Author: Saadut
•8:49 PM

Autumn often turns me melancholic, with its struggle to stay relevant between scorch maturing summers and cold hibernation forcing winters. Much like our fight to oscillate between desire and desirable, between need and want, between regression and rebellion September, acting as the gateway to autumn, crawls steadily over a half heartedly resisting green, ripening in stalks of fields or withering in woods camouflaged by aging bark. Many of my memories stand etched in this autumn, some crimson gold, others rusty dry.
In mid 90’s few of my college holidays, starting with the end of summer sessions, headed home just in time for the start of autumn. Those days, even as a garrisoned Kashmir restricted movement, I would often risk venture out to meet friends and acquaintances. Autumns when the air would either be filled by the shrill of a desolate silence or the residual scary feeling of cross firings or violent ambushes, life hung on a pernicious hope. On some of these days, just close to old gates of a silently watching shrine, bordering the barricades of downtown those extend parallel to older graveyards, I often saw this skeletal old man, whitish complexion, wrinkles on his face like tides of an older sea, sitting by the broken parapet. Often in a light brown shalwaar kameez, he would be seen silently querying passing buses and at other times gazing into some undisturbed nothingness. On rainy days saw him sitting motionless by the edge of an old shop, where shutters had turned rusty by neglect, remaining unlocked for years. He could have been any of the hundreds of ignore worthy people passing by, but his blank yet questioning face wearing the same haunting emotion day in day out left a mark on your mind.

Autumn was aging fast, half golden leaves turning brown, shredding like the monks riches. The Naseem Bagh campus, where an army of Chinars has been trained over centuries to disrobe their royal splendor in autumn and spread them like imperial carpets in golden motifs, suddenly felt abandoned and deserted, shunned by our cadavers moving in lifeless human forms. When returning home safely became a daily struggle, survival was uncertain and death a chasing shadow, petrified people couldn’t see beyond their cages and rankling chains.
I overstayed holidays, two weeks extension over excuses of social obligations and in reality of an untraced cousin. Family was told he had fled to cross the border, part of a group of wannabe militants. Later it came to fore that this group had been intercepted by the army just before crossing over and had been held in captivity. From the uncertainty of across the LoC fate came the uncertainty of release, if ever. October started on a chilly note and autumn was already suffering pangs of early winter birth. Mornings woke to vapor covered windowpanes and followed with bloodied haze, limiting vision and recognition; people falling like faceless mannequins, all of them similarly white in the end.
Just days before my extended holidays were to end, on afternoons when the sun seemed like an malnourished child in visible form but unable to stand by itself, I saw the old man at the same place chasing some school buses, searching for something. Then one day it rained heavily, so much so that the car wipers had to work hard to let me have some view of the road, and there again I saw this old man in his unformed brown and squall like questioning wrinkles, on the same spot, standing in some wait. Rain soaking him to the skin, his frail face was dripping like some roof edge in a torrent. I drove my car up close to offer him some safety from these unrelenting rains; he waved his hand signaling me to leave and turned his face away. Moving ahead, I watched him from a distance, realizing how we flee the rain, while he was wearing it.

Soon it was time to leave, over same old paths of abandoned roads, bunker milestones, peeping unlatched light machine guns and fortressed airport, where an air of impending war always hung like an invisible sword. It was not before next August that I came back on brief holidays. The road to home had become lengthier, more bunkers propping up enroute, a new paramilitary camp closer to home, this one limiting our sojourns to shorter hours. ‘Aap ki suraksha aap ke haath’ (your safety is in your hands) I read somewhere, meaning the less you frequent out the more secure you will be. Although in some cases even this precaution was not known to have worked. On a weekend drive to downtown, stopping by the shrine gates I looked at the half broken parapet, but there was no trace of the tempest-wrinkled old man. Few more visits to this place over coming days yet there still was no trace of the tempest wrinkled old man. Trying to satisfy my inquest, presumed that the previous autumn sighting of the old man was just a coincidence. But this was to change after a few days.

