‘Here, in this place, they call it Hindustan, they call it Bharat’ I thought to myself as I approached the Indian border with Pakistan at the Wagha crossing to see the daily parade. Soldiers stomped their feat, Vande Mataram blasted through the loud speakers, as young girls ran with billowing Indian flags larger than themselves and the families shouted ‘Jai Hind’. I must have stood ten feet tall.
Ironically it was my British Government credentials that got me a seat closest to the border, yet it was because of the then British Government that the border was here at all.
Had my grandmother’s uncle not been busied bringing Hyderabad into the Union in 1947, leaving Kashmir to Nehru, there would not have been a divided Kashmir either. I’ve yet to meet an Indian who believes that that man, Sardar Patel, should not have been India’s first Prime Minister, instead of its first Deputy Prime Minister. The Sardar should have refused the Mahatma’s request to give the Premiership to Nehru.
I write to you after visiting the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistani Occupied Kashmir (PoK) and the Wagha border with Pakistan in Amritsar.
Thereafter I visited the offices of BJP President Rajnath Singh, days before the announcement that Narendrabhai Modi will their candidate for Prime Minister of India. For all those who fear a Modi Premiership – let me tell you what the inside of the President of the BJP’s office looks like.
There are no photos with world leaders, or large swastikas or gigantic OMs. It is not painted in saffron. It is a simple sparse office with a quote on the wall from Vivekandanda and one from former PM Vajpayee. There is a small altar for doing daily puja, as I have in my office, and do millions of Hindus throughout India. Is this what frightens the secular intelligentsia of India?
Let me tell you about the difference between India and Bharat. When I gave my speech in Bangkok last month to the World Economic Hindu Conference I referred only to Bharat, never to India.
In Bharat there is no line of control. In Bharat we look at the Himalayas of Kashmir and know for 5000 years without dispute, they are a part of Bharat. Governments invaders imperialists come and go but Hindustan is eternal. As Kennedy said ‘ich bin ein Berliner’ (I am a Berliner) so we say ‘I am a Kashmiri’ Before all of you this land was mine. By lineage this is my land. I claim it by birthright. This is my land. To those squatting upon the land of my Fathers. I claim it. By precedence this is my land. I claim it. Shame on you to desecrate the consecrated. My Gods live on this land. For the ashes of my Fathers and the temples of my Gods I claim it. All of us everywhere in the world who have suffered at the end of an invading sword or imperial pen, we are all Hindustani Kashmiris.
That is how we think in Bharat, in Hindustan. I don’t care to know how they think in India. I know that is how Narendrabhai Modi thinks too.
Alpesh B Patel