Kashmir and Sher-e-Kashmir: A Revolution Derailed

Parimoo, PL. D. (2012). Kashmir and Sher-e-Kashmir: A Revolution Derailed.

Ahmadabad: Chinar publishing. Pages 312+Viii, Price 600 INR.  

Reviewer: Adfar Shah

Author’s Introduction

Pyare Lal Dinanath Parimoo (P Parimoo) also writing under the name PL.D Parimoo and Peejip, was born in Srinagar and completed schooling and graduation from Srinagar before moving to Mumbai for training as a textile engineer. Since the beginning of his career, he mostly remained outside Kashmir but did his best to keep in touch with his roots and also to keep the traditions of Kashmiriyat alive in his home. As a part of his profession, he lived in Germany for several years and also travelled extensively across the world before shifting from a corporate culture to the arena of Historiography.

While his earlier book Kashmiryat at crossroads focused exclusively on the contemporary socio political history of Kashmir, his second book, Passion, power, perfidy highlighted the ancient cultural intercourses between Kashmir and other parts of the Indian sub-continent including Afghanistan.

Book Review:

‘Kashmir and Sher-e-Kashmir: A Revolution Derailed’ is PL. D. Parimoo’s dense work based on his extensive exploration of historical literature, is actually a narrative of Kashmir’s prolonged suffering and amidst that rising of an avatar like a bright star to revolutionize the bruised landscape. Parimoo dives deep into Kashmir’s political history but tactfully, thereby pioneering a new approach to the study of Kashmir politics via his comprehensive commentary on political and social history since Sheikh’s rising as an active and transforming political player.

The book is composed of fifteen massive chapters describing various interconnected themes and appears more a fine chronicle of critical and turbulent events that occurred since 1931 to the recent past like the Amaranth land row in 2008. The book starts with author’s description of Sheikh’s being born as a leader and unfolds a narrative in detail of the saga of sufferings that Kashmiris faced throughout the turbulent history. Also the author maintains a fine balance between the themes on Kashmir’s political happenings and role played by the Sher-e-Kashmir, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah. Author’s discussions on almost all significant happenings, protests, accords, treaties, etc, in Kashmir politics and society reflect his keen interest in Kashmir and her history.

The foreward though very brief is much interesting and written by the famous scholar and Sufi mystic, Prof. Fida Mohammad Hasnain, who hailing Parimoo’s work has beautifully carved out a description on Kashmir from his mystical bent of mind believing that Kashmir has been a unique landscape and a birth place of Mahayana Buddhism, Kashmiri Shavism, Rishism and praises Kashmiri scholarship, architecture and rich culture.

Parimoo in his very introduction of the book, describes Sheikh as, ‘The most misunderstood personality of the past millennium, who happens to be the father of Kashmir’s socio-political awakening, remains a controversial personality until today as he was during his own eventful life time’. He himself calls his work as the sketch of a tranquil society that was jolted out of its slumber in 1930s, he compares the situation of 1930s with a strong earth-quake and compares the afterwards chaos and political uncertainty to the aftershocks of an earth quake. He is right for the seed of State’s political instability and social chaos were sown much earlier and today the State is simply witnessing the aftershocks and the fallouts of the past suppressed dissent voices, political errors, leadership crisis and turbulent calm.

Author’s detailed description of Kashmir’s revered; towering, undisputed and charismatic leader Jenab Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah is a benefitting reply to Sheikh’s critics who simply treat Sheikh as a crowed puller and a motivating orator only or call his struggle as mere “Siyasi Awara Gardi” (political wilderness). Sheikh commonly christened as Sher-e-Kashmir or Babb (father) has been beautifully described by Parimoo as the game changer in the history of Kashmiri society, who mobilized masses to fight for their rights and dignity. He argues that Sheikh was born centuries after the great king Lailtadatya and Sultan Zainul Abideen commonly known as Budshah and it was a long wait for Kashmir to wait for him after the Sultan Budshah. Leaders are not born every day and as per Parimoo, the leader like Sher-e-Kashmir brought considerable, unforgettable and badly needed changes in the lives of suffering Kashmiri masses despite controversies and uncertainties in his own political career. Sheikh proved himself an avatar in the lives of enslaved people who were tortured by tyrannical Dogra regime and enforced into begaar,-unpaid labour. Sheikh gave land to the tiller and released generations from the shackles of subjugation, humiliation, exploitation and poverty.