By the weekend it was time to bid farewell and I again dragged over old bunker lined roads to the war-decorated airport. The Indian Airlines flight to Delhi was late by two hours, we lesser mortals made thankful it was even flying to forsaken Srinagar. In the disquiet of the ramshackle airport, I met W, my childhood friend from downtown (close to that shrine) who was flying to Canada. Since we had plenty time to kill, talked about old times, downtown, our friends, two of them had been put to sleep early, and then we sat quiet for a few minutes, in hurtful remembrance. Then suddenly as I remembered the old man of the previous autumn, my friend paused and then narrated me his story.

He had been a teacher of some repute, who struggled against all odds to give his kids, a son and a daughter, the best of education and inculcation. Around the second year of conflict in the valley, his son had cleared high school in merit and was preparing for professional entrance examinations. Early spring that year; one afternoon close to the shrine gates, near the half broken parapet, personnel in an armored vehicle picked his son, as he was walking back home. Even as locals had identified the local unit who whisked him away, the unit remained in permanent denial. For the next two years the old man scouted all camps and offices, used every meager resource he had, pleaded with everyone he could, but nothing came of it. During this time many instances of hope and hopelessness arose, like when the renegade from a north Kashmir town, claiming close links with uniformed officials, offered to locate his son. The old man parted with some papers and thousands of rupees, was taken to two camps in the frontier district, and when nothing came of these, over the next few months the renegade had vanished. By the end of the second year, the old man’s wife was diagnosed with malignancy, two surgeries that drained all residual resources he had and few months later on a bleak January morning she passed away. In her last days, she imagined conversations with her lost son. He is said to have silently shouldered her coffin to the grave and then sat there till late evening, with no tear or word. When every hope and means were erased, the old man went adrift, waiting for his son at the same half broken parapet. Sometimes he had lost sense of time and age, searching for his son in school buses, other times he would just sit there for hours and gaze endlessly into nothing. Last February, on a numbing winter day his dead body was found by the edge of that old shop, leaning by those rusty unlocked shutters. An old pencil box was found clasped in his hands and a school identity card in his pocket.

As I looked out of the airport window, grayish dark clouds gathered and a gloomy drizzle had started. It was time to leave. 

From the barbed city !

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Author: Saadut
•11:06 PM

Amarjit Singh Dulat, an Indian Police Service from Rajasthan Cadre (1965), formerly served as special director of the (Indian) Intelligence Bureau and then as chief of Indian spy agency RAW (1999 to 2000). Post retirement he adjusted as ‘advisor on Kashmir’ in the Prime Minister’s Office (January 2001 to May 2004). As an experienced spy chief, Mr. Dulat knows the limitations of his revelations, the scope of his official NDA’s (non disclosure agreements) and the effect any such revelations may have on the policy of New Delhi upon the Jammu & Kashmir conflict.

And in ‘revealing’ all that he has written or spoken, Mr. Dulat must surely have measured and calibrated enough, to reach an aim on Kashmir, especially when he is a member of ‘National Security Advisory Board’. His aim could be a combination of psycho ops, dart in the blind and making a fast buck on the much thrashed print on Kashmir. Even while the ex spy chief would be privy to many inside stories and game plans on Kashmir, none of those facts are ever to come out for they would treat as breach of professionalism, nationalism and Chanakya’ism for an ex spy.

Still yet, as a Kashmiri layman, I will try to dissect his latest revelations:

Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was against making Mufti Muhammad Sayeed the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir because of “grave doubts that his daughter Mehbooba Mufti had militant links.”

What role did Indian PM Vajpayee have in making Mufti Sayeed the CM, when the alliance was supposed to be between Congress & PDP? Does Mr. Dulat mean that the Indian PM has a veto to ‘choose’ who rules J&K, even when the electorate may have voted their political preferences?

Chief of Hizbul Mujahideen, Syed Salahuddin sought a favour from Intelligence Bureau (IB) that his son be given a medical seat in a college in Kashmir which was agreed to.

