BARE STATEMENTS WON’T DO. THE PROBLEM DEMANDS SOLUTION ON THE GROUND, COMMENTS HAMEEDAH NAYEEM
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Even as the bloodbath and the massive protests continued unabated in the battered valley, Indian politicians, the mandarins of bureaucracy, the spin doctors of establishment and the embedded media men intensified their offensive of dubbing the current crisis as Pak-sponsored. Nothing could be farther from truth. The mowing down of one growing sapling plant after another, after people’s protests against Machhil fake encounter in which three persons after having been lured by jobs were killed in cold blood by the army near LoC, created the current crisis. Tufail Ahmad Mattoo’s (17) brain fell on the ground after being hit by a tear gas shell thrown at the protesting youth while returning home from his tuition classes on 11th June.The gruesome picture of his disfigurement in the news papers and cable channels rended the hearts of mothers, sisters and the youth who protested massively the next day in which another youth, Rafiq Ahmad Bangroo (24)was beaten to death by CRPF in downtown Srinagar.This further intensified the public rage and they clashed with CRPF personnel while carrying out the funeral procession of Rafiq which resulted in the killing of Javaid Ahmad Malla(22) on 20th June. These barbarian killings outraged the entire populace of Kashmir and they came out on the streets furiously protesting against this carnage and continued to demand action against the killers in their protest demonstrations and the repealing of draconian laws by virtue of which the forces have been given the license to kill, arrest and destroy homes on mere suspicion. It is in knee jerk reaction or calibrated one ( who knows which) that CRPF in Sopore and JK police in Islamabad allegedly killed in cold blood Shakeel Ahmad Ganai(17), Firdous Ahmad Kakroo (16), Bilal Ahmad Wani (21) on 27th June and Tauqir Ahmad(9) and Tajamul Bashir (17) on 28th in Sopore and Ishtiyaq Ahmad Khandey(15),Imtiyaz Ahmad Itoo(17) and Shujat ul Islam(16) in Islamabad in south Kashmir on 29th. June. When the situation was slightly improving, Muzzafer was chased to death by drowning in Batamallo on 5th July when a minister paid a visit to the area under the instructions from Delhi and Fayaz Ahmad and Fancy Jan were killed in batamallo with ‘ flying bullets’ when the protesters were protesting the brutal killing of Muzaffer Ahmad. the next day. Abrar Ahmad,17, the cute boy in Maisuma was killed in cold blood on 6TH July. This is how the so-called security apparatus resorted to carnage and created the current turmoil in the state yet the media had the gall to say that violence was imported . How could the Liliputian intervention of considerably weakened militant organisations create such a situation which only the deeply hurt feelings could bring about? Had it been so, they could have created this sort of situation before. Nothing is more painful, insulting and demeaning to our mothers and Kashmiris in general than to be told that their grief and outrage at the killing of their blooming young boys and their quest for political empowerment is actually their willingness to be used by “others on payment ‘’ New Delhi and its cohorts have bruised our collective psyche beyond repair time and again and it is these deep wounds and scars that speak on the streets of Kashmir. Only refer back to last year’s Shopian atrocity which left deepest scar on our psyche and the lava has been smoldering inside for the past one year. How our soul was strangulated by the distortion of facts about that case , how even the CBI was used to cover up the soul-stirring atrocity and thereby complete denial of justice. People knew that they will never get justice as everything is condoned here in the name of flawed notion of nationalism and would have called off the strike if their grief and suffering would have been acknowledged and their feelings assuaged by appropriate steps which people were demanding for.. But unfortunately New Delhi continues to be in the denial mode of Kashmiris’ pain and sufferings and their rights’ movement and dubs every cry for justice as law and order problem- the cliché which has outlived its use.by being overused and by implicating Pak hand which is a convenient ploy to muzzle the public voice of dissent. Stone pelting falls within the paradigm of resistance and not the law and order domain. It symbolizes Kashmiri youth’s abhorrence for Indian domination in the state symbolized by the unprecedented presence of army and other forces and her rule which has manifested itself in manipulation of Kashmiris as dumb driven cattle and concentration of all the political and security related powers in Delhi while being forcibly held against their will. The present agitation is not therefore against the CM of the state government which has already been divested of all power and authority by a mere babu from Delhi who issues a laundry list of do’s and don’ts to him like a headmaster of yore. and therefore the change of “poster boy of democracy” is not going to help the situation though that is the only thing that Delhi could think of doing to keep its collaborators fighting with each other to evade addressing the real malaise . Stone pelting is not an invention of Kashmiris to be condemned by the Fatwas of rented moulvis and muftis but is universally resorted to by people to show their anger and resistance against the undesirable policies and programmes of the govts and to press for their demands and rights including the right to demand justice for atrocities committed and the repealing of laws that legitimize such atrocities. Greece, the cradle of civilization, has witnessed stone throwing by dissenting populace in the recent past against the govt of the day but no bullets were showered on them or Tuesday’s protests in Belfast of northern Ireland should serve as an eye-opener for the policing methods in the valley as has been emphasized by Greater Kashmir editorial of Thursday particularly because there are similarities between the two situations. Or closer home in different parts of India there are violent commotions everyday but nobody gets killed even’ incidentally.’ in these agitations.
