Now all Kashmiri girls flaunt their Drabu account

During the recent pro-azadi rally in Kulgam, JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik said PDP’s marriage with RSS is a dangerous thing for Kashmiris. Most of the people will agree to that. He also said something else: On the one hand they [PDP] are marrying RSS and on the other hand they are saying they have an extra-marital affair with Hurriyat. This is debatable.
Now that this marriage metaphor is much in vogue, let us talk about it.
If PDP-Hurriyat is an extra-marital affair then PDP-BJP is a legal marriage? And naturally, PDP and BJP can have coitus without any shame and produce as many babies as possible, even without bothering about diapers, as Mr Drabu has already made them tax-free.
But the problem is that since Kashmir is a culturally and politically conservative place, any baby born out of extra-marital affair would be a disgrace. So, it is always advisable to avoid picking up wrong numbers and flirting with dangerous guys.
Now let us turn to the budget 2015. Mr Drabu is a talented person. I have been hearing this rumour from many days now.  But after going through his budget it seems he really has some talent. For example he presented women-friendly things: Baby girls will get good money, some 6.5 lakh of it when they will turn 21 years old. This is a noble mission. But we cannot avoid imagining certain scenarios:
Scenario no. 1:
Girl: Daddy, please get my phone recharged when you come home.
Daddy: What recharge! [Father is angry because he is stuck in traffic jam at Pantha Chowk]. How much you talk on phone. I am recharging your damn phone every day. [He hangs up]
Girl: Hello, hello…
The girl’s face assumes a sad expression and she says with a sigh, “Wai Khudai kar gass bu akwu” (Oh God! When shall I turn 21!)
Scenario no. 2:
Woman: I think we should marry off Saima Jan after she completes her graduation.
Husband: What is the hurry?
Woman: She is turning 21 next month after that we can withdraw money from her Drabu account.
Husband looks at his wife with a sneering expression and says, “You women folk are half-brained! We will open a fixed account in JK Bank with that money at a 10 percent interest a year”.
Women: Oh! I didn’t realize that. It is a terrific idea. You are genius. [she pours another cup of nun chai to him]
Scenario no. 3:
Girl: Janu, I cannot live without you. If my parents say no to our marriage I will commit suicide. We have lot of pesticide at home [the product she is talking about has no connection with Altaf Bukhari].
Boy: Hahaha, paagal ladki. Suicide times are over. We will run away and live happily ever after on your Drabu account.
Girl: I think I am okay at my home [she hangs up in a huff].
Scenario no. 4:
Boy’s father: My son is a KAS officer. It is not sahaal kathh. He has yezath among neighbours and relatives. Your daughter is like my own daughter, whatever she brings with her will be for her own good.
Girl’s father nods courteously and says:  But 10 lakh is too big an amount for us to arrange.
Boy’s father: Hahaha! What are you saying! She must have that Drabu account? Doesn’t she? [Asks curiously]
Scenario no. 5:
A women and her daughter walks through their neighbourhood with big shopping bags. Two women from a distance comment in hushed tones.
Women A: Look at their bags they have bought a lot of stuff from Lal Chowk.
Women B: Hmmm [making a face], they must have spent from her Drabu account.
Scenario no. 6:
At a tuition centre a grumpy female cleric in black hijab asks a girl.
Cleric: Why didn’t you clear your fees yet?
Girl: Ma’am, daddy did not receive his salary yet.
Cleric: So what! [A glowering expression on her face] We are not your naukar here. Why don’t you withdraw money from your Drabu account?  What is that for, then?
Published in Kashmir Reader on 26.03.2014:

Exclusivity of the Descent

In his article “Casteism in Kashmiri Marriages” (Greater Kashmir, Feb 21) Mehboob Makhdoomi pointed out the proverbial elephant in the room long ignored in social and cultural debates in Kashmiri press. As expected it stirred up heated debate. On his Facebook post alone, the article attracted huge attention, pitching one school of thought against another, and by the last count there were over 230 likes, 150 comments, and some 35 shares. The topic is indeed worth to ponder over and analyze critically.

Let us talk about the matter, scientifically first. The whole idea of blood purity is a myth busted by many researches done on the subject. In 2008 scientists from University of Copenhagen came up with evidence refuting the claims of racial purity of Scandinavian people. Their study on a 2000 year old skeletons established that Scandinavians were very much genetically diverse than they perceived themselves.