Parimoo throughout the book is all praise for Sher-e-Kashmir. He argues that Sheikh succeeded in his mission and that is why enormous trust was vested in him by masses. He rightly quotes people’s slogan for Sheikh, like, “Ala Kari Ya Waangan Kari-Sheikh Kari, Sheikh Kari” meaning, ‘whatever needs to be done (decided) Sheikh will do! Sheikh will do! Not only this, certain other slogans of trust and love were chanted by public the then reflecting Sheikh’s familiarity, i.e.

Yee Babas khush kareh tee kareh lo lo” meaning whatever the Sheikh-father of the nation wishes, he will do that or let him do that. Also people used to chant his quotes as slogans like,

Sher-e-Kashmir sund kya Irshaad – Hindu Muslim Sikh ittihaad, meaning, ‘what is Sheikh’s principal or order, just communal harmony and cooperation’. Such was the absolute degree of trust of Kashmiri masses on Sher-e-Kashmir. People also mockingly used to call him Oulveh Babb (father of potatoes) for his advice to masses to eat potatoes even than to rely on outsiders and for his concern about State’s lack of self reliance and huge liability on the State by then.

People also chanted slogans and praised Sheikh on his dissolving the Plebiscite Front and forming the National Conference, the praise slogan was:

“Maha’az Rai Shumaree Baren Dubass

Oulveh Babbas Mubarak”

(Sheikh buried the Plebiscite Front, Congrats to the Potato father)

Author giving a religious tone to Sheikh’s being born as a leader to free people of atrocities and bring emancipation among Kashmiri’s, quotes Holy Bhagwat Gita and treats Sheikh’s birth as a  leader not less than appearing of an avatar. He writes, (though not mentioning the exact reference page from the Holy Scripture):

“Yada Yada hi Darmasey Glanir Ghvtu Bharata

Adhbhiuv Thanam Adharmasey,Tadatmanam Sujamiham”

(Whenever the sufferings of the people go beyond the limits of tolerance and civilized behavior. God almighty sends his avatar to rectify the situation).

Despite his towering leadership, it is believed and reported that the Sheikh addressed people’s atrocities and brought social transformation considerably, when he was the Prime Minister (1947-1953) but as critics argue that in the capacity of a Chief Minister later in1975, he could not deliver as expected and deliberate amply upon the public sufferings and woes like the rising educated unemployment and the price of food grains, etc,.

Parimoo also eulogizes Naya Kashmir Programme as Sheikh’s political philosophy, where as critics’ call it his political stunt and not supporting Muslims in riots was because the Jammu Muslims were supporters of the Muslim Conference. Also amidst much lauding of Sheikh’s dream of Kashmir, the new generation of Kashmiri society still wonders about what was Sheikh’s dream exactly and who will materialise that and when? Parimoo’s work removes much dust from these mental uncertainties and queries to a greater extent.

Though the work is not highly academic in style, however Parimoo is a big gun in paraphrasing the historical, cultural and political accounts of Kashmir not just eloquently but tactfully also, because of his expertise due his consistent writing on Kashmir and his profound interest in the subject and place as well. His use of authentic sources makes his deliberations equally valid and makes it more academic while his deliberations on Sheikh makes him a skilled artist, an ardent fan of Sheikh who knows how to dip his pen in the ink without creating any controversies. Further his reliable and strong arguments with a simple narration make him a good analyst, which he unquestionably is.

