“The Invisible Man” and Kashmir

Arshid Malik

In the year 1897, H. G. Wells published his novella titled “The Invisible Man”. The theme of this peculiar novella is the concept of invisibility in the human terrain, something akin to what we saw in the Bollywood blockbuster, Mr. India. Even though the concept belongs to the domain of science fiction a lot of research has been conducted into it entailing rigorous ethical debates. Leaving science fiction alone we, the people of Kashmir, have affronted this phenomenon in real life and continue to do have encounters with incidents of such nature. We have scaled greater heights, I would say, watching much more that mere mortals disappear in our stride.  
Somebody update me with the count that NGOs working on the human rights front have tabled latest vis-?-vis the disappearances, of people who just went kaput in the face of time, in Kashmir valley since 1987. H. G. Wells must have turned in his grave every time these stats were tabled in Kashmir. We have seen a whole generation of men and women disappear in the past more than two decades and that along with all traces of enquires launched to trace their traces. It appears to be a “marvelous” feat when studied in the context of the underpinnings of the “The Invisible Man”.
We have witnessed whole accounts of injustices and crimes that were committed against the population of Kashmir at the hands of the so-called security forces go kaput in “broad daylight”. All the judicial probes and enquiries that were ordered into atrocities committed against mankind in Kashmir have attained a fate akin to “The Invisible Man”. People who were the so-called witnesses to such accounts have also disappeared.
Huge funds in the shape of subsidies and grants that walked into Kashmir for the development of the State encountered the same fate as our unending count of disappeared persons. The world famous Dal Lake stands witness to such phenomenal disappearances and is dying at the behest of such actualities.
Each time initiatives were made for the rehabilitation of the suffering masses of Kashmir at Central level or at the level of the State, kaput they went waning away within the shortest span of time. Each time talks were initiated by the Center with the leadership in Kashmir, because of one or the other standing reason the fate they met were peculiarly ethereal in nature. This time over the Center has again initiated the intention of holding talks with all sections of Kashmiri leadership and the word doing rounds is that the present dialogue would be “quiet”, and probably it will disappear quietly as well.
Kashmir has been living the concept offered to the world of literature by H. G. Wells and anyone having doubts about the practical and real life implications of this feat dubbed unachievable ever since it was founded may do well by paying a visit to Kashmir and confirming it straight from the horse’s mouth.
In the lighter vein, we as a people are also characteristically phenomenal at making things disappear. For instance the spectacle of the traditional Kashmiri Wazwan leaves one dumbfounded as we make large (I mean really large) quantities of meat disappear within a matter of minutes from the traditional Kashmiri serving plate measuring “half a mile” by comparative standards which is instantaneously reloaded with more and more mutton to come. Other things we have collectively managed to render non-existent is our “beloved” mother toungue and by large measures our collective heritage and culture.
Like the main character of Wells’ novella, Griffin, we are also unable to reverse the phenomenon and find peace in our natural, substantial existence again.


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