Now let us turn to genomic (lineage) claims of the social group who like to call themselves as ‘Syeds’. In a study by Harappa Ancestry Project (HAP), it was found that Syed ancestry does not show “Syed modal haplotype”. By a general definition “a haplotype can describe a pair of genes inherited together from one parent on one chromosome, or it can describe all of the genes on a chromosome that were inherited together from a single parent”. According to Broad Institute research (USA) “These ancestral genomic segments are inherited as discrete units with little genetic shuffling across generations”. The HAP study found that Y chromosomes (which should be less diverse among Sayyids than in non-Sayyids) from sample of Sayyids from India and Pakistan dramatically exhibited same diversity as those of non-Sayyids. That means those who call themselves Sayyids, biologically, does not have common lineage. This study scientifically proves the common ancestry of Syeds as a myth.

There are people who still believe in this myth but, essentially, under this fixation on ancestry, and pure blood lay politics of power, legitimacy, and authority. Proximity of Peers or Syeds with religious and spiritual institutions (like shrines) lent them with a degree of social power that they preserved, consolidated, and made heritable. They became Mutawalis (caretakers/administrators) of shrines in Kashmir. The offerings that devotees brought in cash and kind largely went into their pockets, and it gave rise to a kind of family business.

If you visit the Makhdoom Sahab shrine you can see some people sitting on its carved wooden windows, perched there like spiritual salesmen offering a handful of sugaries and for-sale blessings in return of money. This is utterly manipulative but institutionalized practice. What should otherwise go for educational programs and social welfare of poor goes to their bottomless pockets.

Once I met a Mutawali inside Makhdoom sahib shrine. He turned out, unexpectedly, a progressive thinking one. He was upset with the whole Mutawali system and was lamenting how it has evolved into a big lucrative business, where every window of the shrine is auctioned. “Look at the Hindu shrine in Mata Vaishnov Devi” he said, “They have established medical colleges and educational institutions while here the big chunk of offerings is taken by mutawalis”.

There is another paradox here. The pathological misconception of self is well entrenched in caste Hindus – Brahmins. In “peer or syed” social groups’ claims of superiority is their perception of being beacons of enlightenment that brought Islam to Kashmir and rid it of malicious social practices of caste system associated with Hinduism. The same group, however, practices a subtler form of casteism itself and yet prides itself being progenies of the pioneers of Islam in Kashmir. This is the biggest irony of the fact, which makes the group point of ridicule among the general population.

Like Brahmins, this group also has its share of progressives who, educated in liberal universities around the world, do profess egalitarian ideas but when it comes to practically breaking from the prejudicial norms of intra-group matrimonial practices, they are not any different from Brahmin liberal hypocrites. In fact, in the general perception, caste Hindus (Brahmins) and “Peers” are the self-reproducing social groups who are looked at with a certain degree of contempt and suspicion. While in the case of the Brahmins it is scripturally sanctioned, the latter (Peers) cite and twist selective ahadith (sayings and actions of Holy Prophet S.A.W) to justify their position.

And how are you going to interpret it against the Last Sermon of the holy Prophet (SAW): “All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety (taqwa) and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood.” Furthermore, has holy Prophet (SAW) explicitly said anywhere that his lineage must be preserved by his descendants? How are you going to read this hadith then: “Indeed Allah has removed from you the blind loyalties of jahiliyyah and the pride for ancestry. Either be a pious believer or a miserable insolent. (All of) you are children of Adam, and Adam is from dust. Let some men cease to take pride in others, who are nothing but burning coal for the Hell Fire, it will be easier for Allah to handle them than a dung beetle driving his nose into filth” (Narrated by Abu Hurayrah , Ahmad, Abu Dawud).

After 1400 years the descendants of holy Prophet (SAW) must have reached millions in number and assimilated through spread of Islam in different cultures and even through inter-faith marriages (which did happen in many cases). This lineage must have mingled and transferred to non-Arabs, Non-Muslims also.
Even Queen Elizabeth II of England and many other European monarchs are said to have ancestral links with Holy Prophet’s family (via alliance between a Spanish princess and a Muslim). So is Queen Elizabeth II a “Sayyid” then? This may sound absurd or even outlandish but going by the same logic as presented by “Peers” she deserves a Sayyid title too by virtue of a link that can be located somewhere in Muslim Spain.

