, communalism, treachery and hypocrisy of Muslim leadership, short-sightedness of central establishment and its failure in infusing the warmth of Indianness among Kashmiri Muslims and lot more. Jagmohan, the then Governor of J & K and the author of Frozen Turbulence, in his foreword, certifies that Prem Nath Bhat was a nationalist, a perceptive journalist and an indefatigable social worker.
Giving full marks to the past glamour, abilities, richness, and positivity of Pandit community the author terms them most patriotic and loyal to the Indian Nation and thus concludes that harassing Hindu minority in Kashmir is one of the tactics to clear the state of these patriotic people. He also criticizes the community members for leg pulling and mutual rivalry. He advises for establishment of small centres for collective Sadhna to sit together, walk and talk together.
Bhat has thorough journalistic data at his back. He touches historical and socio-political fumes that spoiled Kashmir. In mid 1985, he talks of The Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front opening a training school at Rawalpindi in Pakistan. The youths were given training in handling arms, ammunition, and explosives. It is this organisation, which extended an invitation to Dr. Farooq Abdullah to visit Pakistan in 1974. The author also talks about the former physics lecturer of Kashmir University:
‘Saudi Arabia has placed a four-storeyed building in Riyad at the disposal of one Dr. Ayoob Thakur who has opened a Kashmir Affairs Council to plan and prepare the Kashmiri Muslim youth for an armed rebellion against India.’ He questions if it is not fact that the Al- Jehad activists were at one time front-rank workers of NC led by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah. He also alleges that the rise and consolidation of Muslim communalism in the form of Muslim United Front owes its origin to a section of the Congress in Kashmir leading to their clamour:
‘jabri nata tode doo, kashmir hamain chode doo.’
Cross sectioning all pros and cons about the communal and separatist activities, Bhat does not label Dr. Farooq as anti-national. In fact, he sometimes notices Farooq’s capability to deliver. However, many a time, he dismantles various myths and scathingly criticises Dr. Farooq for his duplicity. He is disappointed on witnessing burning of the Indian flag and the mass movement against Indian nation. He blames Article 370 for the blockade for emotional integration of the state. To his despair, so-called national mainstream politicians and secular labelled people ignore the ground realities:
‘No self-respecting nation and much less a secular stalwart like Dr. Farooq can allow national flag to be burnt with applause and cheers. This is a crime more serious than the nude dance before Mrs. Gandhi during 1983.’
Analysing the onslaught, atrocities, tortures, ill-treatment meted to the Kashmiri Pandits from time to time Bhat recalls the Sikh Movement. He recreates historical meeting of 16 persons under the leadership of Pandit Kripa Ram of Mattan with Guru Teg Bahadur martyred for not accepting to covert. Linking various episodes and the words of Guru ‘I gave my head but not my faith’ Bhat divulges how Constable Mohammad Yousuf beat Keshav Nath Mahant of famous Vicharnag Temple to death on 9th of December 1988, as the Mahant did not agree to convert. Remarks like ‘batta hayhar’ hurled upon Kashmiri Pandits in bazaar and streets pains Bhat.
Digging the roots of communalism in Kashmir he finds that so endemic is the communal rot that the overthrow of Dr Farooq Abdullah, engineered with much skill, patience, and money, did not push the people any nearer the secular milestone. Instead, the very forces, which flatten on Indian money, joined hands overnight with the enemies of India. Bhat puts major shame and blame on the centre that has failed to evolve a realistic long-term Kashmir policy aimed at closer integration of the state with the country. He dejectedly predicts that despite any change in the government the Kashmir’s mood would remain the same as far as the separatist conviction is concerned.
The seeds of present changed philosophy of Kashmir lie in 1986 communal rights. Prem Nath Bhat unfolds stark realities. The state makes 10 years imprisonment and fine for killing cow and buffalo but immediately after elections cow and buffalo, mutton shops are opened in almost all towns and major villages. Foreign hands, internal sabotage and Pakistani agents occupy the important shrines of minority community in Murran, Tehsil Pulwama. A famous ashram at Tikar is reduced to ashes. In his much-acclaimed article, Kashmir Minority in Gas Chambers of Secular Laboratory, Mr Bhat is dangerously bold. A self-styled leader of KPs who is always at the beck and call of Dr Farooq, is invited in a crucial meeting for vetting Nisar Qazi’s alternative demand of declaring the spring of Gautamnag as ‘disputed’. Qazi lays claim on an ancient Hindu shrine of Gautam Nag founded by Gautam Rishi. He declares renaming of Anantnag as ‘Islamabad’.
Alleging the failure of various pacts, accords, and agreements like those of Tashkent and Shimla the author comments that all our accords have a history of our surrender of all that we have won with the priceless blood of our jawans right from 1948. He also throws light on Pakistan-China relationship, American diplomacy to thwart India becoming a power, funding of Pakistan to Jammu Kashmiri Liberation Front in an exclusive article published in this esteemed paper in September 12, 1989. On the one hand, Bhat comes down heavily on the failure of intelligence agencies for their failure in 1989 for having no knowledge of the place of hiding of Rubaya Sayeed, the daughter of the then home minister of India, but on the other hand, he commends the role of intelligence agencies in the wars of 1965 and 1971.
Bhat reminds how Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah described Kashmir Minorities as the shining jewel on the crown of India-KASHMIR but the same community was denied their share in the professional colleges and later the same Sheikh described the Pandits as Fifth Columnists. 1972 Agrarian Reforms proved another blow to the community.
Bhat does not hold common Kashmiri Muslims responsible for the whole Kashmir mess. He talks of Hindu -Muslim relationship and their joint participation in their respective festivals like Eid and Shivratri. However, he holds Kashmiri leadership and their hypocrisy responsible for the colossal wreck of Kashmir fabric:
‘Frankly speaking Kashmiri Muslim has been often duped by waving of a green handkerchief or exposing a small dole of rock salt. He has been exploited in the name of Muslim sentiment and Pakistan paradise.’
Bhat’s warning signals to Indian union would always prove a complete guide, if the establishments want to deliver on ground.
Salutes to his martyrdom for ‘India First, the Nation First.’