In 2000, Syed Salahudin’s son Syed Wahid was selected for MBBS with a merit rank of 92 thru CET (Common Entrance Test). Till he appeared for the examination and cleared it on his own merit not many would have even known that he is Syed Salahudin’s son. After being admitted in Medical College at Jammu, the only help he sought from authorities was to migrate to the Medical College in Kashmir, since he was facing life threats in Jammu. In such cases it is the duty of the state to ensure security, not any favor.
I have had the opportunity to interact with Wahid’s brother during an interview where I was part of the panel. The gentleman was unassumingly down to earth and capable, and we knew not about his family. I could see his merit working for him, not his name. And I am sure his other brothers are of the same hardworking, meritorious ilk. Dulat’s claim could have two reasons; to discredit Syed Salahudin and to show the largesse of India, even on separatists. But he fails on both counts. On the first count, whatever political ideals groups in Kashmir may have, all of them know the unflinching stance of Syed Salahudin. And on the second count, Dulat makes a joke of the Indian largesse in Kashmir by limiting it to a single medical seat. To shatter his Indian largesse delusion, the Indian army needs to forward a copy of the 500 crore Kashmir flood rescue bill to Mr Dulat.

‘Farooq – Delhi Deal’: Vajpayee wanted to make Farooq Abdullah as Vice President but reneged on the promise. “This was part of an idea Vajpayee had to make Omar Abdullah Chief Minister of Kashmir whilst making his father Farooq Vice President,”

Was this the Vajpayee solution to ‘The Kashmir problem’? If yes then what was the Agra summit for? Dulat’s claim that ‘Vajpayee had to make Omar Abdullah Chief Minister of Kashmir’ only verifies claims of election rigging in Kashmir. Dulat should have been brave enough to explain this further like others had done before.

‘It is widely believed that the elections of 1987 were rigged in favour of Mr Abdullah's party’. (BBC, 14 September, 2002)

‘The 1987 elections did not “appear to be rigged,” but were in fact rigged’. (D Suba Chandran, IPCS)

‘The manipulation of (1987) elections disappointed Kashmiris. They said “we were trying to change the political framework by democratic and peaceful methods, but we have failed in this. Therefore we should take up the gun” (Kashmir In Conflict; India Pakistan And The Unending War, Victoria Schofield).

And if 1987 was not enough of democratic fraud, the next election had a similar story. 'The Meadow' (Adrian Levy, Cathy Scott-Clark) describes how Farooq Adbullah & Rajesh Pilot used renegades and money to rig the elections of 1996 in Kashmir.

‘Governor Saxena calmed Farooq Abdulla’; Dulat recounted the “fury and anger” of Farooq Abdullah when he was informed that three militants had to be released as part of the IC 814 deal. He said “Farooq ventilated his anger for three hours and then stormed off to meet Governor Saxena intending to resign. However, Governor Saxena calmed him down over two glasses of whisky and Farooq, eventually, accepted the situation and agreed to the release of militants.”

According to Dulat, Farooq Abdulla agreed to free three militants over two glasses of whisky. Only proves how easy it was for New Delhi to control the ‘rulers’ of J&K for the past six decades. This then begs a question, what easy deal was offered (dare I say how many glasses) for signing the death warrant of Late Maqbool Bhat? And what was the deal New Delhi offered Omar to agree on the hanging of Late Afzal Guru?

Dulat says Mirwaiz Umar Farooq “lacks political courage”. “He is scared he could be killed, and scared of the ISI and Pakistan.”

Do Mirwaiz’s repeated efforts to resolve Kashmir by dialogue mean, lack of ‘political courage’? What kind of ‘political courage’ is Dulat talking about when India refuses to even start any meaningful talk to untangle the Kashmir issue? It’s India which lacks political will or courage by refusing to talk or let people speak, not Mirwaiz or other Hurriyat groups.
Dulat’s second contention is amateurish at best. After his father and uncle were killed by assailants, wouldn’t Mirwaiz have to be extra cautious for his personal safety? Not only was the state in know of the risks facing the Mirwaiz family, they seem to be unwilling to cover those risks. In such a scenario in Kashmir, it is not only the state that has to be feared but the non state and the deep state too. Since the deep state is the core of the state, hence the greatest risk in Kashmir comes from the state only.

