Author: Saadut
•11:21 PM

Am I a migrant having been forced to shift homes four times in the past 20 years and all due to the turbulence and turmoil of my homeland? Early 90’s family was forced to move from a wonderful house from the middle of the city to a windowless, partially roofless, cold walled brick and mortar tucked away in a desolate place and pathed by clayey rough roads. Here the winter chill would hit our bones, often travelling right through them. We had to move to find some breathing areas, forceful suffocation having engulfed all populated areas of the cities and towns of my land, we shifted wanting to be able to see the blue sky away from the olive green canopies that had started clouding across the land but nowhere could I see a night star now, we shifted to escape getting in the line of the barrel which was being fired by the so called protectors aimlessly. The approaches to these areas were in exaggeration medieval, in reality prehistoric. Forces invisible, forces powerful had taken over my land and were mowing humans, culling all that came in their way. Evenings had been taken over early by the dark night, bewilderment and distrustful certitude had become order of the day. 

Cases of movement and migration abounded across Kashmir, some unheard some hidden. A doctor’s family from a dwelling somewhere near the flood channel had to flee in the dark of the night trying to save his family and honour. Soon  unwelcome gazes and the burning heat of Indian pains took them over. A roof was very hard to find, rightist jingoism had by now frenzied India and families like these found no welcome there. With much difficulty did they manage to find a cover over their heads, their lives were now limited to a one bedroom cubicle, tucked away in the maze of lanes and by lanes of an old part of the city there. Tragically India did not recognize them as migrants. Some families form up north lost their homes and everything to gunpowder ignited charring, also fled for the plains in an effort to escape the trauma and to rebuild, again found themselves to be singled out for their ethnicity, denied even  a fair opportunity. The blistering attitude of some people out there towards such migrated families was fiercer than the scorching heat of these areas. Such families were never considered migrants.

The debating Kashmir Experts in A/C studios will babble about the success stories of some Kashmiri Muslims out there, but what they don’t tell us is that these achievements have been in-spite of the indifferent and prejudiced approach faced by us in India, not because of any sops or fair opportunities given to us.

Dominion sponsored terror followed everywhere, seen ransom kidnappings of kin with covert uniform support and seen state blind to blood gore. The kidnapped had no political ideology; the killed had no reason to die. The desolation of the new place became perfect grounds for the running, fleeting birds. Soon enough the hunter had followed these young fleeting birds who had taken to these pebbled and mud filled rough roads. Saw young closing eyes early, saw old grope in the dark fall and try to regain again, saw brothers and husbands vanish in the dark nights, saw the funeral of humanity trampled in city squares and in highways. Thinking minds were guillotined in open fields, their carcass gunny sacked and abandoned to injustice. Saw kids learning the vocabulary of conflict and war faster than their ABC’s, the same kids introduced to life in a brutal way having lost their childhood cheers to horror and trepidation, their childhood music was replaced by the unending wails resonating all across my homeland. 

The apples of orchards near my home having prematurely turned blood red, the spiked jack boot marks having trampled young skulls on every blade of grass, the move was again enforced. We again shifted having sold a fortune for pennies and moved to farther more desolate corners, rebuilding every part of the nest from scratch. Every stone, every brick was a fight against forgetfulness, fighting for coherence and identity. Life is all about travel, but our lives had become a hurried flight against faster and velocious time: we had to race against all the odds, the slipping sand of the time machine and the arduous, strenuous shirking spaces between sunrise and sunset of my land now controlled and decided by 700,000 governors. And after much effort, finally one more time a roof came up.

I heard of concerns for somebody’s distress sale and legislation's coming to the rescue, fair enough. But nobody was ever bothered about the distress from occupations of our fertile lands, where crops were destroyed, productive trees uprooted and sandbag or concrete fortifications erected. Our peasantry was nobody’s concern, we were nobody’s people. The living having met their fate alive, even the dead were not spared, graveyards overrun by camps in fatigues, made out of bounds by miles of barbed wires and peeping trigger ready barrels. I often wonder about the resilience of families whose dwellings and homes were consigned to state ignited infernos, whole towns having been set to flames by remorse less men in fatigues, lives consumed and uncountable homes turned to ash. Who did ever bother to help them out, were they not humans enough for compassion? 

I saw the runaway political harlequins and clowns running anarchous political fornication from their sponsored fortification of other cities in the mainland. I ventured out of my homeland in my search for knowledge and opportunities, found myself and my likes from this land demeaned, snubbed, abashed for our identity. Shadows of doubt followed us everywhere in the mainland, we requested fair opportunities were handed bigoted, dishonorable and prejudiced treatment. We were tagged as terrorists without any names; we were a national risk for them in any form, back then our confirming to ‘no political ideology’ hardly mattered. The sops were limited to a different community (even thought we demanded no sops) and the fair opportunities abnegated from us, mostly under state patronage and a prejudiced media driven sentiment. Some of the migrated, who visited knowledge cities for education and tried their hands to explore avenues that had been proclaimed by the state to help migrants, were denied the same. They were told such migrant sops were purely based on religious prejudices, the definition of migration having been limited to some communities by these powers. Migratory birds from this valley had been de-flocked and were now classified based on religious beliefs rather than act of migration. A proclaimed secular state was after all rightist in approach.

Back home the administrators of my land increasingly came from alien lands, understanding none of the local dialect, never connecting to the land. I went further far across the seas and found different worlds, better humans and importantly less of malice. Having a run around quite some part of the world, could hardly feel my feet stopping, to allow my soul take root in these alien lands. I saw many of my natives having changed the contours of their soul, now living in affluent lands and then I also heard then cry hoarse about ‘once upon a time we were hounded’. I understood some of their pain very well, after all I had seen much worse in my land, our families back there having no escape route from the ravaging storm. These of my friends had seen the tempest briefly, but we had been stuck in the tornado forever, the vortex having spiraled us in. We could escape nowhere, nobody welcomed us, nobody out there wanted us, and in our own land we had become conflict fodder. And then one fine day I returned back. 

I continue to dare the tempest and live where I was born. But I still see desolation in young eyes; I see disgust among them. I have been uprooted from my own land, my identity often questioned by people who never belonged to this place. 

I have been made a nomad, in search for a soul root, for a ray beyond the horizon, I am an extorted, dragged sprint in my own home: Am I a migrant having been forced on the run in my own state?

But then since we are Kashmiri Muslims, our agony is no agony, our pain is no pain, our running for life, our forced flights under moonless night cloaks is not a migration.

The state does not consider us a Migrant, it may not even consider us human enough. I am just a Kashmiri Muslim, who finds it suffocating in his own home land, uprooted and disheveled by the state every now and then, whose erasure does not make any news.

20th May 2011