What we, as a generation of youngsters, went through in the era of the 90s is beyond description. Yes, words defy expression of the kind of suppression we went through. It was tarrying to walk the streets in broad daylight as the “preying” eyes of Indian troopers followed our every step. At every corner we were asked to prove our allegiance and identity. Not a single day passed without one of us witnessing the cold blooded murder of a companion.
The nights were terrifying as we were asked to march out of our warm homes in the dipping chill of the winter and made to sit in a congregation in open areas, as if we had committed a crime that rendered us, as a population, not worthy of any kind of sympathy.
The news poured in from all corners of the valley about murder, rape, arson and belittling of identities. A precocious sentiment of hatred flocked us in, no matter what we believed or wanted to believe.
I always find words failing me whenever I try to sketch out 90s in Kashmir. Suppression those days was too grave to be slithered into a pot full of words, composed into a neat structure of narrative.
But I do find a single word synonym generous enough to depict the entire era as I write and that is suppression. Kashmiri people were under a spell of grave suppression for a grave period of time.
My engagement as a writer is not with the thesis of suppression but with how suppression and fear can throttle an evolving generation of people.
My take here is that, even though the era of suppression has ended to some conclusive degree, but the after effects of the phenomenon remain to stay.
Suppression and its psychological manifestations outlive the period of time during which the phenomenon belongs to and the effects on the people who have been oppressed outgrows all sorts of active discourses aimed at achieving a furthering from the tangles of the phenomenon. Looking at Kashmir, it is a beautiful place abode to very intelligent and talented people. I cannot help not fathoming the intellect of the Kashmiri mind, which is vast and diverse and by all means very refined. But yet Kashmiri people are found to be stunted. There is vagueness at every corner which should have been blessed with an appetite full of a sense achievement; achievement that would transcended the barriers of a foreclosure as found in the subtlety of the cause that Kashmiri people believe in or are cast into as anuniformity. There is so much that Kashmiri people can or could have achieved in circles of music, fine arts, engineering, geology, conservation, education, the health sector and all but we fail to see much when we render ourselves as observers at the crossroads. Well, suppression has tales to tell.
Suppression and the psychology thus evolving falls short of realizing the person’s individual potential and aptitudes while it also falls short of realizing one’s potential for what one could and should be as a social being. The psychology of suppression stunts people’s capacity to understand, own, and control their society, which are all necessary to understand and fulfil oneself. By all means this is what suppression primarily intends to achieve: stunting the panoply of psychological processes such as cognition, perception, emotions, motivation, sensibilities, imagination, aesthetics, morals, and self-concept, serves suppression by oppressing social being. Suppressionlays the basis, function, and character of psychological stultification. The stultification thus pressed into character cannot be overcome through personal means at the personal level which do not directly transform suppression.
This is what has happened to the people, the society of Kashmir. The overstretched suppression and its tentacles have limited the capacity of the people to evolve as a better people who have the capacity and the refrain to effect change in the world in a positive way. To put it more simply we have generations of people who are “zombified” by suppression and this phenomenal ill-being of us has cast a very dark shadow on the generations that follow. It would and does take the new generation great efforts to walk away from these dark shadows.
I would not agree with anyone who has a defined idea of the end of suppression in Kashmir under the impulse of the fact that the situation has bettered. The tentacles of suppression are mummified into the very core fabric of Kashmiri society.