‘Agra Summit’ : Dulat says that a meeting L K Advani had with Gen Musharraf the night before soured the atmosphere. “This is when Advani surprised Musharraf by asking for Dawood Ibrahim. This took Musharraf back and a shadow was cast thereafter on the Agra summit.”

Fact: The July 15th talks between Vajpayee and Musharraf culminated into the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan completing an accord by evening same day. The Pakistani delegation retired for the night believing that July 16th was going to be a big day on Kashmir. But on the same night of July 15th Advani asked to see the draft, following which RSS President Sudarshan had Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi (Minister for HR) take over and prepare a revised draft. By the next morning Vajpayee had been reduced to a spectator and Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh humiliated by his own staffer V. K. Katju (then JS in-charge Pakistan desk MEA) who refused to show him the revised draft document. As Major General Rashid Qureshi, DG Inter Services public relations later put it "The joint statement prepared by foreign ministers was changed three times by an unseen power".

The problem with Kashmir is not only that the same people responsible for igniting and fueling the insurgent rebellion of late 80’s & 90's are the ones who clung to power and decided our fate in the after years. Tragedy is also that India has not stopped its deep state control in Kashmir. The same people who have entrenched their aristocratic hold on its power structure, continue to lead a red flag herd to 'all'e karre waangan karr'e, Babb karr'e lo'lo' (Gourd or aubergine, whatever we are sold for, Bab (leader) may do whatever he pleases). And the likes of Dulat only try to be their advocates.
And over decades we were truly sold as cheap as gourd and aubergine.
The close to 80,000 innocent Kashmiris would have not lost their lives had the political treachery of six decades not robbed us of all our political and economic rights & that too with such brazen impunity.

Teg Munsif ho' jahaan daar-o-rasan ho'n Shaahid,
Begunaah kaun hai uss shehar mei'n qaatil ke siwaa.

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Author: Saadut
•11:22 PM

The wedding of Ashok Jaitley’s daughter was held in March 2001 (I think 30th) at Kashmir house, which he got specially prepared for this wedding. Aditi Jaitely was the daughter of Ashok and Jaya Jaitley, who had got divorced in 80’s. Jaya later became associated with Samta Party of Geoege Fernandes, also working with marginal artisans and workers at the grassroots level. Aditi was to marry cricketer Ajay Jadeja, who had been earlier disgraced in a match fixing scandal.

I knew George Fernandes from my early students union days (90’s) and later briefly during my engineering days. Many a time when I would return on holidays to India (and Kashmir) I would be invited to small talks at 3 K.M Marg, where I was called the ‘algaav’vaadi’. Those days I found Geroge Fernandes was one of the few people who wished to get Kashmir resolved, but somehow the political combinations of New Delhi would not allow him to exercise as he wished (at least that is the impression I carried).
In later years, during one such talk Jaya told me about the marriage of her daughter and informally invited me, but I never attended it. Many months (don’t remember how many, or was it years after) after the marriage, this was told to me:

‘The young couple had been invited by Ashok Jaitely to visit Kashmir and stayed at the renovated Papa 2 (now Fairview) residence of the then Chief Secretary (Aditi’s father). Early next morning, after the couple had stayed there, they (especially the groom) reported hearing shrieks and strange cries during the night. Cries of someone in extreme pain, someone crying for life. The period they stayed there, the same cries kept repeating.’ 
Ashok Jaitley was earlier known to have performed some rituals and rites to exorcise the new premises before moving in.

Kashmiris knew this place as one of the many torture centres that consumed many innocents during the turmoil of 90’s. Many of the other interrogation and torture centres were also housed in homes of migrant Pandits, occupied by Indian forces at various locations, where local youngsters would be subject to terrible torture, some of them never returned home.

