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The Same Story

It snowed here, heavily, in the days after I reached home. Everyone seems happy for the snow: it snowed at the perfect time, in the Chilla-I-Kalaani – a period of the first forty days of winter.

The one comment that I receive, almost from everyone I see, ‘why did you come home in this harsh winter, when every Kashmiri wants to fly outside Kashmir, to comparatively better climates’. Little do they know that it’s what we, those spending time outside the valley, always long for – the fresh air, the beautiful landscapes, snow in the winters, our culture, and everything that’s associated with home; not violence though. Maybe living away from home makes you conscious of your identity, and you accept everything that belongs to you. Electricity in winters, as always, is playing hide and seek, and to cope with the freezing temperatures, the people rely on traditional backups – Kangri and hamams to keep themselves warm.

Kashmir, when compared to the other states of the country, is both different and underdeveloped. Not only in terms of day to day facilities, in terms of work culture too. The conflict has had an impact on everything: authoritarianism and the bad behaviour of officers is just the tip of the iceberg.  

The following Friday as I went to offer prayers I was disappointed to see a divide in our people, a case of religious intolerance, which is hugely consuming Kashmir: the construction of another mosque in our locality by a small group. Recently, we have seen the rise of Salafi Islam, which is poisoning the religious atmosphere in Kashmir. It has an effect on everything, particularly relationships between people, and on the Kashmir struggle itself. It seems in these Postnormal times that even religion has lost its essence. The irony is that the religion which was meant to bind people together is now used to divide us.

There is winter for the political sphere as well. Whether it is presidential rule, governor rule or the rule of the mainstream it seems it is all alike for common Kashmiris. We have seen political leaders changing sides. Many of the leaders who were trying to impress people about the People’s Democratic Party, to get their votes, have now joined its rival party National Conference; now they’ll again be seen fooling the people of the state. One wonders how they could adjust in their new skins so well and so soon. The remaining leaders of the PDP are again seen sympathising with the conflict-ridden-people.

Regardless of all this, the killings of rebels and the civilians continue. There is no respite for them, not even the snow. We are in the same chapter of future history where new rebels are taking up arms while watching their brothers getting killed.

Though, there is always something that keeps the people of my homeland engaged. For example, a social media storm was generated by reaction to the news of the resignation of Shah Faesal from the Indian Administrative Service (IAS). Indeed big news and shocking for many. He was, in 2010, the first one from the state so far who had topped the prestigious IAS exam, ushering in a new wave and encouraged the educated youngsters of Kashmir to join the administrative service. In the words of Shah Faesal he quit his high-status job to ‘protest against the unabated killings in Kashmir’. The people are questioning his political ambitions. They have divisive opinions on his joining politics.

There is again the prediction of snow. This time they say it’ll be heavy. Let’s see how it will affect Kashmir.

Muddasir Ramzan is an aspiring writer and a PhD candidate at the Aligarh Muslim University, he can be reached at [email protected].