The People of Indus

via,prtpage-1.cms published on March 24, 2009


Tarun Vijay

Perverz Musharraf came to India and
went back with bouquets, but not before he had collected a few inconvenient
questions he couldn’t answer, thanks to a brave Kashmiri Hindu lady. She
asked him at a conclave why it had not been possible for her to go back to her
home in Srinagar? He fumbled and looked funny.

Now, this question
needs an Indian reply too.

There are five lakh of them. Even if there
was just one, the Indian state was supposed to be as active as it was to reserve
seats for Muslims in educational institutions and earmark Rs 3,780 crore for a
multi-sectoral development plan for each of the 90 minority-concentration

Jammu & Kashmir, an Indian state, under the secular
dispensation is fast getting Islamized through state apparatus. More than 172
temples have been razed and Hindu properties have been illegally taken over by
neighbours. After a gruesome pogrom and forced exodus of Hindus, villages and
towns are being given Islamic names. Now, a bill has been introduced in the
J&K assembly by the PDP MLA Peerzada Manzoor Hussain proposing to change the
name of the historic Anantnag town to Islamabad. Local Muslim leaders are
already using it and even in some state government press releases Islamabad is
used in place of Anantnag.

There is a conscious attempt to erode
Indian presence in Kashmir. Few would know that officers of the Indian
Administrative Service and even those belonging to the Indian Police Service are
seldom given charge of a district. They are at best kept at the secretariat for
file work. The reason is, politicians decided that the local administration must
remain under local Kashmiri Muslims.

But none in Delhi is perturbed
by it.

Why is the Indian state in no hurry to create an atmosphere
that allows a Hindu lady to return to her home?

Why this hatred for
Hindus among people who belong to the same race and have a shared

If the jihad in Kashmir is the creation of Pakistan,
Pakistan is the creation of a precipitated hatred for

Sixty-two years ago there was no Pakistan. The people of this
part of the world were known as Indians. And one of the Indians said in March
1881, “No Mohammedan can say that the English are not ‘people of the
Book’. No Mohammedan can deny this: that God has said that no people of
other religions can be friends of Mohammedans except the Christians. He who had
read the Koran and believes it can know that our nation cannot expect friendship
and affection from any other people. (‘Thou shalt surely find the most
violent of all men in enmity against the true believers to be the Jews and the
idolaters: and thou shalt surely find those among them to be the most inclinable
to entertain friendship for the true believers, who say we are
Christians’. Koran, Chap. V.)

“Now God has made them rulers
over us. Therefore we should cultivate friendship with them, and should adopt
that method by which their rule may remain permanent and firm in India, and may
not pass into the hands of the Bengalis. This is our true friendship with our
Christian rulers, and we should not join those people who wish to see us thrown
into a ditch. If we join the political movement of the Bengalis our nation will
reap loss, for we do not want to become subjects of the Hindus instead of the
subjects of the people of the Book.” (Great Speeches of Modern India. Pp

The man who spoke these words was Syed Ahmad Khan, whom the
British knighted. He is better known as the founder of Aligarh Muslim
University. As vote bank politics gains in strength, he may one day get Bharat

It’s another matter that his speech didn’t see even a
hundred years of British consolidation and while 1947 saw a separate country
carved out of Hindustan on religious lines, 1971 witnessed the superiority of
culture over religion as the sole binding force with Bangladesh emerging on the
map, dissociating with its Islamic other half and getting freedom on cultural
lines that reflected more the colours of a Hindu India.

And the
Muslim world revolted against the Christendom, whom Sir Syed had so
affectionately called the people of the Book, and Osama bin Laden became famous
for organizing terror attacks on the United States and Britain. If Sir Syed
quoted the Koran to advocate the continuation of the British rule in India,
Osama’s people quote the same holy book to bomb the US and

Breaking all such divisive barriers a Pakistani
scholar-politician Aitzaz Ahsan has come out with his thesis of the “Indus
people”. He refuses to accept that Islam is Arabization and says Pakistan
can’t have an Arab or central Asian identity. The only identity that befits
Pakistan is an Indus identity. So he names the entire region of the present-day
Pakistan as Indus.

He says, “The Pakistani may not be an Indian, but
neither is he an Arab, a Persian or a Central Asian. The commonality of religion
with the Arabs, Persians and Central Asians is obvious, but commonality of
religion makes the Pakistani neither Arab nor Persian nor Central Asian. On the
reverse side of the same coin his so-called ‘un-Indianness’ cannot
make anyone oblivious to the several aspects in which the Indians and Pakistanis
share a common history, culture, language and racial stock. As I journeyed into
the distant past, it dawned upon me that ‘Pakistan’ had existed for
almost five and a half of the last six thousand years. Indus had seldom been a
part of India. (Preface)

‘Indus (Pakistan) has a rich and
glorious cultural heritage of its own. This is a distinct heritage, of a
distinct and separate nation. If the Pakistani were really reassured of this he
would be confident that there is no fear of any other country devouring or
destroying his state. And he would thus come out of the present-day
‘bunker-mentality’. (Pp- 11)

Does Aitzaz represent the
reverse of Sir Syed?

Can he make the people of Pakistan think what
makes them so hateful towards India? I just read a review of the book “Stranger
to History” by Atish Taseer, and he is quoted as being wounded by reflexive
anti-Indianism, which he encounters widely in Pakistan, and particularly among
the young. He laments the rejection he finds everywhere of a pluralist
subcontinental past, and is dismayed by the growing spread of a narrow version
of Islam.

Shouldn’t someone in Pakistan and in parts of India
where Islamic jihad against Hindus is getting support be thinking what creates
this acid?

Without getting into addressing some of the notions in
Aitzaz’s book that are not correct, I must say let’s build bridges
on the Indus theory. If a Pakistani feels so great about his heritage and
ancestry, it must be taken forward and shouldn’t be wasted. That may make
Pakistanis and Indian Kashmiri politicians understand that Hindus and Muslims of
this region are both Indus people. Insulting Hindus or driving them out of their
territory means insulting the common heritage, ancestry and blood. After all,
three generations ago Sheikh Abdullah’s family were Kauls.

An Indus
region, comprising the present Pakistan, India and Bangladesh and bound with
cultural threads and a commonality of ancestry alone can remove distrust and
animosity. This Indus region will be the strongest bulwark against a unipolar
world order and will be so self-reliant and powerful that it will work as a
great force of peace and harmony. Bloodshed that we see in Talibanism and
Kashmiri jihad begins with distrust, alienation and hate. Cultural affinities
remove such potholes. Basant celebrations, songs, language, marriage customs,
caste affinities, ancestry, geography, history, everything is already there.
Remember that Prophet Muhammad converted people in Arabia to Islam but never
asked them to change their names or costumes. Parvez, Omar, Rustam, Usman, Ali
are all pre-Islamic names drawn from Persia. So why should Islamists insist on
Arabic names for the those converted from this region? A Muslim with a Sanskrit
name, adhering to the Islamic path must also be allowed to enter heaven as much
as one bearing an Arabic name.

Islam has seldom been a uniting force
between countries that profess the faith as a state policy. No two Islamic
countries are friends or have ever helped each other in times of crises.
Pakistan-Afghanistan, Afghanistan-Iran, Iran-Iraq, the list goes on. On the
other hand, culture unites across borders.

Let Indus magic prevail.

(Tarun Vijay is director of Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research

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