Literary Notes: The History, Language and Literature of Kashmir Summarized – Journal
LALLESHWARI, also known as Lalla Arifa, was a 14th century mystical poet from Kashmir. His poetry is believed to be among the earliest verses of the Kashmiri language.
In addition to her mystical thoughts, she once wrote about her homeland, Kashmir, and what she said can be roughly translated as:
We were here and we will stay, The sun may continue to rise and set, But we will stay and swallow up the times.
Quoting these lines in his op-ed, Dr. Zafar Husain Zafar, Editor-in-Chief of Arqam, put them into perspective with today’s Kashmir: bereft of special status and rights but steadfast and determined to reclaim it. Dr. Zafar says that although Kashmiris have been suffering for centuries at the hands of marauders, but under the ashes, the embers of freedom have never died, nor will they after the revocation of Article 370 by India in 2019.
Arqam is an Urdu-language literary journal published in Rawlakot, Azad Kashmir. Launched in 2007, the journal has always struggled but has been kept afloat by a team of determined editors. The current issue, dated June 2022, is a special issue on Kashmir. It was released in the context of what India did in 2019.
On August 15, 2019, Articles 370 and 35a of India’s constitution were repealed, dealing a fatal blow to the basic rights of millions of Kashmiris. Article 370 of the Indian constitution grants the state of Jammu and Kashmir a special self-governing status within the Indian Union. As a result of this constitutional provision, Jammu and Kashmir had its own constitution, promulgated in 1956.
Article 35a of the Indian constitution allowed the state of Jammu and Kashmir to define and decide on the “permanent residents” of the state. Certain special rights and privileges were attached to “permanent residence”. These privileges included employment, scholarships and the right to own and buy property in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
The BBC, while reporting the controversial step of revoking these constitutional articles, said on its website on August 5, 2019 that “key leaders have been placed under house arrest, public meetings have been banned and reports indicate that mobile networks and the internet have been restricted.” .
The current issue of Arqam is an attempt to draw the attention of the powers that be to the massive violation of human rights in Indian-occupied Kashmir and to shed light on the history, culture, language and Kashmir literature.
There are seven sections and they deal with: the history of Kashmir, the freedom movement, language and literature, tourism and culture. The remaining two sections include letters from some well-known personalities who discuss Kashmir.
In this section, some letters of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, addressed to well-known Kashmiris have also been included. The last section offers book reviews and one of the articles in this part tells the story of Shiraza, a magazine started by Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages, Srinagar, in 1964. It is published in several languages including local Kashmir languages. .
Some of the articles included in Arqam offer deep understanding and insight into Kashmir, its history and culture.
For example, on the history of Kashmir, articles by Ilmuddin Salik, Masood Ahmed Khan, Dr Mumtaz Ahmed and a few others tell us how Kashmir was taken over by different powers at different times and what happened in the region over the centuries, providing readers with the knowledge to understand the Kashmir issue which has been a bone of contention between Pakistan and India since independence in 1947.
The section of the newspaper on the Kashmiri freedom struggle and movement also offers some valuable articles. For example, Irshad Mahmood in his article has told the whole story of the Jammu and Kashmir conflict through the years 1947 to 1990. Dr Rafiuddin Hashmi’s article pays tribute to Syed Ali Gilani who never forgot , says Dr. Hashmi, Pakistan and Islam in its struggle for the freedom of Kashmir.
Interestingly, the tourism section offers scholarly articles on Kashmir travels to distant and recent countries by well-known personalities, such as Mian Muhammad Bakhsh, Munshi Ameen Chand and Maulana Ghulam Rasool Mehr.
A team of editors – which includes Fayyaz Naqi, Ejaz Naqi and Muhammad Saeed, led by Dr Zafar Husain Zafar – deserve kudos for publishing a compact issue on Kashmir.
Their message is: Kashmiris will survive and stay forever, as Lalleshwari said, the sun may set on the occupying forces, but Kashmiris will rise up and take the reign of time into their own hands, because you can imprison the bodies but cannot suppress the soul.
Posted in Dawn, July 18, 2022