The place my family lives now in was once a part of a large orchard, occupied by Indian militaries (anti insurgency unit), know for its brutal methods locally. In later years by the end of 90’s they had shifted from here. And it was then that my family purchased part of this orchard, unknown to us its old tales. When we started constructing the new house, there were these big walnut trees on the farthest eastern corner of the orchard. In the winter of our first year, when construction started for the new house, right after autumn had stripped these large tress of all its green, I one day noticed three large iron hangers, looking like broken ‘T’ shaped nails on the largest of these walnut trees, which stood in the centre and under which was once presumably was pitched a fortified enclosure of Indian militaries. It was in mid winter that two local boys, who worked a labourers on our construction site, told me that this was where many locals had been once tortured and often hung upside down on ropes, by these armed militaries. For the next two years that our construction continued we would fear to stray near these walnut trees till late. Much before we started living in the new place these walnut trees had been infected with moth like worms, eating them from inside, as if stuck by some ‘post traumatic stress’ internally. Later even though their new owners felled these trees, I sometimes remember hearing hurried steps in the distance of a silent night. Those few nights were terrible, in that, I would imagine voices of distress from a distance but would be unable to tell about these events to my family. In later years, those voices stopped, as the human complacency tried to cloak all our memories of a painful past, a past that continues to live within us.

All `of these centers, erstwhile fortifications and the unknown existing, must have their own stories of pain and night rendezvous; endings we may never know of. The blank of what happened to all those thousands of young men will stare us in the face forever.

Lahoo naa ho' tou kalaam tar'jumaan nahee hotaa,
Harare dour mai'n aan'suun zubaa'n nahee hotaa.

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Author: Saadut
•10:48 PM

Growing reach and accessibility of Internet in the past decade, breaking all geo-political barriers, allowed easy dissemination of information and propagation of ideas. In 2009 when we got introduced to Twitter, the Yahoo rooms and Orkut generation was still weary of the reach of social networks. With not much of an idea about Twitter, many of us joined, only to be the early birds there. For much of early days Twitter and Facebook remained a discovery in progress, with limited reach and participation. The 2009 of Kashmir found minimal audience on such platforms. Even though then some social media campaigns were launched by tweeples from Kashmir, including #FreeFaizan , most of the traffic on social media was generated after 2010 events of the valley, where chocking of alternate channels by the state pushed many people towards social networks. I remember hearing the news of Machil fake encounter and the following Tufail Mattoo killing, which provided the ignition and fuel to 2010 protests, from personal friends and not on social networks. A feeling of helpless disgust followed this news. Howard Zinn had famously said “Protest beyond the law is not a departure from democracy; it is absolutely essential to it” but Kashmir was no democracy and its people never treated as subjects by the state. Few of the early twitter users from Kashmir, who I knew used it exclusively for personal social networking, got baptized into known voices from Kashmir in later years.

Since early adopters of social media were few and audience fewer, its impact and reach was also limited. I remember in 2010 my follower count on Twitter kept fluctuating between 920 to 1150, of which only 20% were from Kashmir. Contrast to this Facebook was growing faster than other platforms, with its ability to allow friend requests be vetted, functionality to create pages and groups, and comments on posts forming a conversation trail. So when recently a local journalist I have never seen or met, blamed my Twitter handle for contributing to the 2010 “*my twitter handle* the man who stirred the blood of the Kashmiris with his Tweets for Azadi in 2010 turmoil” (am not even pointing to his grammar mistakes here), I could not but laugh enough at his knowledge. The social media anger against the 2010 killings in Kashmir was mainly seen on Facebook and not on Twitter. There were dedicated FB pages updating about the happening in Kashmir, like ‘Bekaar Jamaath’ (this group got 14,000 page likes in few months of 2010), ‘Koshur Rebel’, ‘Sangbaaz’, ‘Aalav’ etc. A Washington Post report of 2nd September, 2010, wrote ‘Muslims use Facebook, YouTube in Kashmir fight. Web becomes tool in resistance to Indian rule’. While there is no denying that our Twitter handles did protest the mayhem of 2010, but since the audience and follower count on Twitter was very less, its reach was limited & such protests remained feeble and unnoticed. An overwhelming majority of protest traffic was generated on FaceBook only, where discussion groups and pages were dedicated to the 2010 events. And that’s the reason why reports from International media do not even mention Twitter their ‘2010 report on social media use in Kashmir’ (contrary to the claim of the knowledgeable journalist from Kashmir).

