I have heard that the life in the hell would be very tough, painful and torment. One punishment will be followed by another. There will be guards watching and patrolling the hell so that no body from the hell has relief and escape. The screams of the cursed will fall upon the deaf ears and nobody will be ready to listen and help. When I make an analogue between Kashmir and the hell, I feel no difference between the two, rather I see Kashmir the worst since it is practical and the hell is hypothetical.
In Kashmir (hell) people suffer irrespective of their socio-economic background. The cries go unheard and fall upon deaf ears. During the daytime protesters “watch and guard” the streets and don’t allow anyone to move even ailing are not allowed to have access to health care. During nights “security” forces don’t allow anybody to step out even they barge into houses to “avenge” the people. Both the parties (security forces and protestors) employ different means and methods to punish “violators”. Protesters don’t allow people to move even from one village to another. Sometimes they force the “violators” to chant anti India and pro-Pak slogans those who resist are dealt strictly with the volley of stones. On the other hand “security forces” punish everyone physically and sometimes even damage the property (vehicles, household etc). This is the way how they guard and patrol the hell so that “cursed” have no relief and escape. I am sure that hypothetical hell won’t be so pathetic and torment, the guards there won’t be so cruel and merciless.
It is more than a month now that Kashmir is burning and life is at standstill. According to local media reports more than eight thousand civilian got injured, near about seventy died and hunderends lost eye sight in the ongoing unrest. The rest of the population is in flames (in Kashmir/hell) and their screams go unheard. There are no traces of government and law and order especially in the rural areas of Kashmir Valley. Important entry and exit points and most of the streets in rural areas are fully in the control of unruled protestors. “Separatists” who come up with strike programmes and protest calendars even dance on the tunes of protestors.
The situation is worsening day by day and taking an ugly shape. Another generation of Kashmiris is being radicalised and becoming scapegoat. Interactions and observations suggest that situation in Kashmir is quite different from late 1980’s when young Kashmiris opted gun to challenge Indian rule over Kashmir. A large number of youth who opted for weapons had very humble socio-economic and educational background. They were almost unaware about the political past of the state. The “educated” lot who joined the militant ranks were either Jammaat ideologues or politically disgruntled or the both. The present generation is altogether different. They are literate and well aware of the past especially of the blunders which New Delhi has been committing since late 1980’s in Kashmir. Above all the strategies adopted by New Delhi to handle the Kashmir issue are proving counter- productive, children from the very birth witness killings, protests, processions, mishandling of the issue and bear the brunt of violence. From the age of five and six years misleading and communal readings too reach out to children through oral lore and propaganda. This is one of the reasons that children belonging to the age group of nine to sixteen years are very active in the present unrest. It gives sleepless nights and restive days to see children from the mentioned age group blocking roads and not listening to anybody. They dare everyone; challenge “security” forces and respond bullet, pellet and tear gas shells with slogans and stones. They sometimes even try to barge into army camps and police stations. I remember my childhood days; we used to flee the village along with elders even after listening that vehicles in army camp some eight kilometers away from our village are faced towards our village. Today people (mostly children and young) march towards army camps and police stations to give vent to their anger and frustration. A good number of populace tries to be aloof but they too are not spared. They are labeled Indian agents, traitors, anti movement, anti Kashmiri by protestors and rented mob, pro-Pakistanis, fundamentalists and what not by the state (army, police, crpf etc).
Many Kashmiris want to know what their crime is. They shout they are neither anti Indian nor pro- Pakistani. They are simply Kashmiri who lost their childhood and schooling to curfews, crackdowns, chugs, strikes and cross firings. Their youth disappeared in depression, disappointment and hopelessness and they are longing for nothing but peaceful and harmonious future for their kids.
It is very painful but worth to mention that last Friday when I offered congregational prays I rushed home hurriedly to escape from any possible trouble but was traumatised to hear my three years old son asking her mother that he will go for stone pelting. The case may not appear serious and worth to be mentioned to many but being a student of sociology and misfortune of being brought up in a conflict zone I think, it is really exemplary, serious and alarming. I sense how cruel and merciless I was to my parents. By virtue of fatherhood, I am able to understand how grave wounds I have inflicted to my parents when I was young and death was dancing in every nook and corner of Kashmir. I understand why they (parents) were not only surrendering before my every adamant but bearing every absurd act of mine. Perhaps, they did so to see me alive and not to provide any “reason” for me to join militants. Now I understand despite they desired me to prosper in my studies why they turned mute spectators when I burnt my books. I am sure besides their love and care, the peaceful childhood they had had determinant for their endurance and handling my nonsense and absurdity.
I cry! Can I too do the same? I am certain I cannot! Though I too love my son more than anything but I can’t prove myself to be like my parents as the childhood we had was different. I have been brought up in the environment which knew no tolerance, respect for teachers, neighbours and relations even for parents. More than two decades long conflict has negative impact on my attitude and mentality. I must acknowledge I am weak. I am intolerant. I never introspect and always try to identify the faults of others. I am and psychologically too weak, turns intolerant and violent over nothing.
I cry! The people of Kashmir cry! We cry for the future of our children. We cry in pain and agony but our suffering and misery goes unnoticed rather people pretend to deaf and blind. Our screams annoy our own brothers and sisters and we are looked down as damned and evil mongers.
A Kashmiri narrative very well narrates the state and agony of common Kashmiris; once upon a time there was a fisherman, starvation and misfortune had caught him very badly. One day his mother succumbed to misfortunes and hardships of life. The poor fisherman did not burry the corpse his mother and decided to sustain on the flesh of his mother. The people living nearby smelled “meat” and interpreted that fisherman was enjoying fried fish.
The fellow citizens while sitting in luxurious air-conditioned rooms watching Kashmiris participating in protests and stone pelting, most of which are mourning, funerals, or reaction to atrocities of “security” forces, do not look at these gatherings beyond anti India demonstrations. They curse, curb and labeled all Kashmiris as traitors, Pakistanis and what not.
What is happening in Kashmir and response to it from the rest of country is not different from the narrative. All the Kashmiris are like the fisherman who ate the dead corpse of his mother to survive and the fellow citizens are like the neighbors who mesmerized the event and “thought” he enjoyed fried fish.
Dr Fayaz Ahmad Bhat, presently crying from the hell (Kashmir). He is a student of Sociology, social activist and teaching Sociology at Government Degree College, Sumbal Sonawari, Jammu and Kashmir, India. He is an alumnus of Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.Dr Fayaz is working on new concepts and terms like mal-education, Hidden steering, self syndrome, Multi grade holding, Islamic lag, , Educational Shephered, Disappearance of daughters and Triple burden Emai: firstname.lastname@example.org