Friday, 29 July 2016

Where Do We Go Now?

I am finding it hard to return to my blog every time with news this sad, this unbearable. So, I must get it off my chest.

A five year old kid has been blinded by India's CRPF in Kashmir "for abusing them". Now hold your arguments and let this sink in.

A five year old kid. Most 5 year olds I know are not able to speak properly. Language is still foreign at that age.


Blinded by inserting something sharp into his eye. Something like needles, steel pellets, or a bicycle spoke. Let that gore sink in.

You will not find too many lovers of India this side in the darkness.

I am sure some Indian media-wallah or walli will soon get you the righteous CRPF perspective on how justified this attack is.

At the risk of repeating myself I must say that India is a violent country that has no moral standing on Kashmir.

This depressing epiphany of Kashmir only ebbs and flows. I was talking to a friend and couldn't place it in the mind. What did these kids die for? The 50 killed in 2016 and the hundreds killed in 2010. This batch in our school of death. In the grand scheme of things, where do these kids - born at the wrong place, at the wrong time - fit? The enemy is still here, the weapons are the same, the excuses too. Where do we go from here?

Sometimes, I am reminded of a death in a village - somewhere in south or north of Kashmir and I cannot remember the name of the dead. He is just, I dare say, a shadow in my memory. I never knew him (or her) personally, and  was grieved by his death for some time and for a little longer by the  tragedy of Kashmir. But, I don't have to live with his death - Kashmir has to. And as a Kashmiri, he is now a painful stake in that part of my conscience. He is an entity who didn,t exist for me till he ceased to exist, and now we, as Kashmiris, must live in this dolour and add more fuel to the collective fire of our anger. I don't maintain a diary other than a few blogs here of the deaths in Kashmir, but knowing of the fine young men who died in the state's vendetta is an introduction I would rather not have. I don't even put a face to this recollection of death. I can't.

Kashmir brings out the best and worst in people. I've been shocked at the vitriol directed at the innocent dead. At the whole of the Kashmiri Muslim population. At me. At Asif, by extension, who just wants to earn money "to be happy" - and live in Kashmir to support his family. In a free Kashmir. But, there are others in India, and this time I am surprised by their numbers, who spoke up for Kashmir. For Kashmiris. For us. This is perhaps the best time for Indians to speak up against the actions of their nation in Kashmir. It is possible to be perfectly patriotic without having to be against that idea of another population's.

Oliver Goldsmith wrote a wonderful essay about loving your own country without hating others. I used to wonder if it is possible in the Indian context. Whether Indians can fathom Kashmir a separate entity without having to send their army to force an "integration"? But social media has shown me that it is possible. Ordinary Indians, not Arundhati Roys, have commented, come out in protests, shown solidarity - either with the idea of Independence or saving human lives in Kashmir. This to me is a start. Of course their number is small and insignificant, but it is the power of the idea that interests me. It is the acceptance of a people's right. It is a step for Indians to sympathize with Kashmir and look outside the twisted tales of their televisions. And listen to the ordinary Kashmiris, like Asif. Most (or many more) I am sure will be willing to move over the history and geography lessons of a standard high school and accept the new realities of Kashmir and its relation with India. A friendly divorce over a forced marriage. How many more Kashmiris to be blinded before Indians open their eyes?

I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. - Anne Frank

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