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Educating Indians on Kashmir through Comics


Cross-posted from my Kashmir Blog.

If you know a Kashmiri who you would, just out of common courtesy, ask a question about Kashmir, a simple 'Aur Aaj Kal Waha Kay Halaat Kaisay Hai?' but then end-up praying to your God may guy please drop dead because he wouldn't just shut up going on and on about Kashmir until you have learn't by heart all the clauses and sub-clauses in article 370 and the exact chronology of  signing of the Instrument of Accession, before you even get a chance to offer your sympathies or apologies, leave alone a solution, that there, that crazy Kashmiri guy with possible terrorist looks, would have been me. Back when I was in college, the ignorance of Indians about Kashmir infuriated me and like any other good Kashmir, I took upon the charge of educating Indians about the real Kashmir. I became the resident Kashmir expert of the college, of Chai ki Dukan, of Cinema Hall, of train, of bus.  You could ask m anything you want but the problem was that a question asked at around 11 P.M. would often end-up in a session lasting till 5 A.M., with at least last 2 hours of the session often ending-up with me talking to myself. After a few such sessions with Indians from all corners of the country, I soon learnt that there are basically two type of Indian listeners to 'Kashmir Ki Kahani'. First Type, Sympathizers: those who mean good, who do want to know it all, but because of reasons beyond their control, can't stay awake beyond 11:30 P.M.. Note to self: the story has to be short, precise, not too much details but juicy all the time. Second Type, Antagonizers: they just want in on dirty details. These otherwise normal human beings on usage of some specific keywords like 'Muslims', 'Islam', 'Pakistan', 'Hindus' transform into raging chimpanzees from Space Odyssey, even maybe a bit more advanced because at times they actually beg to be deliberately fed these magic words. I once was made to tell the story in a  train. Ten minutes into the story the guys cut me off, 'Yaar, Maza Nahi Aa raha'. Why? Because not enough people were dying in the story (and I had only told them about exploits of Lalitaditya yet!). I made another note to self: Some Indian have seen and known much more violence than Kashmiris, your stories won't move even a hair inside their ear, not unless your Kashmir story involves a neutron bomb accidently going off in Kangri of a Kashmiri terrorist who was going to bring it to Delhi, and the blast taking out entire Kashmir and half of Pakistan, problem solved. But how many nuclear explosions can one have. But, I did not lose hope in humanity I continued to bore people with stories of Kashmir. And just so that Kashmiris don't feel left out I even started a blog to bore Kashmiris with stories of Kashmir. This blog. Do you realize the efforts it takes to bore Kashmiris with Kashmir story. Ask me. It became such an effort that I forgot all about educating Indians.

But that was until a couple of months back when Sumit Kumar e-mailed  me to inform that it was an old post of mine that led him to Andrew Whitehead's 'A Mission in Kashmir' which went on to be one of the sources for his comic take on events around 1947 in Kashmir, the freakishly funny Kashmir Ki Kahani Part - 1. Part 1 involved story about the genesis of the problem. Part 2 was going to be about rise of Sheikh Abdullah. He asked me if I could help him a bit with that. A chance to mess with...eer... re-educate the two type of Indians about Kashmir in an entirely fun new way. I was in. What followed was a series of emails on the subject.

The result: wickedly funny (and educative at the same time) Sumit Kumar's Kashmir Ki Kahani - Part 2 here. Do check it out!

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P.S.

R.K Laxman's caricature of Sheikh Abdullah that went on to be the base model for Sheikh in this comic.

Comments

  1. Being from the North East, I too used to be infuriated with the vague knowledge most of my peers at college had about the North East.

    Unlike you, I didn't go and spread the light because, being from Assam, I sadly had very little clue about the other states.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yep! I don't think North-East is gonna get a comic of its own anytime soon. How much are mainlanders going to learn :) Frankly I have come to loath conflicts for the simple reason that it forces people to remember too much history. And this rememberence is often so partial and so biased that they serve no purpose.

    And this reminds me I once bored the shit out of a Assamese guy too with my JKLF stories...the guy tried to match with his ULFA stories but it was a no match, he just didn't know why he was sharing stories.

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  3. For those who found the Patel Rap in the comic funny, here's a work called 'THE 1947-48 Kashmir War The war of lost opportunities' by a Pakistani Army Man in which, among other things, he bemoan the fact that Pakistan didn't have an Iron Man of their own. Read it at archive.org here.

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  4. When I was in school, I remember reading the exploits of Lalitaditya in Amar Chitra Katha. That, Nehru, and the film Kashmir ki kali were my only introductions to Kashmir for a long time. I must confess that this is perhaps still the case--I need to rectify that and dig deeper. BTW, I wondered if you could break up your write-up into paragraphs so that it is easier for the reader? It was a little straining on the eye.

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  5. It is written in the way I conduct my Kashmir sessions...straining :)

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  6. I just remembered Naagraj's first adventure was in Assam. And I read Sumit plans to bring out a web-comic on North-East too. [TOI link]

    ReplyDelete

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