Of Gods, Men & Militants

Linked with our presentations of Kundan Lal Chowdhury MD – India / Kashmir, and of The Shirya Bhatt Mission Hospital, Jammu.
by Dr. K. L. Chowdhury.

Kashmir – the land of snow-capped mountains and lush green valleys; the golden land of breath-taking beauty – torn asunder by the intermittent booming of guns; the exoctic flower-carpeted expanses dyed a deep, dull red. This is how the author sees his beloved homeland and his cries of anguish echo through these pages:

Indeed, the tumult of the exiled Kashmiri Pandits can never be stilled as long as the guns refuse to be silenced and brother fights brother with hatred that is fanned by vested interests.

With the pain and nostalgia writ large in every heart-rending poem, there still emerges a glimmer of hope that peace will prevail and his misguided brethren will lay down their arms and resolve to study war no more.

The valley of Kashmir is fabled for its unique and many-splendored beauty. Over its long history it has suffered many upheavals and political turmoil, yet it had nurtured a resilient society with communal harmony and amity between minority Hindus- the Kashmiri Pandits and the majority Muslims. Despite relentless pressures from extremist groups and the machinations of external enemies, this harmony seemed largely intact in the post-independence era until about 1989. Then malevolent and violent desecration of Kashmir and its people was started by terrorists in a big way leading to the mass exodus of Kashmir Pandits from the valley south to other states and towns of India. The violent terrorist onslaughts continue to this day.

This book of poetry gives expression to the intense hurt, sadness, disappointment, shock and disillusionment of a whole community. Only a son of the soil like Kundan Lal Chowdhury, could provide the right voice for these emotions and thoughts. There are several reasons for this and these include his family background, his upbringing as a Kashmiri Pandit in a Muslim locality, his training as a medical doctor, his courage , the trust he inspires as a healer and his gift of communication .

A deeply sensitive poet with a great reverence for nature and the culture of his people, Kundan Lal Chowdhury has lived through and witnessed the rise of militancy, the exodus of Kashmiri Hindus from the valley, the destruction of the composite culture as well as the degradation of the environment and the ecology of Kashmir. Of Gods, Men and militants chronicles the pain suffered by Kashmiris as militancy took hold.

His unique perspective is a consequence of the immense love he has for the place and the people as well as his faith and pride in our timeless heritage in a land of saints and rishis.

In this anthology, the individual poems evoke the dominant emotions and frame the questions about our behavior and relationships as a commentary on the vulnerability of the human condition. The book is not a political tract nor does it seek to intellectualize the issues arising from the upheaval , deception, cruelty and hypocrisy displayed by individuals and groups on others. As a healer, the poet knows only too well, however that concern for the victim , the patient is not enough; an acknowledgement of the invader, his processes and operations are vital for understanding and dealing with the disease or malady. (Read more on Kashmir News Network).

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