By Basharat Ali
A Kashmiri student studying in India finds a mention in news these days. For raising a slogan, for cheering for his favourite cricket team, for not cooking beef, or, for simply being a Kashmiri student in India, anywhere in India. This Kashmiri student is not one individual but numbers in thousands. But since these thousands have many common threads, one of them is being a Kashmiri, we can talk of them as a single body, as one single individual. Of course, they study different courses, in different Universities, follow a different lifestyle, come from different backgrounds, but one thing that binds them all is their politics. They may express it or remain silent, it is one thing that binds them together on a given day. This can happen on a day when India loses to West Indies or when one of them is beaten up for being one of them.
This Kashmiri student is in the news because he is an “infiltrator” as he raised slogans for freedom. Then he “allegedly cooked beef” in Rajasthan. Then he cheered for Pakistan in Mohali and celebrated when India lost to West Indies. Then he was shopping in Karol Bagh and sporting a beard too.
All these and many more incidents happening in India have shifted the focus on a Kashmiri Student. In response to a volley of questions, which get repeated every time a new journalist wants to experiment with this subject, he says many things.
I feel threatened. They call me a terrorist. They see me with suspicion. I don’t get an accommodation easily. I can’t talk about Kashmir much.
And much more.
The Kashmiri Student, I believe, should not wish for any better treatment. Because even in his celebration he demonstrates what is seen as “anti-national” in India, both by its people and the state. So he can be lynched on the street, beaten up inside his college campus or simply suspended. There is no other language the Indian state can use to engage with him. He should expect no other language. So the entire mention of him in the news is not because of his politics but because of his supposed ‘human rights violation’. I have come to realise that the Indian state cannot commit any human rights violations on us because it does not consider us human at all. For the Indian state, we are a herd of sheep who it finds difficult to tame.
Now, very recently we have witnessed rise of a political equivalent in Kashmir of a Kashmiri Student in India. He is the Indian Student in Kashmir. Specifically, he is an Indian engineering student at National Institute of Technology in Srinagar. He can beat up a local courier boy, his batch mates who are again local, assault a professor and a police officer and then put forth his demands.
I want a temple inside the campus, my national flag too. This entire campus is shifted out. I also demand security from the JK Police. I want exams as per my wishes.
The Kashmiri student in India demands only one thing. Freedom from India. He does not demand security. In fact, he cannot demand it. It will be an anathema to his aspirations. He does not demand a University Grants Commission team to visit his campus. He cannot because that again reduces his politics to something very petty. So this charade why-did-the-government-not-do-this-when-Kashmiri-students-are-beaten-in-India should stop. There is nothing Indian that he demands. Not even the Indian education. No, not even fab India. He is here to shout and shut up, strike and hide.
He would say:
Put me not in a coffin made of anything Indian
Wrap me in the box made from a Deador tree
And carry home. To freedom.
For him the “local, non-local” issue at NIT is political. The “outsider” in India is political. So is the Indian Student in the “outsiders” land. There is no other way of describing them. There is no way of ending this stalemate unless one of these politicals get their demands fulfilled.
The demands of an Indian student in Kashmir will be fulfilled by his government. Very soon. For the Indian flag to be unfurled inside NIT campus, the Indian state would require to kill at least 100 Kashmiris, men, woman, young and old. Or, alternatively, they will need an entire Army of 7 to 8 lakh heavily armed troopers to be stationed inside and outside of the campus. They will do it either way.
The demand of the Kashmiri student in India will be fulfilled by him on his own. His is a long journey. It will take him few lynching’s, few hundred suspensions and seditions to get there. He will have to keep coming. Shout a slogan and then hide. Then return back and shout again.
Till then, the show must go on!
(Basharat Ali is a Research Scholar at the MMAJ Academy of International Studies in Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. He specialises in Insurgency Movements in South Asia.)