The implementation of GST (Goods and Service Tax), a new taxation reform launched in mainland India on 1st July, has already triggered protests by opposition and trade bodies in Jammu and Kashmir. In addition, this week marks the one-year anniversary of last year’s catalyst for Kashmir's unrest – the killing of Burhan Wani. The separatists have called for shutdown. The administration will predictably block the Internet and impose curfew; they already announced summer vacation for students from 6th to 16th July – indeed a clever move. Despite all the restrictions they won’t be able to suppress people’s memories of the recent bloodshed in Kashmir. Due to vacations the educational institutions will be spared, but the streets anticipate mayhem once more. Soon we could be again cut off from the rest of the world. More violence, more killings, more maiming on the horizon. This will lead to strike calls, a prolonging of the ban on internet and other mobile services, plunging the valley into isolation, alone with its darkest fears. But what will we any of this achieve? What have we achieved till now? More than 100 lives lost in the previous year’s unrest, many more injured, blinded, and imprisoned. Yes, fighting for freedom is a protracted struggle, it won’t come easily. But what’s is freedom for if we don’t see the future –young men – so easily trapped in a type of death.
There are sporadic killings, not only the murder of rebels but also civilians; using deadly chemical weapons and blasts causing untold destruction to homes and neighbourhoods. Maybe this is what the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh meant by his idea of a solution. Does it mean that we should stop fighting for our cause? No. The administration has retorted to cheap tactics to handle the situation in Kashmir, even when protests are held peacefully. They disperse even small protests with heavy teargas, shells and pellets, resulting in even more injuries and deaths. So what’s the way out? Maybe we should increase the use of other tools to register our protest through peaceful means!? Our lives aren’t so cheap as to get killed in protest rallies. It pushes Kashmir to slow down in terms of prosperity in every sphere, be it economy, education, or any other aspect of life.
Some people are questioning the validity of marking the anniversary of Wani’s death. Why this selective outrage? Maybe it’s because of his contribution to the freedom movement of Jammu and Kashmir; but isn’t everyone who is fighting and getting killed for this cause contributing to it? If so, then we will have to mark the death anniversaries of all the martyrs, every day will be a death anniversary. Is there a hierarchy in the sacrifices too?!
One thing that a non-Kashmiri (who has a genuine interest in Kashmir) must be wondering is: how do people manage to live in a place amidst protests, encounters, and endless atrocities? Well, we do because we don’t have any other choice, this is out reality. The hope that one day we will live in peace keeps us going, and that nature has blessed us with other assets which the rest of the world can only dream of – the natural bounties, the special qualities in the people and the like.
We can only hope that this week won’t bring bloodshed, won’t carry any tragedy to any family, won’t shatter the dreams of the people who have been witnessing and borne enough disasters. Let’s hope that our youngsters won’t fall easily from bullets, won’t sacrifice their lives for the cause that has already devoured over a lakh people and shattered innumerable families. There must be better options.
Muddasir Ramzan studied English Literature. He was born in 1990 in Kashmir, India, where he resides. He can be reached at muddasirramzan[at]gmail[dot]com