Nameless Heroes: The Untold Tale of Everyday Sufferers
By Qazi Shibli
02 December, 2015
The catalyst for what I write now – for helping people and causes do less Good Work and more Great Work – came when I rediscovered a scrap of paper in my subconscious self. It was a photocopied page from a memory of the past and it suddenly crystallised what I was trying to do. It was one of those moments when “inspiration is when your past suddenly makes sense and you feel proud of it.
But that makes it sound like one flash of light and ta-da! it’s all sorted out. But more accurately for me, the entire process was much closer to those beautiful sand mandalas you see Tibetan monks painstakingly create. For years I have been probing, pushing, checking, trying, exploring, stumbling, feeling and trying to get closer to what I stand for, what I want to do and who I want to be. The chaotic and troublesome ruins of the world lie in the universalisation of definitions, Success, fame, respect. But somehow, these pieces of papers helped me rediscover the definitions, Look into their focal facet. Heroes always do not have a massive support. Successful do not always come down from a bungalow or a car.
With a bare Bandaged foot, this tall, brawny bearded Guy who barely can walk welcomes us near the gate to his sisters wedding. A combined queue of Pro Resistance activists from all schools of thought and ideology working enthusiastically greet us and click photographs and post it to their Facebook timelines. The host who can barely sit with his plastered foot with a mouth closed illustrates his story of pain and anguish.
Ordinary people turn inspirational, by being extraordinarily thoughtful, intelligent, resistive, kind, and honourable by questioning the traditions, observing contradictions, and refusing to accept what they have been told when their experiences tell them something different. We often have no record, however, of most of these everyday folks. For many, an essay gives life to those men and women who did remarkable things without becoming famous for doing them, who doubted and wondered and empathised and made decisions for themselves.
Shobu kotwal’s house is located in one of the posh areas of the South Kashmir township, Islamabad. He owns a shop at the bustled main town square. Shobu boards a vehicle outside his house which drops him near his shop, though he prefers to walk most of the times owing to his fascination to interact with people. Even though he leaves early up but is often late to the shop to the routine timing of the market opening.
The less known fact is that Shobu Kotwal was arrested first time in 96 when he was 13 years old and interrogated and tortured for several days inside an Army camp. After 2008 he has been arrested several times till 2009 when Indian CRPF men beat him to pulp. He was admitted in SKIMS in a state of coma which continued for next couple of months. Discharged from the hospital, within a gap of one month he was arrested once again. He has been arrested man times since, 32 if his own words were a testimony. He was beaten ruthlessly, hit with rubber bullets, cane charged, tear smoke shells on many occasions resulting to serious injuries all over his body. He has spent months together in Jails. And continues to be arrested in old, fresh cases and subsequently finds his involvement in the Anti State activities through the court.
He wears a bag that folk earlier mistook for a bag that most of the shopkeepers would keep laden on their shoulders carrying cash and important documents. Upon being frequently asked what he carries in the bag even during cricket matches, often drove him agitated. Finally one day the mystery stood unfolded, he carries a calendar with most of the dates encircled, documents, a lot of them, bundled together, some folded, some wrinkled, some pasted together, some torn, a single thing in common, they all carried the court documents and the case papers, more than 50 in count which stand a sole testimony of his alleged involvement in “Anti-State” activities. He spends most of his time in the courts and rest arrested in the Police stations. He has found the best mates in the “Case-mates”. He spends most of the time with these “Children of the Dark.” The lawyers in the court, most of them are his good friends. Though most of the times, he finds himself arguing with the lawyers owing to the difference in ideologies. One who suffers is synonymous to “theory in practise” and one who only destines is just “theory.” The one who suffers witnesses it closely looks for a solution unlike the other group that believes in suggestions. Back to the subject, A peaceful day to him, is Police waiting outside his shop to arrest him which he evades most of the times, result, he stands economically fractured. His family is on all time low, economically.
The uprising in the valley in 2008 saw fresh faces, youngesters drove to streets protesting the human rights violations. Pertinently , thousands of youth were booked under draconian Public safety act (PSA) and other unlawful activities for protesting against the Amarnath land transfer 2008, killing of two school going children that led to the mass uprising in 2010 which left hundreds dead and more importantly devastated the career of hundreds of school going children and young men. These children, most of them have been pushed to anarchy wherein the self stands taller than all and hence they look to solve each matter, trusting no institution which may have hazardous outputs in any democratic setup owing to their alleged involvment in Anti State activities and them subsequently being booked under frivolous charges.
When the psychological process of the involvement in an “Anti-state”activity unfolds. The subject involves himself in the mechanisms of "Denial" and "repression." Questions which he cannot resolve well up in being an alleged “criminal”, feelings he had not foreseen or suspected torment his heart. God's truth and earthly law take their toll, and the "Criminal" is pushed to give up, forced, even if it means dying in prison, so that he may once again be part of the people, involve himself in the daily choruses. The feeling of separation and isolation from mankind, the daily chorus take it's toll. The man decides to accept suffering to redeem himself, he believes it is the way to end isolation.
The old hags, society, at the very initiation, alienates, dubs them as “criminals” which neither the law of land claims neither does the law of God that the society claims to be their moral code of conduct. In the former case, The law has to prove the charges laden against the accused while in the latter, a person stands innocent till proven guilty.
Shobu is a name to hundreds of such nameless heroes who suffer day in and day out, who are alien to empathy and sympathy from the ones whom they allege to be resisting for, who claim to be their representatives.
Qazi Shibli, Journalism Student, Bangalore University