The State Watches You !

The state not only aggressively kept monitoring social networks during and after the 2010 mayhem in Kashmir, they also forced many arrests silencing those protesting voices. Yet still, post 2010 not only proved to be a watershed in the political arrangements of Kashmir (even though some politicians still refuse to learn from those tragic years), it also increased the participation of people towards social media, as an alternative medium to speak up. And it was in the post 2010 years that Twitter use grew in Kashmir, not only opening up voices but also increasing covert state surveillance. While anonymity on social media in uncertain Kashmir could be seen as a safety cover, it also allowed surveillance to mingle anonymously with these users from Kashmir, often pretending to be sympathetic to their cause. Many arrests of anonymous Facebook admins from downtown Srinagar in the following year were made after a covert media person (handle) had befriended them and succeeded in meeting them in person.

Some time ago I was called to meet a very senior ‘non civil’ official. As I waited in his office, a senior officer from his staff asked “are you Mr Saadut?” I nodded “but how do you know me?” He stood up and shook my hands warmly (and as if awestruck) “we have been following your social media for long.” Suddenly his other colleagues, also senior officers, whispered something to the first officer, smiled in some agreement, came out to shake my hands, one even embracing me. Found that, not only did they know me in both real and virtual form, they subscribed to my views and posts. Moral of the story, a) you are not as anonymous as you think and b) there are thinking humans inside the establishment too, who feel like you.

Honey Pot !!

As anger on ground increased due to political anarchy and policies of Indian government, thousands of genuine voices joined social media to express themselves. As is with the chaff of the grain, along with genuine voices came some dubious traffic too. As if covert surveillance was not enough to bother about, some ‘honey pots’ too joined the #FreeKashmir fray. In a peculiar case that I studied for long, a ‘honey pot’ had befriended seven Kashmiri handles over a period of two years, claiming intimacy to each of the seven separately. At a given time, at least three ‘virtual relationships’ were found to be running parallel. Over four years, nine Kashmiri twitter handles had fallen prey, out of which four had been forced out of Twitter after their anonymous mask had been exposed. When I stumbled on a treasure of ‘chat & mail logs’ (don’t ask me how), found all handles had been fed different lies, often pitching one against the other, and yet ironically none of the nine handles never had ever seen or known the ‘honey pot’ in real. While all of them had Azadi on TL, some of them were pursuing ‘cross border trade via private chats’, other naive ones were offering hearts. The ‘summer of betrayal’ had passed all of them & ‘Kashmir jehad’ morphed into ‘love jehad’.

Social media has the potential of creating a larger than life image of people you may have not seen or met, exclusively based on their Timeline patterns. In many instances these images may match with the persona, but in some cases such images could be cultivated by over ambitions people. A Twitter handle from up north (any like him out there) has this peculiar habit of copying tweets, DP’s and even bio’s, only to sound more intelligent and educated. Such people, mistake social networks for some class test that they can copy and pass. 

We The Hypocrites !

Social networks are also a classic case of hypocrisy for some. In some people, disenchantment with everything else morphs into rebellious tone, only for wanting to sound a part of the popular sentiment. In the following years, on social media I stumbled on many such people. Sample this, a businessman who supplies to the local Indian army core area during the day, converts into an anti-establishment voice in the evening. An engineer, who used political connections (his local MLA) to get transferred from south Kashmir district to Srinagar, lambasts the same system in leisure. A little known journalist who has been groomed by many Army officials and is frequently seen in their company, becomes critical of other free speakers among civilians. The north Kashmir boy whose parents pleaded with the local pro India leader for his career, claims to the exclusive Azadi rebel. Another social media handle espouses the Azadi dream on TL and reverts to ‘love jihad’ in direct messaging (actually many of them). My intention is not to be prying into their private lives, but ‘thou shalt not blame others, for what you practice’. We are not each other’s conscience keepers, but let’s draw a line between personal lives and our virtual social media avtars. There has to be a difference between working for the administrative state and working FOR the DEEP state. The administrative state has support systems not only in employees, but contractors, suppliers, shopkeepers, workmen, peasantry and even laborers. And the ‘deep state’ has only covert people, who assume different identities and work for something else. Tragically the myopic we, common people, only see and blame the administrative state as the villain, who in fact has no power over things in a conflict zone.