Parimoo believes that Sheikh was a charismatic leader and even praised by his enemies. His politics can be criticized and he can be described as a failed politician, however he is unparallel in his social intervention, reforms, social change in Kashmir, being a towering personality, his immense work for the down trodden and even his vision and charisma is sufficient to make him what he has been and what he still enjoys among the majority of Kashmiri’s.

Parimoo gives a historical though not much detailed account of all the important political and social events since 1930 up to the present Chief Ministers office, reflecting his keen interest in Kashmir’s political happenings. His book justifiably bridges the gap between the historical political happenings and the political events happening today for he has been successful to maintain a functional link between leadership crisis in Kashmir and the socio-political chaos before and after Sheikh.

This book would serve as one of the best researched accounts of political history and the narrative of Kashmir’s political turbulence and leadership crisis. Also the book has objectively highlighted Sheikh’s contribution to empower the Kashmiri masses. Historically, it would serve as one of the most referred works in understanding the Kashmir plight, the legacy of leadership crisis and the role of Sheikh in saving Kashmir and proving the great son of the soil.

Parimoo’s excellent work is factually correct be it his description of accords or portraying the Kashmir chaos since 1930’s, etc, however his interpretation of Sheikh’s rule as a politician, as P.M, as C.M or as a leader may differ from many who deem Sheikh as an undisputed leader but a failed politician. Critics also claim ambiguity in Sheikh’s vision that Parimoo dedicates this whole treatise to address. Parimoo’s description about Sheikh, is more neutral however leaves the choice to the readers to judge Sheikh’s leadership and reigns, most of whom (readers/critics) believe that Sheikh was not totally an unbiased leader for he believed in the dichotomy of Sher (lion) and Bakra (goat) rivalry and politics upon it.

Parimoo’s understanding of Sheikh’s forthright philosophy, transparent political statements and honest projections is highly objective however debatable. He has not ignored the Sheikh’s critics in the whole discourse but tried his best to deliberate upon their doubts and miscalculations.

More than anything the book has a beautiful and apt title, Kashmir and Sher-e-Kashmir: A Revolution derailed. Parimoo is sure that the revolution to curb exploitation and bring empowerment to masses alike started by the Sheikh has lost the track perhaps forever. He gives a reason for that also and that is the constant leadership crisis after Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and the dearth of able leaders like him have marred the much needed revolution, so cherished and started by the Sheikh Sahib himself. He is also confident that Sheikh’s legacy has not been carried forward in a right perspective and that is why the revolution got derailed.

This book is worthy of reference for the students of political science, Kashmir history and sociology, besides being a lucid and jargon free narrative on Kashmir and Sher-e-Kashmir for the general readers. The work is too simple in writing and Parimoo out of his long expertise in writing arena has knowingly avoided difficult prose that makes him a reader friendly writer, especially in Kashmir. The chapters are so simple that the whole book can be easily understood in one reading. Parimoo’s work is perhaps more clear and simplest in writing perhaps than all other works on Sheikh Sahab thus far. Just the price of the beautiful paperback version with best print and paper quality is a little high (600 INR) for student readers. The book is a blow to the Sheikh’s critics, negative politics and breaking a plethora of stereotypes and false generalizations on Kashmir and Sher-e-Kashmir in general. Indeed a rhetoric free work by P. Parimoo.

 (Adfar Shah is a Doctoral Candidate of Sociology at Jamia Millia Islamia, Central University, New Delhi. Mail at adfer.syed@gmail.com).



    It is a mind blowing book. But to a certain extent I do feel that, Sheikh submitted to the circumstances.

    Perhaps a philosophy was behind it. But there are many questions which needs to be answered.

    But bottom line this book is an eye opener.


  2. adfar Shah /

    Sheikh never submitted that is why he went to jail.Infact it was a great deception game.
    two things went very wrong in South Asia
    one was partition of Hindustan and the other Kashmir’s accession to India.

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