logo Burngreave Messenger Issue 31 - May 2003.
Letters Page.

Dear Messenger,

I was interested and pleased to read the back page of the Messenger in March entitled ‘Celebrate our roots’ by the Sheffield Multiple Heritage Service which supports mixed-race Children and their families. I think it is an excellent idea to encourage young people to write and express their feeling, which in turn will raise their self esteem by feeling more positive about their heritage. I would like to congratulate young people from Firth Park, Firvale and Hinde House schools and all other individuals involved. Well done!

I would like to add that, as a second-generation Muslim from Kashmir, South Asia, I want to assert my ethnic roots. My own heritage is not being recognised by many institutions, and have to either declare that I am a Pakistani or Indian, but have always stated that I am a Kashmiri-Muslim.

The other frustration for Kashmiris is that they are told that since Kashmir is not an independent nation state, British Kashmiris cannot be recognised as such in the National Census. Yet several councils including Bradford, Luton and Pendle have already recognised the presence of Kashmiris in their areas.

Kashmiri journalist, Shams ur Rehman, wrote a stark warning in 1999: “While no serious conflict exists between Pakistani, Indians and Kashmiris over the Kashmir identity… the exclusion of the Kashmiri identity at official level is breeding a growing sense of resentment and anger amongst the rising number of British Kashmiris.”

British Kashmiris in Burngreave argue that they have distinct history, cultural heritage and language, and 99% of them speak Pahari/Mirpuri which is different from Urdu, Hindi and Punjabi which are recognised languages of British Pakistanis and Indians. Younger Kashmiri’s self esteem is greatly affected by the non-recognition of their roots and identity – the majority of teaching is biased towards Indian or Pakistani historical and cultural hegemony, which further alienates Kashmiris and reinforces the inferiority of their Kashmiri heritage. The only solace they find is in their religion of which majority are Muslims and hence share with other Muslims.

Many local authorities usually celebrate by making some sort of provision on the national, cultural and historical heritage of ethnic minorities – Kashmir history and culture is totally excluded and marginalised as ‘political’, whilst Indian, Jamaican, Pakistani and Bangladesh independence days are regularly celebrated. For Kashmiris 13th July and 4th and 24th October mark the true historical events that they can relate to.

Matloub Husayn Ali Khan.

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