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Book on Kashmir's unsung heroes released

Srinagar, July 15, 2007:

Bouquet Cover
A book on ‘unsung heroes’ of Kashmir, Bouquet, written by eminent journalist and human rights activist Zahir ud Din was released at a function organized by the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) here this week.

Freedom fighters and eyewitnesses of the July 13, 1931 massacre, Mohammad Sultan Rangrez and Wali Muhammad Adil, who the author described as living ‘unsung heroes’ released the book at a ceremony that evoked a debate on the need to pen down Kashmir history from ‘victims perspective’.

With an aim of chronicling the contributions of Kashmir’s forgotten heroes, the 192 page book details contributions of 53 unsung heroes.

The work cannot be completed in one volume, Zahir ud Din said at the book release ceremony. A vibrant human rights activists Zahir ud Din is also the author of Did they vanish in thin air, a book on the enforced disappearances in Kashmir published in two volumes.

Like Zahir ud Din’s earlier works, the book assumes importance for being a rare historical document in Kashmir, where people complain of lack of knowledge about history.

“We are being taught about Indian history. We know about Bhagat Singh, but hardly anyone of us knows what our history is, who our heroes are,” said Bilal Ahmad, a political sciences student at the University of Kashmir.

The earlier works however dealt with the contemporary problem of enforced disappearances in Kashmir, and chronicled cases of people who were allegedly picked up by various security agencies but never traced.

Noted pediatrician and author of ‘Kashmir: a wounded paradise’, Dr Altaf Hussain said that Kashmir history was based on two versions; victor’s version and the victim’s version.

“We are being taught the victor’s version but victim’s version is based on truth, so it is incumbent on us to write victim’s (people’s) version of history,” he said.

Zahir ud Din’s work is an answer to the claims that Kashmir had not heroes of its own, Altaf added.

The author added that a full compilation of Kashmir’s heroes may take three or four volumes. The current volume also limits the inclusion of people until 1987. “The heroes after that period will be included in future volumes,” Zahir ud Din said.

Many of the 53 ‘unsung heroes’ included in the book come from the erstwhile Muslim Conference later rechristened as National Conference, headed by Kashmir’s first prime minister, Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah.

These people fought the autocratic Dogra rule along with Sheikh Abdullah, but refused to go along with him as he later went on forging accords with India ceding Kashmir’s independence, the author remarked.



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