When a person in a court room stands in a witness box, he swears by keeping his hand on the holy book of the religion which he professes and declares that he will tell the whole “Truth”, and nothing but the whole “Truth”! The Webster dictionary defines “Truth” as “the real facts about something: the things that are true”. It further elaborates, that the “Truth” is “the body of real things, events, and facts”. The Cambridge dictionary definition is, “the real facts about a situation, event, or a person”. Unfortunately, in the present day Kashmir, none of these definitions holds good! The “Truth” here is something that suits a situation, event, or a person. In fact, it is very difficult for a person to discern what the real “Truth” is because of the totally murky situation. However, going by the dictionary definition, there are definitely real facts about “the situation, the events, or the persons”, notwithstanding the fact that the most people hesitate deliberately or unintentionally to speak these out. Lying is taken to be normal behaviour. Nobody expects the real “Truth” to be spoken out. This holds good in every sphere of activity including politics.
This virtual apathy to the “Truth” and “normal” behaviour of lying has been commented upon by various foreigners who have visited Kashmir from time to time. Sir Walter Lawrence in “The Valley of Kashmir” has described in detail the character and disposition of Kashmiris. “The Kashmiri bears an evil reputation in the Punjab, and indeed throughout Asia. Proverbs liken him to a snake in his morals, and to a fowl in his manners, and men are warned against admitting a Kashmiri to their friendship”. Moorcroft, Hugel, Drew, and Barnes describe them as “Selfish, superstitious, ignorant, supple, intriguing, dishonest, false-tongued, ready with a lie, and given to various forms of deceit”. Moorcroft, however, admits that the vices of Kashmiris are not innate, but are due to the government under which they lived. “These vices are the effects of his political condition rather than his nature.” Walter Lawrence concedes that in a country where there was practically no justice, the only weapon in the hands of the weak was lying or subterfuge. He states that two national features of their character are–lying and envy or malice.
“A Kashmiri cannot see any one getting on in life.” However, detailing the good qualities, Walter Lawrence writes, “Kashmiris possess an individuality, and a national character which will cling to them wherever they go. Kashmiris are fond of their own country, its food, its water, and its dress….. Finally, though the character of a Kashmiri leaves much to be desired, I think that it is to their credit that it is not worse, considering the few chances they have had for becoming truthful, manly, and self-respecting….A man who can be beaten and robbed by anyone with a vestige of authority soon ceases to respect himself and his fellow-men, and it is useless to look for the virtues of a free people among the Kashmiris, and unfair to twit them with absence of such virtues. The Kashmiri is what his rulers have made him, but I believe and hope that two generations of a just and strong rule will transform him into a useful, intelligent, and fairly honest man”.
Well, a Kashmiri is yet to have those two generations of a just and a strong rule. One may concede that the lying nature of a Kashmiri especially to his rulers is due to untold miseries and suffering he has gone through in earlier times and continues to go through even now. But one cannot explain the similar behaviour among Kashmiris themselves when they are under no outside compulsion. Lying has become the second nature of an average Kashmiri. He does not feel any remorse or compunction while speaking a blatant lie. Incidentally, among themselves Kashmiris have the three stages of “Truth”. When a Kashmiri swears by Almighty God he says “Wallah” and claims his speech to be true. One should take it to be 100% lie. Once he swears by his parents, it must be a half-truth! However, when he swears by his children, the statement can be taken to be somewhat near the “Truth”.
The main reason for such behaviour appears to be the material greed which has overtaken everything after 1947 or rather after 1953 when the streams of money started flowing into the valley to buy Kashmiri loyalty. The generations of rulers that came after 1953 instead of giving a strong and a just rule imagined by Sir Walter Lawrence necessary for changing the character of a Kashmiri, unleashed the most corrupt practices to assassinate the Kashmiri character. Since then there has been no end and with each passing day new methods both covert and overt are being used to drown Kashmiris in a whirlpool of falsehood, insincerity and material as well as moral corruption.
George Orwell has said, “In a time of universal deceit-telling the truth is a revolutionary act”. Thus every revolution begins with speaking out the “Truth” and standing by it regardless of the consequences. Lord Buddha says, “Three things cannot be long hidden: the Sun, the Moon, and the truth. There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting”. So if a true revolution has to begin in Kashmir, people have to start telling the truth and go all the way!