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I have stopped watching the 24-hour TV news drama channels long back. However, yesterday, I switched on the TV and put on the news channels in the morning itself. I was anxious about the verdict in the Gurmeet Ram Rahim case. This additional interest in the case stemmed from the fact that all the action was centred in and around Panchkula, my Panchkula, and my parents had just relocated there around a week back, after my father’s retirement. My house in Panchkula is just 3-4 kms away from the High Court premises, and so I was overly worried about the situation there. All throughout the day and a few days prior to the day of the verdict, I was continuously warning my parents to not venture outside on any pretext whatsoever.

Gurmeet Ram Rahim was finally pronounced guilty, as many expected, and all hell broke loose. The massive deployments of all the forces in Panchkula could not prevent the death of around 30 people and the immense destruction of property and infrastructure that resulted in the aftermath of the verdict. Not only in Panchkula, which was affected the most, but in many places of Punjab and Haryana, there was loss of life and property. Even Delhi was affected. As I write this, the situation is under some control, but still remains tense. As far as my parents are concerned, they, thankfully, were not hurt and are safe.

Why is it that I chose to write all of the above? Of course everyone is aware of the above incident and all that transpired. And as far as my personal connection with the incident is concerned, why should anyone be interested in it? There is a reason though, behind why I felt like sharing all of the above.

As the drama was unfolding yesterday, and I was observing its impact on me because of my personal stake in the entire process, my thoughts suddenly drifted towards Kashmir. My parents were forced to stay locked up inside for some time because of the imposition of curfew. They had to stay without electricity for certain hours. We were all in a state of anxiety since a couple of days regarding the situation. As the situation came under some control towards late evening in Panchkula, we heaved a collective sigh of relief.

The state of affairs which Panchkula and my parents witnessed or will witness for probably not more than a week, is a constant for the people of Kashmir since decades. In fact, I would be wrong if I would be comparing this situation to the one in Kashmir, because what transpires in Kashmir is not comparable to anything else. Generations of Kashmiris are not even aware of what it may be meaning to lead a ‘normal’ life. The common people of Kashmir have only one identity – they are Kashmiris, from the day they are born till the day they die. By virtue of this one single identity attached to them, they are allowed to live only a ‘half-life’, if it can be called even that. The heavy presence of the police, para-military and armed forces that the people of Panchkula are witnessing for a few days, is the norm for the people of Kashmir, since decades. Their ‘normal’ lives consist of protest, bandhs, curfews, shut-downs, army, police, militancy, deaths, disappearances, murders, rapes, human rights violations and so on and so forth. And in the end, it is they who are the ones responsible for all this. Because their loyalties are misplaced. Because they aren’t aware that might is always right. Because they do-not understand that it was a different world where ordinary human lives mattered. The world has advanced beyond recognition. This is a world which has been built by ransacking the very earth that allowed it to exist in the first place. This is a world which is fascinated by lands and boundaries, the people that live and breathe on that land have long ceased to matter. This is a world concerned with GDP growth rates, Human Development Index has long back lost its significance.

But why is it that I should take the pains of even letting my thoughts wander so far off? Let the people of Kashmir live their fate. My concern should be limited only to myself and my family members. Till such time that they are safe, I am free to discuss and debate which political party is worse, how intellectuals are always biased in their criticisms, how the people of all the religions are always insecure, some because they are in minority and some because they are in majority, and so on and so forth. I am completely free to live all my identities, my religious identity, my caste identity, my class identity, my gender identity, and any other identity that I may be attached with. What I am not allowed to do though is to live my identity as a human being. That is one thing that is strictly prohibited in today’s world, and that is the only rule that cannot be violated.

Nivedita Dwivedi has done MA in Elementary Education from Tata Institute of Social Science. Blog at http://fromwordstovoid.blogspot.in

One Comment

  1. K SHESHU BABU says:

    Salute to the girls ( sadhvis) who were courageous to report their sufferings and rape by the godman! Salute to the journalist who exposed the rape incident and got it published andbwas killed due to his exposition! Salute yo the brother of the rape victim who was killed by the henchmen of the dera sachcha group!!
    And salute to the DSP police officer who stood by the girls side through out the investigation! And, not the least, salute to the court for pronouncing the rapist guilty for his offence in the face of all odds and political pressure from the right wing hindutva forces ….!