Amarnath Agitation: Conflicting Perspectives
by M K Teng on 23 Dec 2009 4 Comments

[Speech of Prof. M K Teng on the occasion of the release of Conflicting Perspectives by Prof. Hari Om at the University of Jammu, Jammu, on 20 December 2009]


Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a welcome occasion for me to make some introductory remarks on the book, Conflicting Perspectives, written by Prof. Hari Om.


The book, a study of the Sri Amarnath agitation, is an analysis of the sociology of the conflict inherent in an ideological State. Jammu & Kashmir is an ideological state. The Jammu & Kashmir State does not form a part of the secular political organization of India. Of all the States of the Indian Union, Jammu & Kashmir is a separate sphere of Muslim interest, placed on the territories of India, but outside its Constitutional Organization.


Jammu & Kashmir State, espouses a separate freedom, which is committed to ensure the realization of the Islamic destiny of its Muslim population.


Dr Hari Om has presented an objective account of the ideological commitments of the Muslim political class in Jammu & Kashmir, which has shaped the architecture of the separate freedom the State is committed to achieve. Dr Hari Om has not accepted the relevance of any ideological overlap in his study. Like all historians of the human struggle for freedom, he has identified himself with the struggle that he has portrayed in his book. However, he has at no time allowed his narrative to reflect a compromise on the basic values of freedom.


Dr. Hari Om is a scholar of considerable experience. He has sounded a solemn warning in the introductory note of his book against all forms of logical reduction, which have characterized the study of history in India. He notes:


Professors R.S. Sharma, Suvira Jaiswal and D.N. Jha claim that they are fully conversant with what happened during the ancient times and what they have written in this regard is an accurate account of the Indian past. Professors Irfan Habib, Shireen Moosivi, Iqtidar Alam Khan, R.L. Shukla, to mention a few, also make similar claims.”


Dr. Hari Om comments on their claims and notes in remorse!

Ancient India was uncivilized and barbarous, medieval India progressive, secular, accommodating and tolerant; and modern India intolerant, anti-Dalit, anti-Christian, anti-farmers, anti-working class and anti-poor and the Indian freedom struggle, essentially a struggle of the Hindu bourgeois class”.


Dr. Hari Om’s concern is not misplaced. There is a logical inconsistency in explaining the history of India on the basis of borrowed methodological paradigm of historiography.


Dr. Hari Om notes:

I have always believed in cardinal principles of historiography that facts are sacrosanct and the interpretation of facts is the fundamental right of the historians”.


There is no denying of the fact that the historians of India, the British and the Europeans, as well as the Indian, have used Semitic models of historiography to disprove the Sanskrit content of the Hindu history of India. The historians of medieval India, Muslim historians being the most influential among them, have used Marxist reductionism models of historiography to rationalize the Muslim conquest of India.


Dr. Hari Om’s emphatic refutation of the claim that the Muslim conquest of India secularized Sanskrit India must be appreciated.


In India, during British rule as well as during the years of Indian freedom, historiography has always sought its legitimacy in contemporary politics. Dr. Hari Om has broken away from this Indian tradition. He has at no place sought the legitimacy of what he has written in contemporary politics. In fact, “Conflicting Perspectives” is an indictment of contemporary politics in India.


Dr. Hari Om has followed the empirical, non-normative approach and presented a descriptive and analytical account of a sociological conflict of serious dimensions.


His mind is not burdened with the responsibility of finding a rationale for the Muslim quest for a separate freedom in Jammu & Kashmir. Unlike Indian historians, he does not make any claim to search for a compromise between secularism and Muslim identity politics, which has dominated the outlook of civil society in Jammu & Kashmir. Dr. Hari Om’s study on the Sri Amarnath agitation exposes the contradictions in the reconciliation of the multi-religious social culture of Jammu & Kashmir with Muslim identity politics.


He notes:

It is not just the people of Jammu and Ladakh and the displaced Kashmiri Hindus whose attitude to the kind of politics being followed by the Kashmir based leaders is very hostile. The people of Kashmir are also politically divided into several groups, demanding autonomy, self-rule, merger with Pakistan, independence from both India and Pakistan, a separate homeland in the Valley and full merger of the State with the rest of the country. In other words, there are contradictions in political perceptions of the people of Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh”.


Dr. Hari Om’s book, Conflicting Perspectives, has brought to surface the stark reality that the recognition of Jammu & Kashmir into a separate Muslim sphere of interest in India has strung the people of Jammu & Kashmir in between India and Pakistan.


The book throws into bold relief the elemental divide in Jammu & Kashmir which has pushed Muslims halfway to Pakistan and held Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists halfway to India. Hari Om accuses the Indian political class of breaking the unity of India and subjecting the Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists in Jammu & Kashmir to the imperatives of a Muslim State.


He writes:

The result has been the promotion of separatism in Kashmir and neglect and persecution of the non-Muslim minorities in the State as well as the emergence of a Muslim dispensation that outrages their sensitivities and negates the very principle of secularism and democracy. It is no wonder then that the extremists and the protagonists of autonomy, self-rule and States’ merger with Pakistan have ruled the roost and spread their tentacles beyond Kashmir.”


The study undertaken by Dr. Hari Om is not aimed to prove any presupposed notion of history. It is mainly aimed to narrate the events which formed the Swami Amarnath agitation and faithfully describe the interplay of forces which have determined the course of the history of post-independence Jammu & Kashmir.


Dr. Hari Om is a man of courage. In India, particularly in Jammu & Kashmir, it needs the courage of a soldier to speak the truth. India is the country where everybody has been experimenting with truth. But few have taken the courage to face the truth. In Jammu & Kashmir fewer people took the courage to speak the truth.


Dr. Hari Om deserves congratulations for the attempt he has made. History alone will judge him.


Prof MK Teng is a retired Professor and Head of the Political Science Department of Kashmir University; he has authored many books, including a seminal work on Article 370

[Prof. Hari Om has agreed to kindly provide excerpts of his controversial book to ; we would be carrying the excerpts shortly - Editor]

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