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Sach Toh Yahi Hai – Book on Life in Jammu & Kashmir before Article 370

Archaic Laws like the Article 370 and 35A in Jammu and Kashmir had more negative effects on the lives of the people of the state than positive impacts. In August 2019, central govt in New Delhi abolished these articles and this came as a relief for many people in J & K and also all over India.

Asha Naithani Dayama, an author and academic was one of the so many relieved person all around and her latest book based on the lives of residents of Jammu & Kashmir she has penned on the lives of people in J & K before the removal of Article 370 was released at Sardar Patel Institute of Technology by iconic santoor player and Padma Shri awardee Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma. Also present were other dignitaries, choreographer Puneet J. Pathak, music composer Ustad Taufiq Qureshi and Dr. Dayama’s daughter, actor Yashaswini.

The book, titled Sach Toh Yahi Hai, is a collection of eight short stories in Hindi that attempts to put forth the effect of the imposition of Articles 370 and 35A on the lives of people in the State. Dr Asha says, “What I have written is not history, but talks about the aspect of Jammu & Kashmir which have not been spoken about in the world of literature. I have visited and lived with these people and from my personal experiences, I feel relieved that India got rid of an archaic law which was supposed to be temporary in the first place.”

Pandit Shiv Kumar, who hails from Jammu, said he could relate to the stories as described in the book. “The book is very reflective of what I have seen people go through before I left Jammu in the 1960’s,” he said. Dr. Dayama said assigning a special status to Kashmir never bore any practical results. “The people who had migrated from West Pakistan could not acquire any property and were living the same anxiety they went through during the Partition even 70 years later. It is ironic how the refugees were acknowledged as citizens by the Indian Government, but were denied Permanent Resident Certificates (PRC) by their own State,” she said.

She narrated various injustices suffered by the Valmiki Dalit and Gorkha communities of Kashmir. “My interaction with these communities showed me the helplessness they felt. The Valmiki Dalit community was invited by the J&K government to work as sweepers, but was denied PRCs. The same happened with the Gorkhas, who had been living in the State since 1816,” she said.

Dr. Dayama said the State had also shockingly denied rights to women who had a PRC, because it came with a clause saying it was ‘valid until marriage’. “It was heartbreaking to see women being denied their rights if they chose to marry someone from outside J&K. It was my curiosity about the situation and the plight of the people, who have been pawns for political games, that moved me to write this book.”

We at Exablogs had a tough time finishing all the eight short stories, as every story made us emotional. Each story was so nicely written as if the reader was living through the era and goes through the scenes as if happening to himself.

We hope that the incidents narrated in the book will go into memories as a nightmare from Partition era, and the recent abolishing of the unwanted Articles will help restore peace and prosperous life in the valley.

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