In fact nowhere in the world are stones responded to with bullets or detentions of stone throwers except in Kashmir under the most arbitrarily misused Public Safety Act because Kashmiris are treated as an extension of the enemy –Pakistan, not “our own people ” as is time and again being parroted to control the territory. Even for the sake of that argument govt could have shown sympathy to the suffering masses and taken steps to assuage the hurt feelings but instead it used and continues to use all terrorizing methods to suppress the people as is evident by 800 detentions in the past two weeks But history is a witness to the fact that these coercive methods have only intensified people’s resolve to fight back. Even after the detentions of “rabble-rousers” like Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Nayeem Ahmad Khan, protests have continued unabated. One can take the present situation as post Geelani. In his absence youth is more determined to carry the struggle to its desired goal, and therefore the detentions have not served any purpose but only aggravated the anger. What adds pepper to the raw injuries is the vicious campaign carried out by sections of media especially electronic like Times Now TV channel through its anchor Arnob Goswami who shamelessly and repeatedly spewed poisonous and provocative statements with finality that it is the paid and rented mourners who are protesting on the streets of Srinagar. He tried to put together clumsily intercepts of conversations to prove the Lashkar hand in fomenting trouble in the state. What gave one some relief was Mani Shanker Ayer’s snubbing him time and again for playing the role of a prosecutor rather than an anchor. Other channels for fear of lagging behind in displaying their ‘nationalism’ tried to overtake his channel in the race for confusing the people of India with cooked up tales. It is utter crassness of Indian government, its denial of the existence of genuine demands and the fabrications of different agencies in the face of killing of young boys that acted like fuel to the fire. This is basically how New Delhi has always responded to Kashmiris’ cry for justice and their demand for political empowerment. As a result every barbarity and unfathomable acts of inhumanity against Kashmiris are justified in the name of pseudo and jingoistic nationalism and national security. Even today when mothers’ hearts have been torn asunder and they are most worried about the safety and security of their children, government continues to terrorize them with the might of army and other paramilitary forces with imprisonments of their young ones and by other terror tactics. While women in large numbers came out to protest against the savage and merciless killing of teen age boys, government agencies and embedded journalists are busy in vicious disinformation campaign. But what is encouraging are some sane voices from Delhi like oases in the desert who did not only empathize with the people of Kashmir but pleaded for the speedy resolution of the political issue which is deeply embedded in the collective psyche of Kashmiris and erupts every now and then when the system creates such situations which reminds people time and again how colonized and besieged they are by a country which has the distinction of being the largest democracy on earth and despite multiple ruptures and discontinuities the yearning for release from the vicious circle does not change its character though it may change its form from time to time.
The greatest sufferer in all this as in the past are women whose families have been devastated, personalities disintegrated, souls bruised, bodies benumbed, minds immobilized and nerves paralysed. After marriage women generally live for their children. They become the axis around which their existence revolves. Once they lose their children, they lose their life force. They experience a vacuum inside as well as outside. They become living dead bodies and their devastated lives spread their wings around and affect not only a family but the whole community. And when the killings are the handiwork of those who are supposed to protect, the pain is felt in every vein and artery of the community .That is why any sensitive soul who visits from outside can at once feel the devastation writ large on the people and the landscape of Kashmir. Only a humane and just intervention from powers that be can bring life back to a devastated populace. The government of India must, if it has an iota of concern for people and wants to find a way out of the present situation, repeal AFSPA, PSA, DDA, release all those young boys and political leaders and activists who have been arrested, institute a fast track enquiry into the brutal killings to give exemplary punishment to the guilty within 15days. Then only can you douse the flames of public outrage to some extent and not by listening to the advice of hawks in the establishment and those vested- interest groups and persons who have been telling the government of India that people will cool down after sometime and resume normal life on their own. and that there is no need to do anything because that is how their own coffers would keep on thriving . Today even the collaborates of Delhi in the state have felt compelled to speak the truth about Kashmir and stressed the need for a speedy solution of the K issue. It is the vested interest of many players in Kashmir that has devastated Kashmir and deadened the Indian conscience which I am sure will rise to the occasion if shown the clear picture of Kashmir and address the mass uprising in a humane manner as Atal Behari Vajpai had proposed and not to look at Kashmir through Pakistani and security prism. It is the recognition and endorsement of Kashmiris’ rights movement by both India and Pakistan which will open the way out from the perpetual impasse in which we have been trapped for the past sixty years. This is not the time to dilly dally and make customary statements that the problem cannot be solved tomorrow or after six months. This is the time to act in dead earnest to resolve the issue in time bound framework through a structured dialogue. That alone can release the Kashmiris’ collective soul in agony and India and Pakistan could get released from the sinister burden of history.! Hope this anguished cry is heard in the corridors of power lest we plunge into an abyss from which there could be no return!
(The author teaches at the Department of English, University of Kashmir. Feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org)