Before I talk about the recent hounding of Kashmiris in Indian cities, I want to reassure Indians of my love, irrespective of their religion, caste or colour, hate or belligerence. My anger is exclusive to those, who with the intent of vote-grabbing, have turned a secular country into a frenzied crowd. These crowds have been made hostage to the Kashmir issue by misinformation and misrepresentation of facts. I seriously suggest my Indian brethren to go through the Partition era in history with particular reference to Jammu and Kashmir.
We, in Kashmir, have been living in a perilous situation where every moment of life is given like a bonus to us. The concern of safety and security is now peeling away our minds and souls. Everyday killings, encounters, bulldozing of houses and relentless humiliation have left every single soul bruised, scarred and vulnerable. Due to this dangerous web in which we are entangled, many parents forced themselves to send their kids to different places in India in search of safety, peace and education. I can cite hundreds of such examples where parents have sold their property to pay the living costs of their children or to pay hefty amounts to educational institutions with the objective that their kids will not fall prey to constant persecution or lag behind in their careers.
The fierce and violent reaction to the recent suicide attack in Pulwama that killed more than 40 members of CRPF personnel has shattered the dreams of thousands of these young children who were hounded by mobs that filled them with so much horror that many had to lock themselves in rented rooms for many days. Kashmiris say they have never seen such rage and anger from people they loved and feel that life has altogether stopped for them.
Let me remind all that we have been mourning for seven decades, raising coffins everyday of young, women, the elderly and the budding youths, many among them had reached the zenith in their careers. If your anger sounds genuine, so is ours. We are witnessing carnage every day; I don't want to give the chronology of massacres. Anybody keen to know can get details of every bloody event or encounter from police reports.
The frenzied crowds were never been told that thousands of forces are at our doorsteps, watching every moment of us, searching us, often intimidating and encountering and mocking us any time they want to have fun. I suggest every sane Indian asks her/his leaders if according to the military, there are only few hundred gunmen in Valley, why are there 700,000 security personnel living in our cities, towns or villages?
Everyone asks us a question: Why are young boys choosing the dangerous path? I challenge them to come here, stay with us and face the music we are facing. This constant fear of terror and guns has changed our life in every aspect. Now, the apprehension and fear we harbour is that it might change the destiny of those young students who were made to run for their lives in Indian cities. It's no wonder that the hounded lot might be weighing the options of choosing the path Adil Ahmad Dar chose after he was told to lick the spit on the road by security officials. This is every mother's tragic nightmare.
"We find no difference in the attitude of a member of security personal and a civilian. Both wanted to kill us. Inside our homes and outside in college," said a Kashmiri girl who was crying in toilet for 20 hours in Dehradun because her hostel was surrounded by Hindu extremists demanding that the college hand her over to them.
The suicide attack has been a shock to every Indian. Believe me, it has been a rude shock to us as well. We couldn't imagine a young boy of 20 years becoming a suicide bomber and taking his life without even blinking at the thought of what he is going to do. It surely provides a glimpse into Kashmir's volatility which is consuming our young generation every day because of the political dead-end. The expression of anger was expected, but expression of violent anger across the length and breadth of the country was unnecessary and ingenuine. It was time for all of us to ponder over the dreadful event and look deeper into what forced a Kashmiri youth to tread on a dangerous path that only leads to death.
Living a life is the dream of every young man but dying with "intent" is scary and unimaginable. Why choose death over life? Everybody needs to ponder this with an open mind: Who pushed them to this dark and cruel end? Ask the political and military leadership.
What type of conscience is this that makes Indian TV channels laugh at the killing of babies, allows them to celebrate the epidemic of "blind eyes" and makes them rejoice over the destruction of poor houses? How can anchors sleep at night while watching our kids being hounded and hunted, traders raided and ripped, girls abused and locked in different states by Hindu extremists? This was incomprehensible to us.
For the first time in the history of Independent India, the minds of those Kashmiris — who have been protagonists of Indianness and have pleaded throughout their lives that staying with India will never be something they regret, because it is an open, secular and integrated society — were further blurred. Today, they will have to answer those students who had to take shelter in unknown places for their safety. Maybe the Hindu of early India was different to what he has become today.
It has certainly made us believe that Mohammed Ali Jinnah was right, after seven decades of partition and that Sheikh Abdullah was a visionless politician.
Many Kashmiri historians are wondering and questioning the wisdom of Abdullah and how he accepted the "Instrument of Accession" at a time when the Hindu extremists in Jammu were massacring thousands of Muslims or sending them in trucks to get killed on the way to refugee camps.
Ironically, the mainstream political parties were still appeasing Indian leaders who have left no stone unturned in discrediting and dislodging them, at a time when Hindu mobs were chasing Kashmiris in every nook and cranny of the country. The conscience-less politicians did nothing to protect innocent students or traders or labourers.
The death of any human being, civilian or uniformed neither can be celebrated nor exploited. But Hindutva parties exploited even the coffins of soldiers in order to raise the emotions of their countrymen to such an extent that every Kashmiri living in India had to disappear into the wilderness and run for their lives. I don't believe that the exploitation by security forces has ever raised their morale, but it might have resulted in polarising more votes. Nobody has a clue about whether this is making or breaking India. However, the tide of emotions is in favour of Hindutva with the worst impact on Muslims across the country. Kashmiri Muslims are the worst sufferers and always on the receiving end as they have been seen to be audacious in demanding their political rights the were snatched from them during Partition.
What is the outcome now? At home, Kashmir is surrounded by hundreds of thousands of guns. Outside, they are hounded, kicked out and boycotted. There remains no safe place for Kashmiris. Should we surrender our demand for political rights and accept India as a coloniser or should we unite with one voice and hit the streets for a peaceful struggle until we achieve our goal? Or should we let our boys choose a violent path that ends in death and destruction for all of us?
These questions need answers from the leadership.
Until we find answers, I will assure every Indian that we will never ever allow our hearts to harbour the hate against them because we know in the core of their hearts they also wish that Kashmir receives a political and not a military solution.
The author is former editor, Urdu, BBC World Service
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Updated Date: Feb 22, 2019 11:29:55 IST