Over 15 million people in South Asia claim ancestral links with the holy Prophet’s tribe. Saudi Arabia’s real population is only 16 million. That means there are more people in South Asia (15 million) with claims of the ancestry than in the land of holy Prophet’s birth place!

To sum it up, there are certain questions you need to ask. Are adaab (good etiquettes) genetically transmitted or socially acquired? Are off-springs born from “Peer” blood “chosen people” (honorable) and others low in the rank! There are many people born in “Peer” families who do not believe in this fantasy of blue-blood but the problem is that they are not courageous enough to critically write against it or talk openly about it. The real change will happen the day a “Peer” will do what Marx did against Capitalism, Sartre against French Colonialism, and Simon de Beauvoir against male chauvinism. Till that happens I would say: you cannot have a cake and eat it too.


Published in Greater Kashmir on 07.03.2015:

The Portfolio Alliance of State

So, finally the “Alliance of Conviction” and much sought-after ministerial portfolios have become public now and our old azadi-boy-turned-something-something Mr Sajad is no more a lone wolf. He has joined the pack and we congratulate him as his Dil ki Muraad has been fulfilled. We want to tell him: Don’t worry, just keep Imran Ansari in good humour and your Quran kasamwali YouTube video nightmare will be sorted out soon. After all, IT minister would make good friends with Technology minister. I know we Kashmiris have a bad habit of name calling masquerading as humour, and it is bad that naughty Facebook jihadis have already started calling you Gabbi Manister, Wazeer-e-Pashu Paalan, and some even spread bizarre rumours that you will feature in Bollywood version of Doctor Dolittle and speak in British accent with animals. But you know all politicians get the same treatment, so better get used to it.
That foreign educated Sajad has assumed the charge of Mohakam-e-Science and Technology, it will be a great boost for Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Advanced Sciences who have been working on space exploration projects since 1975 Sheikh-Indira Accord. Very soon Kashmiri scientists will be able to send superior races of Kashmir to Mars on a one-way ticket. We heard from our sources (who monitor Kashmir) that many ministers have already booked tickets for their relatives. Our sources also informed us that Sajad has entered several book contracts with Random House and Oxford University Press to complete his Achievable trilogy: “Achievable Ministry” and “Achievable Tarangiri”.
We also heard that Naeem Akhtar has been rummaging through his old floppy discs and hard drives which contain his 1001 opinion pieces. Since he will be sorting out the mess called Mohkam-e-Education it wouldn’t be humanly possible to edit the whole content on hard drives, so a position is open for a proof-reader. Remunerations are high (weekly wazwaan at Papa II bungalow), and the work is also not much. You just have to replace the 72 pseudonyms with the single name and edit out anything politically incorrect.
Javid Mustafa Mir likes shopping on Flipkart, and we heard that he recently ordered life size pictures of old guy Mikhail Kalashnikov and Sylvester Stallone. These framed life size pictures will hung in his new office along with his own photo in which he has posed like a Rambo. We heard his mandate is to generate revenue for Kashmir and we think if Rambo can do anything, Javed too can do anything.
Now that our precious and dwindling forests have been handed over to Mr. Bali Baghat, we hope he is not allowed to do Qazi Afzal 2008 in any milli baghat. Lest, boys won’t take much time to jig on their favourite song Ragdo Ragdo.
To the chairman J&K Bank we want to say: stop worrying unnecessarily and take it easy. Mr Drabu has explicitly said: “Revenge is a dish best served cold.”
In the meantime, JKLF, Hurriyat (G), Hurriyat (M), and Hurriyat (et al.) have warned they will fight tooth and nail against nefarious designs of RSS and its collaborators in Kashmir, even if they have to talk to each other in compulsion.  Responding to the pro-resistance groups’ warning, the top police officials have assured that they have placed fool-proof security arrangements and nobody will be allowed to walk the talk. When asked about the threat posed by notorious Facebook and Tweeter jihadis, the police spokesman said, “We don’t give a damn!”
Meanwhile, few young enterprising Kashmiris have decided to set up ‘Forum for Advanced Research in Tarangiri Studies’. They will meet regularly on Facebook page named FARTS. On every other Sunday, the three-member executive council of FARTS will meet at Coffee Arabica to discuss who makes the best Cappuccino.
Published in Kashmir Reader on 5.3.2015.