Social media is a paradigm shift, in terms of allowing common people to speak up, where conventional media is either throttled in conflict situations or driven by political interests. In such scenarios the only platform where common people can express freely, present facts or voice an opinion is social media. And it has got to fore some daring and positive voices from Kashmir, who have fearlessly taken to speak the truth. Not only have these voices been at the forefront of campaigns demanding justice for the victims of this conflict, they have also increased awareness about Kashmir to the outside world. Even if these voices may have contributed incremental in bringing out awareness about Kashmir, this contribution is huge, especially keeping in mind the gigantic state sponsored media machine they are pitted against. It is these honest voices that are the torch bearers of the Kashmiri narrative. They stand distinctly apart in the confusion of social media on Kashmir. God speed !

Following the uproar on hounding of certain social media users India, the Indian Union government was forced to accept in the Supreme Court ‘that posting comments on Facebook and other social media would not be an offence under Section 66A of the IT Act if such comments related to freedom of speech and expression’. However, since Kashmir is usually seen outside the domain of mainland India, political forces hounding voices like mine on social media is not a new thing. Having lived in the Papa Kishtiwari Kashmir and not wanting to end up Haji Yousuf’esque, I shall hence limit my political criticism on social media. I shall however continue to speak in whatever form and measure I can.

Like Meinhof said “Protest is when I say I don't like this. Resistance is when I put an end to what I don't like. Protest is when I say I refuse to go along with this anymore. Resistance is when I make sure everybody else stops going along too.” We all here are merely protestors, raising a voice. None of us can claim to be any resistance to the status quo unless we refuse to be a part of it, any part of it.

Will any of those sermonizing ‘resistance’, give up your passport, your univ, your job, your amenities and your identity card? 


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Author: Saadut
•9:02 PM

Zindagi tou apney kadmou'n par chaltee hai Faraz:
Aurou'n key sahaarey tou janaaze'y utha kar tey hain

Most people miss the fine print in a story, like the red herrings that goes unread. The troll traffic generated by my deputation to an IT driven project, is unprecedented for me. But most of these comments are coming from those who may know nothing about me, some from friends who expected me to survive on words, while some comments by trolls who would otherwise also abuse.

It becomes easy to judge people on assumption or prejudiced opinions. Never in the past two decades that I have been writing, have I assumed or yearned to assume any leadership role in the political mess of Kashmir. All my opinions have been personal opinions, distanced from my professional profile or private life. For those who claim I was anonymous for some gains couldn’t be more wrong. Even while anonymity on some social media platforms in Kashmir is a survival tool, yet my writings, my site links, audio-video archives always identified me. And this too came at a cost. While my social media friends, who feel dejected that I am part of some new professional project temporarily, may have wanted me to not be part of it, but twitter and facebook don’t feed grains, and there is a personal life beyond these social networks. These virtual friends also were nowhere to be seen whenever I faced the brunt, like two years back when I was attacked physically by fleeting assailants, only a day after I had been critical of the then dispensation. With a cut face, fractured nose, bleeding eye, none of the virtual friends of social media were of any help in the real world. If virtual friends share my political ideals, will you share the brickbats & attacks too?

Since when was a ‘(temporary) deputation for a project on existing perks’ a new job or gain? Maybe those who see it as a ‘new job’ need to ask a refund from their English teachers. Have been in the IT industry for more than two decades, from a time when most of these commentators would have been in school yet. Interestingly been a consultant to another project in an NC govt of another era; that consultancy for free. So if people had no problem then, why now?

