Studies in Kashmir

Prof Shalini Rana

Ten Studies in Kashmir History and Politics by Dr Kashinath Pandit, hardbound, 337 pages, published by Indian Council of Social Science Relation, New Delhi, 2019.
This is not a history with a chronological sequence. The author has chosen ten topics pertaining to the history and politics of Kashmir of medieval as well as contemporary times. These topics are of vital significance in understanding the complexities of history and politics of contemporary Jammu and Kashmir. Actually, it is a scholarly work of research and analysis presented as a lucid narrative strictly shunning ambiguity and understatement that are generally the bane of contemporary historians writing on Kashmir. The author enjoys the credit of recounting historical events with honesty, clarity and boldness, supplementing them with painstaking evidence and authentication. It is a valuable addition to the corpus of historical material produced on Kashmir in the last three or four decades but with a big difference. A chronologically sequential historical account often becomes boring but as the present work switches on to a new topic after dealing in depth with the previous one, the study becomes absorbing. The book begins with the story about the October 1947 Tribal Incursion of Kashmir and the chapters that follow are Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, Kashmir Question at the UN Security Council, The Genesis of Kashmir Crisis, Ethnic Cleansing of Kashmir Valley, Kashmir Crisis, the Historical Perspective, Medieval Kashmir Historiography, Kashmir – The Saga of a Twisted History, Kashmir Muslim Society – New Contours and Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah.
This volume is more like a narrative of events and looks like the unfolding of dramatic events with far-reaching consequences for the people of the State and the sub-continent. The author has supported most of the sensitive assertions and conclusions with historical evidence which lends considerable authenticity to the book. In the process of narration, many revelations come to light which is not known to ordinary students of Kashmir history. No serious researcher in contemporary history and politics of Kashmir can afford to ignore this volume as it is distinct from most of the works that have been produced during the last three decades. Obviously, these themes form the core of contemporary Kashmir history and politics.
A remarkable thing about this volume is that the author writes objectively on events and situations without forcing his inferences on the reader. He takes care of presenting the events factually leaving the inference to the discretion of the reader. The book is written in chaste English and stands out for its lucidity. The younger generations of university students and researchers will find it a mine of information on very crucial events of contemporary Kashmir history. It has the potential of removing many cobwebs of confusion that have been woven around various personalities and events connected with the history of contemporary Kashmir. In particular, it throws light on how the superpowers developed a strategic interest in the Kashmir region as a continuation of the Great Game in Central Asia of the mid-19th century. The crisp and concise presentation of events of historical importance makes the book a fascinating story.
The author has tried to debate many controversial issues particularly pertaining to the medieval historiography of Kashmir. He believes that the big gap in the continuity of mediaeval Kashmir history from the 14th to the 16th century still remains in place. In more recent times, the historical deficit is to be noted with regard to the nationalistic role of personalities like Maharaja Hari Singh, Ramchand Kak, Pandit Premnath Dogra and Bakhshi Ghulam Muhammad. It is sad that biased and motivated historians and commentators have attempted to demonize them and thus distort our true history. We need to bring these aspects of Kashmir history to the public domain for a free and fair discussion so that many myths woven around them are shredded to pieces.
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