Author: Saadut
•9:03 PM

After decades of brutal occupation was countered with fierce resistance, thousands of lives have been lost (locals claim close to 100,000 while India acknowledges a figure of around 50,000) overwhelming of them being  innocent civilians, close to 10,000 civilians having disappeared in custody and scores of women having faced molestation and rape, yet Azadi seems ever elusive to Kashmir. What is it with us that our goal seems farther every passing day and our aim fragmented more than ever?

The annexation of Kashmir by Indian forces would not have been possible without help from within. It was people from the old NC brigade who supported the arrival of Indian army in Kashmir. A group of mountain animal herders (Gujjars) are rumored to have sold ‘Qabail fighters’ (tribesmen) to the Indian army near Shalteng for five rupees (how Maqbool Sherwani gave them wrong directions is another part of this story). In decades that followed the dubious nature of many (if not all) people was best illustrated when Bakshi famously quipped to Nehru ‘4 million Kashmiris support me and 4 million support Sheikh Abdullah’. When Nehru asked ‘what is the total population in Kashmir?’ Bakshi replied ‘4 million’!  

The brutal atrocities of Indian army in Kashmir may have come to the fore later, before that it were people like Qadir Ganderbali (Sheikh Abdulla’s key man) who had taken on himself the mission of ‘Indianising Kashmiris by whatever torture is required’. On the political scene it were Kashmirs like Pandit D. P Dhar (the then Home Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, in 1954) and Prime Minster Bakshi who ensured erosion of autonomy, allowing New Delhi to have total control on Kashmir. 

In the following decades continuity of this despondency and colonization was only possible because the same people who used to cry ‘Alle karr’e waanagan karr’e Babb karre lo lo’ (Gourd or aubergine, whatever Sheikh Abdullah (Bab) wishes may do to us), would switch tune to ‘Kashmir ko raishumari dou’ (give Kashmir its plebiscite). While there was a sizeable number of people who remained steadfast in their political principles, they were often silenced and pushed into oblivion by the loud mouthed and muscle flexing dubious lot. 

The armed resistance that evolved in the 90’s of Kashmir (originally fuelled by decades of Indian oppression and finally ignited by the ‘87 election mass rigging) soon found mass support here. It took infighting between rebel groups and in following year’s creation of renegade force armed and supported by India to weaken this resistance. While Indian forces may like to pat their back for weakening the rebel resistance in Kashmir, in reality it was the creation of an unbridled and hounding renegade force constituting many ex-militants that had forced this. Since this informal force sponsored by India was sans any accountability, they unleashed gut wrenching terror on civilians. Now local was killing a local, while the state became just a facilitator. 

In later years as resistance shifted to protests, nothing much had changed within our psyche of decades. Many of the same people who would pour onto roads in hundreds of thousands protesting against Indian atrocities and rule in Kashmir, would be seen in long queues casting votes legitimizing the same. While most Kashmiris may stay steadfast in their aim and means, boycotting Indian political processes in Kashmir, for political representatives that are known to be nominated by New Delhi, most of what has been projected from Kashmir puts a spotlight on our duplicity.

In the last election I witnessed the same boys hoisting banners of an opposition party in one part of Srinagar, those I had witnessed in yet another election supporting the party in power. Yet again further ahead on many occasions I would witness the same boys among the crowd protesting (some of them even pelted stones) against Indian state in Kashmir. Tragically those fighting the oppressive state in Kashmir with all they have, are overshadowed by those with the contentious political flip-flops. The colossal sacrifices made by Kashmiris in this fight are sadly countered by tyrannical sins of those within us only. India as an oppressor will do what an oppressor has to do; how we as a nation collectively stand against that oppression will decide our fate.

While the new generation in Kashmir has taken resistance as a sacred belief, here too many forces are busy weakening and breaking this thought. And if the splitting of political forces (The A to Z of Hurriyat) was not enough, there are other forces trying to undermine whatever is left of this resistance. There are those who side with India and proclaim it openly and also those who claim to be against the oppressor yet covertly work to break this resistance. The latter ‘covert renegade’ is far more dangerous than the former ‘pro establishment’. Start of last year, at the fag end of winter, one holiday morning I was physically assaulted resulting in a fractured nose and badly swollen eye (they must have aimed at the eye). Later found that this was as a result of my disagreement on social networks with some young boys, who found my opinion intolerable hence invoked ‘the Qadir Ganderbali doctrine’. This year, around the same time, threats from another young man just because my thoughts expressed on these networks are to his disliking. This ‘covert renegade’ culture has morphed into ‘if you don’t agree with us, you are an agent’! In their disdain of resisting Kashmiris, the pro Indian parties are at least decent enough to accept it and practice their malice openly. Contrary, these ‘covert renegades’ not only hide under the cover of ‘I am more nationalist and rebel than you are’ these boys within are stealthily working to destroy this very resistance. 

Lead has so deep sunk into our hearts that the sacrifices of Kashmiris are relegated to a one day off, one day of hartal, some outrage and then forgetfulness. Recently when a young lad was shot dead by Indian forces in north Kashmir and the valley protested by a single day of ‘hartal’, some young men presumably very vocal on the virtual medium against this oppression, were enjoying barbeque that afternoon by the banks of the Dal lake, outraging on mobiles. The smile on their faces was outrageous. Ever wondered how many of those who outrage on social networks about issues like #KashmirDisappeared or #TortureKashmir ever stood by the families of the disappeared, who have been marking their periodic protests in Srinagar? How many of us have even for once been part of these protests, giving strength to the voice of the aggrieved (Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons) or for walking our outrage talk? In one of such protests in Lal Chowk, I noticed some youngsters passing by and giggling at the pain of these families. So much for our apathy! 

Our predicament is best described by a humorously critical narrative on Kashmiris; “Somebody was offered rounds of hell and heavens. In one of the dungeons of hell he found there were no guards at the gate, unlike in other dungeons. When he asked for the reasons, “there are Kashmiris in this dungeon. We don’t need any guards to stop them from escaping as they are always busy pushing each other down”. Perhaps India understands our self destructive irony and is using this trait to keep us enslaved in our own hell dungeon.