Ironically those who came hunting for me since yesterday were;

a  a) Virtual friends on social networks who thought I eat and drink politics. Please, all Kashmiris have a political opinion in addition to professional workplaces; especially regarding the resolution to this conflict. I have such an opinion too. If you liked my opinion, you subscribed, if you disliked you had the freedom to ignore. My workplaces may have changed many times in two decades; my personal opinions have not, never did. Your interpretation is your own right & I respect that, for I don’t speak for you nor do you speak for me.

    b) People who subscribe to New Delhi’s view on Kashmir. Guys our views are different, but that does not give you a license for slander. We can peacefully hold on to our differing views. ‘Friends’ from rightwinged PK type groups, especially my schoolmate (who ceases to be a friend after his tirade against me) and a writer are prominent mud slingers, even when I have always kept a respectful distance from them. They are understandably prejudiced against me (like their hate for every Kashmiri muslim), since I wrote about real experiences during 90’s of Kashmir, puncturing their claims ( read here). Koshurs who survived the 90’s are witness to what happened back then. We treat you as sons of soil and you have the right to counter us with facts, but slander is too cheap. 

Not only did such people resort to slander, but they ran a vicious hate campaign against local Kashmiris, often resorting to rumor mongering & promotion of hate (link here). Such hate mongering resulted in endangering the safety of thousands of Kashmiris in mainland India, like the attacks on Kashmiri students those happened in various institutions. Tragically it remains unclear why the previous dispensation did not curb such rumor mongering aimed at promoting communal tension, under relevant sections. 

c  c) Political groups I have differed with; Am I the exception among commoners for having criticized political parties? The disenchantment of Kashmiris with political groups is decades old and I have been only one among millions of voices expressing that. Instead of learning to lend an ear to ground and listen to common people, they resorted to witch hunting. Holding a political opinion which goes contrary to their view should not have been a crime, had it not been Kashmir. Such political groups not only attacked voices like me physically, but also worked to undermine our lives and safety. When the previous CM took oath, lot of people including me had pinned huge hopes on him, envisaging him to be a different politician. But 2009 deflated those hopes and then 2010 changed it all. The inability of any government to govern properly should not be blamed on the critics who point to its deficiencies. Hounding critics then becomes part of the political failure. Knowing the realities of Kashmir, I should not have dared to take cudgels with his dispensation, mindful of the repercussions, which did take place and I suffered. I am guilty of speaking up, not speaking wrong.  

Of course there are also some people who want no redressal systems should be in place for common people, since conflict and chaos suits their existence. But then no government does you a favor by listening to and resolving public service issues. If all those who are hounding, feel common people don’t deserve to be heard, please come forward and take the responsibility.

Typically reminds me of a story I heard years ago,

A man is taken on a guided tour of hell by hell demons. Outside each hell dungeon belonging to an ethnic group, there is a guard to prevent the escape of these hell dwellers. Surprisingly on one such hell dungeon, he sees no guard on the gate. On asking about the reasons for an unguarded dungeon gate, he is told ‘this hell dungeon belongs to Koshurs, and they don’t need any guards. Since if any one tries to escape, there are ten others who will pull him down to further depths.”

P.S: This also displays the power of social media, when the President of powerful party along with his team resorts to nonstop trolling of an obscure Twitter handle. The same political forces some years back ensured that I was physically attacked and I am fearful of a repeat of such incidents now. When the powerful get scared of your criticism, know you’re your criticism is genuine. They could have blocked such voices if the criticism was not based on facts. Instead of introspection, resorting to all sorts of attacks is a sad display of political arrogance. My two cents “Sir you are one of the most powerful persons in Kashmir, carrying the legacy of a powerful political family. Your trolling and attacking a nondescript commoner will be seen as stooping too low, like the proverbial elephant wanting to trample an ant. We have political differences; don’t take them to heart.”

 I may have been threatened on social networks but I shall continue to be there. Adios !

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