“Kashmir Calling”

Arshid Malik

Ghoulishness has descended upon Kashmir once again, with the killing of a youth in Tral recently. Whatever versions of the “story” the police or the armed forces come up with the incident is tragic, I must say. In the aftermath of the killing people of Tral assembled on the streets to mark their protest and dozens were injured in retaliatory action by the security forces. Again so very tragic. I believe people of Kashmir have emotions which move inside their blood like the rest of mankind and it is sometimes difficult to control these emotions, especially when someone who happens to be one of “them” is killed, leaving aside the “different versions of the story which have been fed to us” – a life lost is a life lost. And if life is so dispensable in Kashmir then there is no hope for this land and its people. Till the point we prove our innocence, say any one of us who is “caught off guard”, we might find ourselves buried deep inside the cold earth. I say, instead of “spinning stories” why the security paraphernalia can’t or for that matter the head of the state apologize for once to the people. A simple and honestly tendered apology can sometimes heal the deepest wounds. But no, that is not the way democracy works, especially down here in Kashmir, where the law and rules and amended to suit the effectors. With all this blood on “our” hands what do we do with slogans like “Kashmir Calling”?

To cut a long story short I simply want to convey to the readers as well as to the establishment that things are so “properly” wrong in Kashmir. There is no peace while there is so much talk about peace. If the establishment presupposes that “peace” is technically synonymous with elimination of all resentment which has been scourging up time and time again in the shape of what I call “on-street dissent” and the thereof massive statistical drops in terms of numbers of militants present or active in Kashmir then the point of view of the establishment is dictatorial and not democratic at all. Yes, I am sure that the views that the establishment has about the very people it rules or has been ruling are militarily succinct but socially corrupt. Peace is the harbor of joy and happiness which does not belong here for when there is distrust all entitlements to happiness are petite. The people of Kashmir have been living on the edge for decades now. And mind you all, the question of “who started the fire” does not fit in here. Things happened overtime and people moved ahead but with incidents like the one that took place in Tral haunting the minds of the people here there is painful inertia that sets in. Yes, you will see the street vendor, the office goer, the businessman carrying on with what concerns them and for a moment an outsider may get the feeling that things are at peace, but then the outsider does not know what vehemently presses upon the psyche of the average Kashmiri man, woman and child. People here have put on masks of “indifference” but these masks are basically amendments to misfortune which people have applied of their own accord for they need to eat, live and pray however difficult the times maybe.

Now, what am I implying here, the reader may wonder? Am I a tenacious minder-bender of sorts who is hiding behind curtains of vitality to conceal his separatist longings? Or am I another imposter who wants to tell the Kashmiri people what they already know? Well, I am none of the above. I am a common Kashmiri who is not feeling well about anything down here in Kashmir and feels like running bare-foot to the farthest and the most un-inhabited part of the world for I am so fed up. I had just stepped into my teens when everything went ugly black from a glittering green in Kashmir. Blood, death, tears was all that met my eyes while I was growing up and now that I figure I am growing old things have changed. The blood clotted, death emulsified into life and tears dried up while the commotion remains the same. I coped for I had to survive like every other Kashmiri and people, the outsiders, thought I – a part of the “we” – had healed. Almost no one took a step forward and smell our breath for it was on fire like ever. Governing regimes were voted in and out of power and there was always talk about restoration of peace and prosperity in Kashmir. The talk did flower into something eventually, it flowered into more robust talk that more than often found way into party manifestoes.

Let me tell you, my “unwanted” rulers, I am a Kashmiri and have been through the darkest and scariest of Kashmiri nights and it is the people of Kashmir who have done what has been done for the better and the best. We have buried our sons in unmarked graves and have kept smiling for we want to earn our living. We greet the visitors with a smile because we know what it implies economically. No we are not imposters but a forsaken people coming off troubled times who had to exert to put smiles on the faces of our children. We did what we could do best? We traded, earned and ate for if we were to stay put and hope that the government would eventually arrange for our meals then we would have died hungry. We have been doing it for ages now. We have been brave and strong and resilient. A recent example in the September 2015 floods. We survived by helping each other, making the survival of our own possible. Had we waited by the window for the “sarkari” boats to arrive we would have rotten to death. We fought and we always will. Now if you want to take credit for all that we have done, do it. Cry out loud that “Kashmir is calling”. We are here to serve an infinitude of smiles. But do remember, every time you shoot down a Kashmiri you are not shooting down “ducks” but soldiers of a very brave “nation”. And I know you cannot dispense off your diabolic hunting skills, but at least treat the dead and the sentiments of those whose souls suffer over the dead with some respect.

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