Saturday, August 28, 2010

hashar-e-firdous

Sitting here in Bangalore, miles away thinking about a place where I was born, place where I grew up, place that I love, place that is bleeding, place that is burning, place that is being subjected to violence unseen, place that is subjected to stress unknown, place where mothers are losing patience, place where fathers are losing hope, place where my brothers are standing up, place where my sisters are losing all, place where life has no meaning, place where death is dancing on streets, place where fear has lost context, place where humanity has lost face, place where everyone is a terrorist, place where everyone is god, place where tears have dried, place where eyes have stoned, place which everyone talks about, place where no one wants to go, place where life used to be, place where graves are more than thee, place that is my Kashmir, place that is heaven to me, place where I was born, place where I want to be.... It was 1989, I was barely 5 , dad was talking to mom that from next day there will be night curfew and army( in Kashmir everyone wearing uniform is army whether its CRPF,BSF or RAF) has been called in. I remember still was very excited to
see the army. Next day waiting all through the day for evening, could not see anyone, next morning got up early to see the army. Told dad about going out, he took me to the window where I could see one guy with gun standing by the shop. So excited was I, knowing very little that 21 years down the line this guy standing under the shop would be a dreaded monster to the many 5 year olds.
Infact generations have grown up under the horrifying shadow of these gunmen. It was understood at that time in 1989 that there was an armed uprising and India had to crush the rebellion, so used all its military might to deal with it. Two decades have gone by, once quoted as the heaven on earth is virtually an army cantonment with more than 700,000 personnel. A few of my friends are of the view that most of them are along the LOC and I buy their point, but argue that there are way too many present in the residential areas too.

Even if these gentlemen in uniform don’t do anything, simply there presence is enough to hurt the psyche. I still remember how I once started crying while going back to home. It was around 6 pm and there used to be night curfews from 6 in the evening to morning sometime. We were coming back to home and it was already dark, there were these CRPF guys all over the place, no one said anything but I started to cry, dad picked me up and tried everything to stop me from crying but nothing helped . Only when I reached home, I stopped. Just trying to drive in the point that uniform has its fear quotient attached and so has the gun. For years now children, women, old, actually all have been subjected to this fear.
Overdose of everything is bad, you lose relevance, you lose the quotient. Today when I see pictures of these kids throwing stones, participating in processions, these women coming out, all these mothers, all these sisters, it’s no surprise. The fear that was stands no more. The psyche has evolved. No longer they fear the CRPF standing outside their gates, leave alone standing, using sticks, tear gases, bullets, anything and everything, nothing has any effect now. Waves after waves come out, defying curfews, defying barbed wires, defying shoot-at-sight, defying death. They are coming out.
I won’t say it is not an armed struggle, it still is. Stones have replaced bullets. It is now stones vs bullets. Millions came out in 2008 against the transfer of land to shrine board. Millions are out again, this time against the suppression, against the draconian laws, against the torture, against India.
Human rights over the years have gone for a toss. Everyone knows what has been happening in Kashmir over the years. How many people have died? How many have disappeared? How many women have been raped? How many suicides have taken place? How many fake encounters? There is another angle to this. What about to human rights of the soldiers?
Thousands of soldiers have died and thousands injured in Kashmir. This type of warfare is more taxing on the soldiers than on the terrorists. Soldiers from other parts of country come to Kashmir are subjected to stress levels that can’t be defined. They should be there enjoying vacations with their families, but for a paltry sum they are made to fight a battle which at first place should not be taking place. Their life only is limited to the bunkers, old houses vacated by the Kashmiri pandits, barbed wires, and now flying stones, procession of millions staring at you from few yards, chanting slogans against India, slogans of freedom.They get up in the morning not knowing from where the next bullet, next stone is going to come from. There is no respite. No sane person would survive this.
Reports from Kashmir strengthen the fact that it is a thankless job with enormous stress levels. About 1800 personnel from JKP have applied for voluntary retirement.A major reason bieng the safety of their kin and fearing alienation from the society. The number of suicides among the paramilitary have been rising exponentially. A spare of thought must be given to their plight as well.
But the question is now to the leadership of this country. Why are you subjecting citizens of your country to this kind of torture? Why is it that there seems no end to this issue? Why always the honorable ministers come up with words and no action? Political solutions are not difficult provided there is honest resolve to diffuse the situation.
This is high time, Indian leadership takes some initiatives and shows some character. Our prime minister talks about anything possible under the constitution. So the first step should be to give the right of living to the people of Kashmir.
The draconian laws like AFSPA, PSA should be revoked.
The paramilitary should be taken out from the residential areas, if possible to the pre-1989 position.
Autonomy as talked by the prime-minister , though a crap concept, can also be an option.
Free and fair elections.
Action against all responsible for custodial killings, fake encounters.
Enquiry into the killing of all the people who have died in these violent crashes.
Judicial enquiries against all commanding officers who allowed firing on the crowd.

And hope that somehow peace prevails. Other options is ofcourse “AZAADI”