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18th June '2014
Asking Lotuses from the “Lotus Eaters”!

Arun Jaitly, the new Indian Finance and Defence Minister during his recent visit to Kashmir valley while addressing the BJP workers asked them to give him five Lotus Flowers from Kashmir. “Give me at least five Lotus flowers from Kashmir in Assembly polls. This is a land of Saffron and Lotus. I need five flowers from this land”. He probably did not know that Kashmir is also known as the “Land of the Lotus Eaters”! Kashmiris are very fond of the seeds and the roots of the Lotus flower and have been eating these for centuries. Lotus is also the symbol of BJP and Saffron is their colour.

Interestingly, Kashmir has been extensively referred in Greek chronicles, the Chinese Annals of the Tang dynasty, and Arabic literature. From the ancient times, Kashmiris have been connected extensively with the lands in the West and the North. Compared to this there is lamentable lack of exact geographical mention of Kashmir in Sanskrit literature. Judging from the extreme scantiness of the data, it is clear that Kashmir to them was a country foreign and remote in every way. The name Kasmira is mentioned as the designation of the country and its people but in a very vague fashion. The Mahabharata refers in many passages to Kasmiras and their rulers but in a general manner without giving distinct location of the country. The most specific piece of information regarding Kashmir that Sanskrit literature outside the Valley furnishes is in the term Kasmira or Kasmiraja that designates Saffron and Kustha for which it was famous since ancient times. In that regard, Arun Jaitly is very correct. Kashmir for Indians generally denoted the land of Saffron. Lotus does not find any mention as there was no BJP then!

As India is now totally Saffron coloured so they are very keen to own and keep the ancient Land of Saffron. Unfortunately for them, the land is now totally coloured in Green. The transformation took place in the most peaceful way though the most revered saint of Kashmir, Mir Sayed Ali Hamadani popularly known as Shah-i-Hamadan. However, Kashmiris have been so much impressed by the mysticism of these saints that there has been no violence against other religions. It is the most tolerant Islamic Society in the world. Violence whenever it has occurred has been imported and not of Kashmiri origin. The most famous symbol of Kashmir known throughout the world these days is the green Chinar. One fails to understand why everyone from India wants to revive the long past ancient Hindu history of Kashmir rather than accept its present very tolerant Islamic character? Kashmir can only fit in the Indian mosaic if it is allowed to retain its present colour.

Arun Jaitly did not even have the courtesy to ask for the Lotus flowers in humility! He threatened the people with the rod of AFSPA and the Indian Constitution. One cannot expect a person of such stature to be oblivious of the ground situation in Kashmir. It would have been more humble and appropriate if he had paid his homage to the Sufi Saints of Kashmir. He should have as a gentleman declared that his government would definitely honour the wishes and the aspirations of the local people in a non-violent manner. He could have offered a corruption free governance and freedom of expression. Arun Jaitly should have remembered Pandit Kalhana’s saying, “The country of Kashmir may be conquered by the force of spiritual merit, but not by the force of soldiers”!

Unfortunately, the BJP has shown its true colours on the very first day of assuming power in Delhi when a junior minister from Jammu declared the initiation of the process for the abrogation of the Article 370 of the Indian Constitution conferring special status on Kashmir. Ironically, the rulers in Delhi regardless of colour and creed treat Kashmir as a prized colony which they never intend to let go. They have always used a carrot and a stick policy to keep Kashmir on a tight leash against the aspirations and wishes of its people. They have succeeded in a large measure in keeping the older docile generations in check.

However, much water has flown down Jhelum during the last couple of decades. The new generation of Kashmiris is totally alienated and refuses to be cowed done by the rod of AFSPA or the Indian Constitution. They have been pelting stones against the bullets. It would be advisable for the Indian Lotus to respect the Kashmir’s natural green colour and not try for the saffronisation of the valley. The valley’s new generation is capable of not only eating the Indian Lotus but its roots also! Who knows the valley may prove the ultimate nemesis for the Indian Lotus?

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