Yes, ‘Matters of Heart’!
AND WHAT IS CLOSER TO THEIR HEART IS OBVIOUSLY NOT KASHMIR, COMMENTS HASSAN ZAINAGIREE
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‘Matter of Heart’. The line of a large sized photograph appearing in The Times of India depicting a cute little kid of Leh receiving a woolen garment from President of India, Pratiba Patil during her visit to Bodh dominated region on September 1st. The president, as the picture shows, bows down to court the innocence of the budding flower: left hand of president holding the blanket, right round the face and eyes stuck on the forehead clasped in warm hug. It is all, expressions of love, respect, resolve, apathy, compassion, sense of belonging in one gesture. It is message of India to people of Leh ‘that the country was behind them in their hour of grief as has been proved by the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and now hers’.
It is to be noted that cloudburst on the intervening night of August 05 and 06 led to flash floods and mudslides, which claimed over 175 lives and injured about 400 people, besides causing damage to public and private property.
Truly a picture (even motionless) or a live visual overweighs one-thousand words. It triggers impulse and shakes up both the psychological and physiological frame of the individual and the people. Only yesterday all the Indian news channels showed the ‘weeping visuals’ of the ‘distraught family’ of a slain Indian trooper Lucas Tete. The cop was one of the four police personnel held hostages by Maoist guerrillas. Maoists killed the cop after the deadline they gave to Natish Kumar government in Bihar demanding release of some imprisoned Maoists expired. The heart-rending scenes of the wailing family were certainly unbearable. All the channels, both Hindu and English, flashed these repeatedly. Condemnation of Maoist ‘barbarism’ was the common cord running through the “human-loving” hearts of the panelists. One of the panelist showing his “tenderness” and “sensitivity” to ‘human suffering’ revealed ‘he has to switch off his TV set as he could not bear the yelling cries of the slain cop’s family.’
Back home. A very glance at the The Times of India’s photograph deflected my thought to two blooming buds of Kashmir valley of 08 and 09 years old, who ‘security forces’ did not allow to blossom. A multiplicity of thought I was overwhelmed with. The wall of indifference, bordering of hatred, getting zoomed and zoomed. The wall that Indians raised and made impervious. One that has power-intoxicated on one side of fence, vulnerable subjugated on the other. The one that demarcates between us and them.
Just three days before cloud burst into floods in Leh, 09 year old Sameer Ahmad S/O Fayaz Ahmad of Batmaloo Srinagar was beaten to death by troopers of paramilitary CRPF. Quoting an eye-witness the GK (12 August, 2010) reported on the gut-wrenching incident: ‘Sameer ran towards the road after being chased by the dogs. The troopers hit his head hard and inserted a stick deep in his throat. They took turns to stand on his chest and kicked him as if he was a football. From his frail body, one could clearly see his ribs broken. He breathed his last on the spot.’ As if the avalanche of grief struck on the family was not enough, the police according to Fayaz Ahmad ‘added insult to the injury by stating in the FIR that Sameer was killed in a stampede’. The killing of an 08-year old child Milad of Islamabad (South Kashmir) by ‘security’ forces could melt stones but not the human make-up in Indian media. His “story” has not made it to ‘national’ press. There was no headline screaming hathia, katal, murder of innocent kid on TV channels that are otherwise caught in perpetual race for ‘breaking news’. Sameer, Milad, two young girls and one 75 year old include the 69 Kashmiris killed by police and paramilitary CRPF during the protest demonstrations that are going in the nook and corner of Kashmir for the last two and half months. The remaining overwhelming component of the killed is that of youth. ’26 persons have been shot in eyes and doctors say most of them will never be able to see again’. ‘This is atrocious’, said an opthamologist in SMHS frustrated by terrible condition of the patients with bullet, teargas, pellet and slingshot injuries in the eyes’ (GK 24 August, 2010). A 6th class student, Irshad Ahmad Parray of Eidgah Islamabad in South Kashmir was killed on 30 August sustaining pellet injuries in chest, arm and other parts of body (GK 31 August, 2010). Omar Qayoom, an 11th standard student was so brutally tortured by police in its custody that three day after battling for his life he collapsed. (Kashmir Uzma, 26 August, 2010).
This is just a tip of the ice-berg. All the 69 murdered Kashmiris draped in innocence, have their own Sameer, Irshad, Omar and Milad to retell blood tainted saga. More unbearable, more gruesome and more traumatic than what the Indian viewers are flashed to get ‘shocked’ to ‘close’ their eyes.
Just quote a single incidence where Indian newspapers, moreso news channels__ who are becoming most domineering mediums of moulding public opinion__ have given a horse-shoe space to expose ‘beastliness’ of the perpetrators. When have you directed your lenses on ‘distraught’ Farida Begum, mother of Sameer to show her scream: ‘Oh my beloved son, how dare the troopers kill a tender soul like you, didn’t they ever have mercy on your cries and innocence? What was the crime of my son? He was just walking on the street.’
In blacking out the horror and tragedy wrought on hapless people of Kashmir Indian media derives a sadistic pleasure. Like the perverted minds of anchors of eminent TV channels, their cameras skip over the agonies and atrocities. The channels and reporters are there in Kashmir to disseminate not truth and facts but act as propagandists of an impervious state. A small scratch of human error in resistance camp holds priority in prime time news hours and first page headlines but a stinking festering souls that warrants immediate surgery is covered up brazenly. These channels hunt to kill moral bone of journalistic professionalism in Kashmir what they otherwise cherish most in India. Not only they act as ‘wave breaker’ to deflect force of the uprising directed against India but as cheap brokers as well. In their brokerage house they cultivate the image of those who “move forward” to pawn their conscience before the masters in Delhi. Taking guidance from an unwritten ‘moral code of conduct’ they have turned into a monolith of callous insensitivity. Blindfolded to pronouncement of streets, screams of mothers and cries of children and what aam aadmi craves for, Indian media has certainly “come of age” in Kashmir. It has grown more “wisdom teeth” now to feel the taste of news content. It relishes spilling of blood.
As people of India were deluged with cloud-burst information, Indian leadership scuttled to Leh to assure Ladakhis that ‘entire country’ was with them. Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, Rajkumar Rahul Gandhi and other ministers reached Leh. And helped in rescue, relief and rehabilitation of the affected families. From PM’s fund Dr Singh announced payment of five lakh rupees each to a family that has lost one member in the floods. JK government gave two lakh rupees on the same pattern. Under a special package crores of rupees have been earmarked for building their houses and entitled to medicines, food and milk etc free of cost. In this ‘hour of need’ corporate and film industry did not lag behind. We appreciate this generosity and promptness in response to a tragedy. For a human cause that knows no barriers of cast, color, race, region, language or creed.
But the moot point is why Indian state behaves indifferently when Kashmiris are inflicted tragedies more brutal and nightmarish than cloud-burst type of natural miseries. We have been robbed off nearly seventy people in the ongoing peaceful demonstrations and hundreds crippled for life. Valley is reeling under a harsh season of curfews and strikes. The streets are splattered with blood.
Kashmiris are ‘our own people’ you parrot. But when it is time to prove what you mean, you crawl back in your imperialistic bind. Here coffers of Indian state got emptied and there is nothing left to offer as “consolation” to victims’ family in Kashmir? How many Indian leaders, film tycoons, corporate media personalities and civil society activists visited Kashmir to show solidarity with victims of terror? PM of India, President of India and Rajkumar of ruling Congress party reach Leh to convey victims of nature’s fury that ‘entire country is behind them’.
That is how Kashmir makes a `special’ case for India.
(The author can be reached at email@example.com)