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Kashmir - the living dystopia

The ongoing unrest has now entered its third month, plunging Kashmir into an unending dystopia. Even if it eventually ends it will inevitably re-ignite with as much, if not more intensity until there is a permanent solution to this dispute. The dream of a dynamic, valiant and dignified life in ‘Independent-Kashmir’ is superseding the inhabitants of Kashmir. For that dream they have and are enduring immeasurable sacrifice in the pursuit of freedom, not even sparing their own lives. Atrocities coupled with the high handedness of authorities, along with strike-calendars by Hurriyat (separatists) have left the possibility of the return of normalcy unpredictable. Protests and curfews seem endless with the number of those killed and injured increasing daily.

This people’s movement largely depends on calls to shut down, given by the joint resistance leadership (Hurriyat). Residents were hoping there would be some clemency on Eid, but no, there was a call for a march to the office of the United Nations Military Observers' Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) in Sonwar Srinagar, on Eid-ul-Adha too. To foil this march there was a strict curfew in all ten districts of Kashmir. Cellular and broadband-internet services were blocked; and at many places people were not even allowed to offer Eid prayers. It was nothing like Eid. The literal meaning of Eid is happiness but in the land where the dance of death continues there were protests and killings on this holy day too.  

The government is trying to regain control over an angry mob. Home Minister Rajnath Singh visited the Valley many times. Meetings involving central government and other political parties of Jammu and Kashmir are organised in Kashmir and in Delhi, to discuss how to yield normalcy; but the outcome of their meetings prove a fiasco. On 4th of September the All Party Delegation from central government visited Kashmir to conduct talks with every ‘stakeholder’ of Kashmir but the separatist leaders, who are either imprisoned or under house arrest, refused to talk to them. While mainstream leaders and some common Kashmiris showed their dissatisfaction at the separatist leaders’ boycott, deep down they understand their reasons for snubbing the Delegation. Criticising the cruelty of its own ruling government, PDP’s senior party member and a Member of Parliament Tariq Hameed Karra, who was against the PDP-BJP alliance, resigned from his party and from membership of Parliament. This illustrates the complexity of the government of Kashmir. The ruling coalition-parties of PDP and BJP should find a permanent solution to the problems of the region by engaging both India and Pakistan in meaningful dialogue if they really are concerned about the betterment of the people. Unfortunately they think people’s demands and sacrifice are not worth taking into consideration. It is the greed and opportunism that cajoles our leaders to ladder down to the servility of shame.

This is the longest curfew in the recent history of Kashmir, turning the whole Valley into a big prison. Since the 1990s Kashmiris have lived in terror and the current rebellion signifies that people, mostly youngsters, have traversed that fear element. The security forces now and again try to reign through terror by means of night raids, arrests, beating and killings. More battalions of forces are transported to Kashmir. There are daily reports of civilians killed and injured in the ongoing clashes. A large number of the injured, often children and youngsters hit by pellets, face the prospect of losing their eyesight permanently. The total breakdown in communication has further boosted the situation. The embargo on mobile and internet services,except the government-owned company BSNL,continues to flaunt the obstacles in connecting people within Kashmir and to the outside world. The present shutdown has severely damaged every section of Kashmir, particularly its economy and education. Everything – the local and Central Government offices, shopping areas, banks, post offices, schools, colleges and universities – are all shut. The chaos which is governing the present state of Kashmir is the outcome of the power struggles of our leaders and culminates in the despair and anguish of the people who are tormented both physically and mentally.

Despite the concerns and pressure from Pakistan, United Nations, European Union, United States of America, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, China or Turkey, there is no sign of diplomatic contingency to solve this dispute. People have become weary of the idleness now but what concerns and haunts them most is the future of Kashmir. What will happen to Kashmir if it continues to burn like this? With over two months of unceasing protests and curfews people have found different ways of passing the time – there are debates and regrets on the prevailing conditions everywhere. Though there is a division in the ideas of people – most people are supporting the calls given by separatist leaders while some are of the opinion that it is not a constructive way to address our problems – but they are united in the belief in fighting for their basic rights and that Kashmir should be for Kashmiris.

This uprising has also unnerved people of the viciousness present within their own communities. Youngsters and children are blocking local roads on strike calls thus not allowing vehicles to pass through. In the event of an emergency situation where people need to travel, they must face the wrath of both local protesters and security forces. In this ugly quagmire both right and wrong become blurred. Some people are even quizzical about the resistance leaders. But the common Kashmiri goes with the flow in the hope that the flow shall take them to the shores of strides.  If Joseph Conrad were alive today and could observe the present state, his words for Kashmir would have been the dying utterance of Mr Kurtz: “The horror, the horror! .    

Muddasir Ramzan was born in 1990 in Kashmir, India, where he resides. He studied English Literature and is a budding writer. His writings have been published in various national and international journals in India, Pakistan and the UK and he regularly writes blogs for the Muslim Institute. He can be contacted at muddasirramzan[at]gmail[dot]com.