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Resistance literature being weeded out of M.A. syllabus in Kashmir’s universities

Photo for representation

Srinagar: Two Kashmiri authors’ books are being removed from the M.A (English) curriculum of the State-administered University of Kashmir (KU) and the Cluster University Srinagar (CUS) as they are seen to be used for propagating a separatist mindset in the Valley.

India Narrative has learned from authoritative sources that the top echelons of the Government have taken exception to teaching of so-called ‘Resistance Literature’ at the two State-run Universities in Kashmir. Sources said that the advisors on education and curriculum have asked the authorities at the two universities to immediately stop teaching of literature that sustains a “secessionist mind-set, aspiration and narrative” in the politically sensitive Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

The objectionable books that are being deleted from the curriculum include Basharat Peer’s 2008 award winning conflict memoir “Curfewed Night” and the prominent Kashmiri-American poet-academic Agha Shahid Ali’s poetry collections being taught at the post-graduation level at the two universities.

Members of the Board of Studies, according to sources, have maintained that the books of the two Kashmiri authors had been prescribed at the instance of the two professors and heads of department of English at the University of Kashmir several years back. Both the faculty members, who have since retired, were known for their strong advocacy of Kashmir’s separation from India and “azadi.”

“Cluster University Srinagar has recently reframed the syllabus and replaced Agha Shahid Ali’s poetry in the MA English curriculum of its integrated course (3 year BA+ 2 year MA). Basharat Peer’s ‘Curfewed Night’ was not taught at CUS. The University of Kashmir authorities have been asked to drop the books of both the controversial authors from the syllabus”, said an officer.

Officers in the administration of the University of Kashmir said that the MA English curriculum was currently “under review”. They refused to confirm that the process had been initiated under instruction of the UT Government.

Sources in the KU administration said that Peer’s “Curfewed Night” as well as Agha’s poems “I See Kashmir From New Delhi”, Lenox Hill”, “Farewell”, “Postcard From Kashmir”, “In Arabic” and “The Last Saffron” are continuously taught in the M.A (English) programme.

While Agha’s poetry is not explicitly anti-Indian, Kashmir’s separatist ecosystem has hailed him as an icon of the ‘Resistance Literature’ and an “inspiration” for the valley’s pro-azadi younger generation. His poems “The Country Without a Post Office”, “Rooms Are Never Finished” and “The Rebel’s Silhouette” have been popular among the valley’s separatist population.

Forty-five-year old Basharat Peer is a journalist and author who also wrote the script for Vishal Bhardwaj’s year-2014 Bollywood film “Haider”. He worked as an opinion editor with The New York Times. He is the son of a retired KAS-IAS officer G.A. Peer who retired as a Secretary to Government in Jammu and Kashmir.