Kashmir is an issue which needs to be heard

The Realisation:

Hidden in the lies of history, written in stone by men made of straw,

Hollow men, selfish men,

Men who tore apart this country for nothing

Is the realisation that we are all doomed

Doomed to carry the burden of being an outsider in our own home

I did not want to write about this but seeing as we are entering Day whatever (I am not keeping count now) of communication blackout in Kashmir, it is important to highlight the sadness and the lack of humanity in the situation. Instead of focussing on the political aspect of it which honestly affects a handful of people while the rest of the population suffers, I want to talk about how, to a common Kashmiri, this lockdown has affected.

Isolation is what every Kashmiri across the country feels at the moment. People in Kashmir have been isolated inside while the rest have been locked out.

Lakhs of people have been cut off from their families. Eid was a solemn affair. One can only imagine what people in Kashmir are doing without Internet or basic communication services.

Imagine, yourself in their shoes. Internet breaks down for 5 minutes, we reboot the modem 4 times, call our operator at least twice and cuss until it starts working again.

Five minutes.  Now, think about living like that indefinitely with no idea when you will be allowed access to the world. Think about yourself being considered a threat to others to such an extent that you are being isolated from everyone in every way.

Let that sink in.

Coming to my reason for writing this article, Eid came and it went without a phone call from my mother, asking me to get up and offer Eid Namaz, wish me well and cry a little about how much she misses me.

What is worse is the fact that she won’t be able to read this as well.

Now, I realise how much I took that phone call for granted. And I think I have the government to thank for it. Were it not for such drastic measures taken in Kashmir, I would never have realised how much that phone call is important. It is a lesson well learnt. Thank you.

Ever since I became aware of the conflict that Kashmir has been facing even before I was born, I have come face to face with identity crisis. I do not know who I really am, rather what the society expects me to be.

I was born an Indian. However, going into specifics, I was also born in Kashmir, a land torn with conflicts and existential crisis. Being a Kashmiri makes me less of an Indian? Or more of an abomination?

I do not want to prod that wound yet. We are far from there. However, the crisis Kashmir faces today is a cause for concern.

I am not a political person and I do not wish to make this article into one. My main issue from Day 1 has been the complete blindsiding of the people of Kashmir while deciding their fate in Parliament.

Whatever the reason our government came up with for abrogating Article 370, I am fully convinced that the execution was shit.

As leaders of such a huge democratic nation, a dialogue would have been welcome. And if the authorities were so hell bent on pushing this, some transparency would have been nice.

Creating confusion and panic among people who have lived like that for so many years was pure cruel.

Article 370 affects me as a Kashmiri but personally, I couldn’t care less because in the entire mayhem which has been going on for so many days now, I have not been able to talk to my family.

Not exaggerating when I say this, I feel like an orphan. My mother is not able to contact me. From calling me thrice a day, with countless WhatsApp messages, we have not heard each other for so long. Please tell me how this is good for our nation, if a select few are being asked to make such a huge sacrifice.

I have been losing sleep because I am afraid for my mother living in fear and tension.

The land is the same, the hearts are the same. The division is in our minds. My home Kashmir is being treated as a taboo, something spoken in hushed voices over tea during lunch breaks in office.

Let me paint a picture of Kashmir.

Kashmir has been called a paradise on Earth, and it is rightly so. It is a place where even the most majestic views can be seen from one’s kitchen window. You can see stars, which are hardly ever visible in the metropolitan city.

The air is light and breezy. It touches your face with such a warm embrace that feels like a warm hug. The Dal Lake and the shikaras, the barbecue, and the ice cream they serve in Buhur Kadal, the locally made parathas the size of Captain America’s shield, everything is amazing.

The entire valley is breathtaking around Spring time and in winter, the warmth of the hamam and the exciting snowfall makes you feel cozy and at peace.

The place is poetic. But the air in Kashmir, while so refreshing, is always ominous.

You may already know why I say so.

Given the recent panic and hysteria over the uncertainty caused by the speculation over sending additional troops to the valley, Article 35A, cancelling Amarnath Yatra, advisory to tourists to run for their lives, increased border patrol, it has come to mind that Kashmir is bracing for another months-long conflict.

Conflict is not new to a Kashmiri. We have become immune to this word. Other words to throw in the bunch include curfew, firing, bullets, grenades, tear gas, blasts, and IED. A Kashmiri child grows up with these words. And with it, gets insensitive to such horrors.

I do not wish to digress, but given my present state of mind, it is important to provide context lest you are a person who does read a lot of news and is up to date.

At the moment, Kashmir feels like a prison.

I am afraid to speak my mind about Kashmir lest I be taken as an anti-nationalist or a pro-Pakistan person since I am a Kashmiri Muslim.

Yes, it is a difficult time to be alive for someone like me. I have a tag on my forehead and I carry it around my country where I am conveniently pointed out as one who is different, to be given a wide berth. Someone with whom a regular Indian would be hesitant to talk to.

But that is a story for another time.

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