Dr. Abdul Ahad in his latest book, “Kashmir: Triumphs and Tragedies”, in chapter seven titled, “Intellectuals and Intelligentsia” talks of some people who brazenly disgrace themselves by stooping so low as to become unnatural and unethical service providers to their bosses. These “Unethical Service Providers” have existed in all periods of Kashmir history. These people in the earliest times were known as notorious “Damarasa” as mentioned by Kalhana in Rajatarangni. Damaras were the landlords who were the real king makers. However, some of these were very unethical and roguish. They virtually corrupted the Kings and Queens of ancient Kashmir. Kalhana mentions Damaras as the powerful semi-independent feudal lords who controlled the Royalty of ancient Kashmir. Damaras were feudal land-owners or barons. They mostly lived in the fertile cultivated portions of the valley and their seats formed strong-holds capable of defence. These territorial lords were the true king makers. These earliest aristocrats or nobles continued to be an influential element even under the Sultans of Kashmir. The advent of Islam in the valley introduced a new element. These were the Sayyids who had accompanied Shah-i-Hamadan from Iran. They considered themselves to be superior to the local converts to Islam. Their progeny started a new class of aristocracy. Mughals patronised some of these aristocrats who had sided with them during the capture of Kashmir. However, the rule of Afghans and Sikhs was so harsh that nothing of aristocracy or sophistication survived. They were uncouth and ruthless rulers. Dogras created new land barons by importing Rajputs from Jammu as also patronised the erstwhile Damaras especially those who could act as their “Unethical Service Providers”.
After the end of the Dogra rule and advent of so called democratic set up created in the uncertain and confusing conditions of 1947, new breeds of “Unethical Service Providers” came into being. The emergency administration of Sheikh Abdullah encouraged and patronised some strongmen both in the party as well as in administrationwho would carry out the dictatorial orders unethically to keep the people in submission. After dethroning of Sheikh Abdullah, Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad selected some of these strongmen who had been loyal to him during Sheikh Abdullah’s administration to cleanse the unwanted elements and brow beat the people into submission. These were known as the “Goggas” who served the same purpose but in a harsher and brazen way. They would herd the people like a dumb flock of sheep and would reward the willing ones among them handsomely. This happened while all the rebels were put behind bars or pushed across the ceasefire line.
During the time of G. M. Sadiq, there did not appear any need for “Unethical Service Providers” as he would use the strong legal police force to suppress any opposition. Dissenters were put in jail for years together and not asked to compromise through corruption and unethical means. His seven years were probably the only clean administrative rule even though he was not able to change the basic mind-set of the people towards India. Being a communist himself, he believed in people who had strong convictions and sound ideology. According to him, those who had real convictions not favouring India should stay in Jail! Thus during his tenure, the “Unethical Service Providers” virtually disappeared.
The return of Sheikh Abdullah as the Chief Minister in 1975was after the abandonment of the basic convictions he held right from 1931 regarding total emancipation of the people and providing them a place of honour and dignity. The people who had been led by him round and round in circles still followed him in spite of the somersaults! However, to keep the simmering discontent in check and exhibit the popularity of his new compromised stance, there again rose the need of the “Unethical Service Providers”. Corruption and dishonesty grew in leaps and bounds. The material possessions regardless of the means of obtaining the same became the way of life. Since that time, the “Unethical Service Providers” not only received patronage from the rulers in Srinagar and Delhi but became an important part of the ruling as well as the administrative set up. Some of them had very violent ends both at the hands of their beneficiaries as well as their opponents. Mostly, the problems rose over sharing of the booty or failure to provide the “Unethical” services.
The filthy atmosphere created by these “Unethical Service Providers” has hardly left any space for honest people. In fact, truth, honesty, and integrity are the scarcest items in Kashmir at the present moment. These people who are also known as the “Middlemen” have mushroomed in every sphere of life and in every section of the society. The worst tragedy is that instead of being hauled up for their corrupt and dishonest workings, they get awarded and rewarded. One wonders whether the Kashmir Society will ever be rid of these “Unethical Service Providers”. The main problem is that over last 65 years or so a colossal administrative and security set up has been created in Kashmir with patronage from Delhi. This set up has a sizeable number of “Unethical Service Providers”. As mentioned in these columns, the only hope is the new generation. However, the basic condition is to create in them an urge to be honest, speak the truth and have the courage to stand by it regardless of the consequences. That seems the only road to salvation from the present ills of our society created by the “Unethical Service Providers” over a long period of our recent history. In the alternative we may be doomed till the end of time!