Sunday, August eleven, marks the hundred beginning anniversary of the late freedom fighter Rajbans Krishen Khanna, director of many award-winning political documentaries, including Gautama the Buddha, which had gained the President’s Gold medal in India and a nomination and Special Mention for Best Director on the Cannes Film Festival in 1957. In 1947, Khanna was invited by Sheikh Abdullah to assist in rebuilding the employer of the National Conference. In October that 12 months, while Pakistani invaders crossed over into the kingdom, he became a Commander in a Kashmir militia and, later, a chairman of the Kashmir Cultural Front, tasked with setting up writers, poets, and artists to inspire the people of Kashmir.
Khanna, who had been with the Communist Party of India in Lahore and then Kashmir, made films in Bombay but maintained his courting with Kashmir, making numerous documentaries with The Story of Kashmir and The Rivers Will Not Forget. Throughout all of this, he held an active correspondence with Sheikh Abdullah. Below are excerpts from a letter written in 1980, which expresses alarm about the growing communalism concentrated on the nation and Muslims. Ever since the disastrous communal riots at Moradabad, I have been questioning how distressed and shocked a person like you must be to peer that even 33 years after Independence, we have not been able to attain the spiritual tolerance and communal harmony that you have fought for the ultimate 50 years; for which Badshah Khan struggled with all his might, and for which Gandhi Ji laid down his very lifestyles.
The cause of our failure on this essential subject lies, I suppose, within the truth that we have allowed our educational establishments all around the United States to be penetrated with communal poison. Nevertheless, our colleges and textual content books give a completely fake and distorted photo of history, which the British imperialists passed right down to us, a fake and baseless image of Hindus and Muslims combating continuously towards one another and making no try and stay in harmony and peace. The truth, as you know and I recognize, is just the alternative: The truth is that the place Islam went, the Muslims followed the customs of the local people, the language of the area people, the culture, the traditions, and even the dress of the local community. The Western Christian “civilization” tried to impose its alien lifestyle forcibly on the area people to wreck the indigenous tradition with force. On the other hand, the Muslims blended harmoniously with the area people, enriched the neighborhood cultures, and lived as real and devoted citizens of the countries where they had settled. Muslims did this in India, Africa, Central Asia, and even Indonesia.
Indeed, so wealthy are the records of the contribution that Muslim saints, Muslim pupils, and Muslim kings made to conform to a unified and harmonious tradition in India; so inspiring are the records of the Muslim heroes who fought shoulder to shoulder with their Hindu brethren for the freedom in their motherland, that it’s far tragic that we do now not provide this actual image of our not unusual history to our kids, and nonetheless permit their minds to be poisoned by using the distorted records which the British have left in the back of. I assume that the time has come when Sheikh Abdullah should make a decisive and lasting contribution to this pressing and important venture. I suggest that Sheikh Abdullah and his authorities must immediately set upSher-i-Kashmir Centre for National Integration.”
I am suggesting the name “Sher-i-Kashmir” for this Centre due to the fact I want human beings all over India to not forget Sheikh Abdullah for the ideals for which he has fought and suffered all his life – the dreams of Hindu-Muslim solidarity of religious concord and secularism; an apostle of the real teaching of Islam, which teaches recognize for all religions, commonplace brotherhood, and democracy. Sura II – 136 of the Koran, which I studied in Allana Yusuf Ali’s translation in Lahore many decades ago, comes to my mind:-