Book on Ved Bhasin

Humra Qureishi

The veteran Jammu based journalist Ved Bhasin passed away exactly a year ago. But even right now as I am keying in I can recollect his stark views on the Kashmir situation together with his views on the situation in the country. There was that earnestness with which he spoke which made a great impact. There was a gentle smile playing on his face even when he was dealing with his harshest critics. Nah, no aggressiveness, and none of those hysterical shrieks and not a trace of rudeness.

He wouldn’t dilute his stand and nor his views-viewpoints, swimming against the tide till the very end. Needless to add that the going must have been riddled with hurdles, yet this man never gave up. In a journalistic career spanning almost seven long decades, he had been writing, exposing the facades of political mess in Kashmir. He came across as one of those fearless men focused on the ground realities, aware of the build-ups and of backdrops.

Now as the  first volume of Ved Bhasin’s selected works is published by his daughter, Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal, it is absolutely relevant to highlight Ved Saab’s views on the enduring crisis in Jammu and Kashmir and the possible “solutions” that could bring a sense of ease for Kashmiris. Quoting his views from this volume, “Clearly the policy of suppression pursued in Jammu and Kashmir since 1990 has not succeeded to eliminate militancy, much less to crush popular unrest or bring back the people to the national mainstream. The bullet for bullet policy with untold human rights violations has proved counter-productive…Unless the root cause of militancy and the people’s disenchantment with India is tackled no worthwhile and lasting solution is possible. Primarily, it is a political problem which cannot be tackled with armed strength by dealing with it as simply a law and order problem. A political solution that could satisfy the urges and aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir living in all regions and areas and belonging to all faiths and communities that could also be eventually acceptable to India and Pakistan is called for …J&K is not just a piece of land that it should be divided between India and Pakistan. It is the people who constitute Jammu and Kashmir…Any solution based on status-quo, geographically and politically and constitutionally, cannot be considered rational and realistic and will not be acceptable to the people who have risen in revolt.”

How I wish Ved Saab had written his autobiography, as he was no ordinary observer of the Kashmir region and its inhabitants. He was concerned about the rights of the Kashmiris. In fact, the few times I could get to interact with him, during his visits to New Delhi, he’d speak about human rights violations, heaping untold miseries on the hapless. All these years he had been writing for the rights of the people of the Kashmir region. And as Anuradha writes about her father in the foreword to this volume, “A subject closest to his heart was peace. Peace to him was not silencing of guns or calm but peace with justice, peace which was people-centric and would enable the most marginalised and the poor to reap its dividends. My father was a thorough humanist, not because he believed in peace but because he sincerely practiced it in his day to day life, nursing no malice or contempt for people opposed to him or people who were not so intellectually strong. He had the ability to carry along with him people, even his worst critics and that made him special.”

 Amongst the many tributes paid to him, stand out these lines of veteran journalist Mohammad Sayeed Malik which tell the very crux of Ved Bhasin’s personality, “The most remarkable thing about Vedji was that his extraordinary popularity never went to his head. Nor did his professional, intellectual attainments take him away from the lives of ordinary folk with whom he remained emotionally attached…Vedji launched his Kashmir Times not as commercial or business venture but as the mouthpiece of his mission. Through it he gave voice to the deprived and depressed. He lived and struggled to keep it that way.”

And I cannot end this piece without quoting Anuradha…lines which tell  so much about her father , “When I was about six or seven years old, in my innocence after hearing friends in school speak about religions and Gods they believed in, I asked him what he believed in. He said, ‘I believe in you.’ It was much later that I understood the importance and significance of those words. He had grasped the true meaning of humanism - belief in people and the goodness of people.” Book: Vedji & His Times - Kashmir: The Way Forward. Selected works of Ved Bhasin Volume 1  Edited by Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal, Published by Kashmir Times Publications, Jammu, 2016