Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Kashmiri Shawlwallah

By Manuwant Choudhary

A few days before Afzal Guru was hanged two Kashmiris came to my house and they were shawlwallahs...dealing mainly in pashminas and embroideries.

Of course, they were not interested in me....but I was curious to understand what brings them to Bihar.

I was surprised when they told me before them their father would come to Patna with the pashminas and in the British times their grandfather would...

They knew more about Patna than I did.

Even my family members..where they lived..who is unwell..who is interested in their shawls and who is not...who has left Patna...and also who has inherited the properties after someone has passed away.

And more.

If I was the Comptroller & Auditor General of India I would just hire them to find out the corruption levels in a state.

Like they told me how they have just sold shawls worth 1.5 lakh rupees....."Saheb, there is a lot of money in Patna..."

But they added that they still prefer the old Bihar where people came from decent families and recognised art when they saw one...

"There are shawls in Patna which are more than 100 years old and I am willing to buy them back for 15 lakh rupees.."

He showed me how to test a pure pashmina...pushing it through a ring....he also showed how it was easy to fool people who do not know about Pashminas....

I wondered whether they would have been able to do business this way if Kashmir was an independent country.

I also thought about Afzal Guru..what motivated him to drop out of medical education....get training from the jihadis..and help Pakistanis  attack the Indian parliament.

I am against capital punishment and I wish they were abolished not because I want the terrorists to live but because I believe the state killing someone does not really help.

We must really be a peace loving people if we want violence to end.

Not like the fatwas being issued in Afghanistan and Pakistan against `suicide missions' which says that killing even one Muslim is like killing the entire Muslim world (but what about those who are not Muslim?)

But the shawlwallah told me something I had not heard from a Kashmiri, "Saheb, the real problem is not Kashmir....the real problem is the partition of India..."

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