‘Ma’am how do you parents support your decision, to go to Kashmir, right now?’, asks one of the students. ‘Forty darling, I am forty!’ I reply. But I have been saying that ever since I was eighteen and of course one couldn’t have told a class full of impressionable twenty year olds that in my younger years, I would be bashed up and locked up, for my rebellion. They’ve sloooooowllly resigned after trying really hard to discipline me.
Mum, who would actually feel bad, if something was to happen to me, doesn’t say much. She knows me so she knows, I always do what I think, needs to be done. ‘ I love you’, she tells me as I leave. I’m glad she doesn’t realise the enormity of the situation. The Father, reacts as he usually does, with sarcasm, yelling and abusing. ‘Tumhare jessa baccha hone se accha, na hona!’ This helps me more than he realises- pricks my ego, doesn’t make me miss home and I end up taking it all out on any man with authority.
The ex assistant worries, as does my dad’s driver. Don’t fight with anyone, please don’t fight with anyone, they plead with me. My intolerance for bs, is well known but somehow I will try, to keep a lid on it. Somehow!
On the fourth day of the Kashmir lockdown, Ghulam Nabi Azad was stopped at Srinagar Airport and sent back. Prime minister Modi , reassured people in his address to the nation that the Union territory status, is temporary and the locals would be allowed to celebrate Eid. Kashmiris remain cut off from each other, as well as the rest of the world. News of hundreds injured and six dead, somehow manages to reach the mainstream media. A number of separatists are said to have been shifted out of the Valley, while Kashmiri diaspora organises protests in London and Germany. Nitasha Kaul, an eminent Pandit, speaks to the international media against the abrogation of Provisions of article 370. Kashmir is said to be the most dangerous place in the world at the moment and tomorrow I will be stepping into it. I’m assuming this is my last post, till, (if) I return. Godspeed.
Protests against the revocation of article 370, were organised in New Delhi by the Left, on the 5th of August. Article 370 was sprung on the people, revoked by the BJP government, just the way demonisation was unceremoniously sprung on the whole of India. This decision taken in haste has already lead to deaths in the Valley.
From unofficial sources, news is spreading ( since all official means have been shut down) that the Rashtriya Rifles are present on the streets of Kashmir. JKP can’t be seen anywhere. Rumour has it, that in Noorbagh area people tried to break the curfew. The locals only became aware of the revocation, when the announcement was made in certain masjids. Cable, mobile, even landlines are snagged. A doctor has confirmed three to four deaths and apparently there is stone pelting taking place, in certain parts.
Meanwhile, protests take place in different parts of the world against the revocation. In the University of Dhaka, the students carried on a protest, a US based Muslim organisation is going to organise a protest, too. Whereas Pakistan has tried to get the support of Turkey and Malaysia. Even in India, various organisations are dissenting against the move.
On the flip side, news is filtering in that most people in Ladakh, have welcomed the move to bifurcate the state and turn Ladakh into a Ut According to them- Ladakh was being given step motherly treatment. The funds that were supposed to be given to Ladakh, were being given to Kashmir. Educational institutes, funds, jobs were being given to Jammu and Kashmir and basically development would take place after Ladakh, would be totally integrated into India.
In July when I visited Gurez, there was something off about the way people were speaking. The them versus us, drawing room conversation that one tries to not get agitated by, in Delhi, I was suddenly hearing in what I thought was the Kashmir Valley. Up until now, it was but I’ve been replaying that over and over in my head today and now I have my doubts. ‘Madam hum Kashmiri nahin he! Madam Kashmirio se hum ache he. Madam humari bhasha alag he! Madam hum Hindustani he!’ The Shina speaking Dards of Gurez told me all this. I assumed that because the person I banged into was a Bhakt, a member of the BJP, that’s the reason, I was hearing all this. ‘Humme Ladakh ke saath aane chahiye!’ I discarded as just regular conversation, as I do all the hate mongering that comes out of the mouths of some relatives based in Jammu.
The past week, we all knew something terrible was going to happen- the revocation of the articles was an agenda, we all suspected that would happen but the downgrading of a state to, make it into a UT, has taken everybody by surprise. But we can trust the Modi-Shah duo, drunk in their supreme power, to not treat Kashmiris like people. After all they didn’t spare their own Hindu brethren during demonitisation, or like many of us suspect, earlier this year, too!
So while the rest of India screams, ‘Hail Hitler!’, the few of us in the crowd, just hang our heads, yet again, in shame, For going back on India’s word by not including or even consulting the Kashmiris, for making a mockery of democracy and most of all for spreading fear amongst the people of Kashmir, the yatries, the casual workers and the press. ‘Hindustan Zindabad’ they yell deliriously, while a four year old, sits locked up in her house in Kashmir, wondering when she will go to school? where should she play and a few months into the lockdown what should she eat?