‘Older men declare war. But it is youth that must fight and die. And it is youth who must inherit the tribulation, the sorrow and the triumphs that are the aftermath of war.’
From the ages the onset of spring in the valley of Kashmir was heralded by the blossoming of nature, although it holds a life of its own, but it has not that dynamism anymore – the bloodshot-paint is dominating every new season: the blood spilled in the Valley subjugates every other enchantment. Kashmir, which used to be the epitome of natural beauty, has turned into an open battlefield – where anything untoward can happen anytime. The reports of encounters and killings are coming every now and then: lately the killings of civilians in south Kashmir, day in and out fatalities of young rebels in encounters with security forces, and killings in cross-border shelling. In the encounter sites armed forces destroy properties, particularly the houses from where rebels retaliate: for example, a writer who lost everything he had written, along with his house, in a recent encounter between local fighters and the forces. This state repression and collective punishment intensified recently, though it began from the 1990’s, as then the Governor of J&K, Jagmohan, believed that ‘The bullet is the only solution for Kashmiris’.
The masses, in hope and despair, need no convincing, these killings are enough to ignite their reaction. Any thoughtful-mind, even if it’s a part of the occupation, could ask: with the outcome of all this bloodshed, do the people still have any faith in the democracy?
The above quoted words of Herbert Clark Hoover, 31st President of the United States (1929-33), fit well for Kashmir. We see the people, mostly youngsters, not afraid of making the supreme sacrifices – even if they question their intention: Azadi or Jehad; whatever it is, the truth is that our youngsters are getting killed. But, is there any option of living in-between death and liberation, until we’ve something else to substitute to this fighting and getting killed? Like other parts of the state do.
Are special spots in graveyards, exalted funerals, eulogising and justifying their sacrifices, and shutdown calls the only rewards for the ones who are devoured in this war? Or, in order not to forget their sacrifices, are new sacrifices in line to confirm that they died for the great cause and will we keep giving our lives until we achieve that dream? – is this a practical way of achieving freedom?
Yes, people have lost their fear. The new defiant breed of Kashmiris are examples of valour and courage. We have proved against our portrayals of the past as weak-kneed and cowards – an example is the story of the past: when the former ruler of Kashmir, Raja Hari Singh, raised an army battalion entirely from Kashmir stock, the first task assigned to it was to march from Srinagar to Jammu; and the commandant reported that his men were all set except for one thing: they wanted police protection en route.
This monster of occupation has devoured a great portion of Kashmiris from decades. Well, let’s think over it: what’s the outcome of all this! In this war it seems the lone winner is death. The father of a recently slain freedom fighter advised the friends of his son to excel in other fields and not to leave studies mid-way and lace themselves with degrees. ‘Education is the only means for liberation’ probably won’t suit all the people of Kashmir, particularly the ones who are/have been active participants in this war. But I’m sure there are the people who are worried about the future of Kashmir – not only about getting freedom from war, but about other hopes and demands of a nation-state. Let’s try to give it a break: don’t give power to our so called leaders to play on our emotions and think about the other necessities of nation building. Let’s retaliate the words of Herbert Clark Hoover: we must deconstruct the old dictates and come up with a war-free Jammu and Kashmir.
Muddasir Ramzan is an aspiring writer and a PhD candidate at the Aligarh Muslim University, he can be reached at email@example.com.