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Kashmir’s black & white moment

Islamabad

July 21, 2016

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It’s a subtle scheme of persecution that becomes manifest on certain occasions

This young boy once again shed light on the real, and the only, fault-line: a people against an armed robbery of their land, a spirit of freedom against an occupying state. Kashmiri Muslim against an oppressive power, called India. True to his name, Burhan made it evident. If he is a terrorist, then those tens of thousands who attended his funeral are also terrorists. If he is a terrorist then the entire population of Kashmir that refuses to calm down ever since can only be called a terrorist population. Actually this post 9/11 label – terrorist – is used by India very conveniently as a tool of obfuscation. Unfortunately the world is in no mood to review this post 9/11 discourse, and India is taking total advantage of this.

An empirical description of this boy needs retelling a million times over to counter the evil propaganda unleashed by the Indian state, and its wicked media. Burhan embroiled into a first hand experience of Indian armed lordship over Kashmir when he was just 15. While others sustain such experiences differently; stuffing it into the crevices of one's psychological being and then expressing it as a stressed personality, or at times as an angry protestor. But this 15 year fresh life proved short on the capacity to hold that humiliation. His was a pure, and intuitive,  human response. He decided to speak in the language of arms to a power that has silenced us down by an unimaginably high decibel language of arms. No one knew that one day this tiny whisper of Burhan's rebellion would synchronise with the silence of millions, hence the Kashmir of today. More than 40 dead, More than 2000 injured. And no signs of calm returning before long.

While people are mourning the death of the dozens that fell to Indian arms,  Indian state is employing its standardised colonial responses. There are discussions on how the aftermath should have been handled. How less people should have died, not because they care for a Kashmiri life, but because it unravels the whole scheme of obfuscation. It unmasks the the cruel face of armed robbery. There are discussions on how people could have been stopped from reaching Tral, home town of Burhan; because it throws light on how people are related to these young boys, who are branded as terrorists. There are discussions on what could be the alternative to pellet guns when it comes to controlling the protests. Not because there is a concern for the injured, but because it brings the global focus back on a spot where India is caught committing an armed robbery for almost 7 decades.

The people of India who have retained sanity in the face of this mad nationalism, now drenched in religious, must listen to these innocent, yet potent, sounds. The people of Pakistan, must stand up and speak in a language that is human, and universal. Rather than presenting it as a dispute with India,  talk about it as a human tragedy. Kashmir is far bigger a story than an Indo-Pak dispute. It is beyond and before the UN resolutions. Pakistan needs to refresh its detail on Kashmir. While Kashmir sends out messages for help around the world, including India, invoking saner elements to end this armed robbery, we have extra reasons to turn to the Muslim world. We are being killed because we are Kashmiris – Kashmiri Muslims. The entire Muslim world is under an obligation to intently listen to the sounds from Kashmir, and Pakistan is first in that line of obligation. If our children respond by way of laying down their lives, we wish that those of our brethren in free countries, make it possible that we have less lethal ways of responding. We don't need violent reciprocation from Pakistan, and other Muslim countries. We need non-violent constructive responses. We need Pakistan, and other Muslim countries, to explore grounds for political engagement with India. We need them help us break this state of siege. The stock responses from the state of Pakistan are absolutely unhelpful. The violent responses are counter productive, if not straight away destructive. So Pakistan has to search for fresh responses, as a state and as a people.

What we need this time is a renewed political narrative on Kashmir, and an articulation of that narrative in a universally understandable language. It must be away from Indo-Pak hostility, and far away from 'jihadist' narrative. If Burhan took up arms, explain to the world that it was a political act. Bring it down to a discussion that is political, and disallow Kashmir from getting suffused into things like ISIS or al-Qaeda. Burhan was not a terrorist. Those millions that mourn his death are not terrorists. If their is an apparently violent reaction from Kashmir's ordinary, it's because the only way to defend the sane in Kashmir is to turn mad. There is a profound political language waiting to speak out on what comes across as violent in Kashmir's ordinary people. If there is violence Kashmir, it primarily comes from the Indian state. The world fails to see it because there is a deep  structure of obfuscation in place.

Burhan's death is one such moment when this obfuscation can be exposed. Here is a child, just 6,  making it very easy to understand how it all impacts a Kashmiri mind. When I was preparing to visit a near by hospital, with others in the locality, my little daughter intercepted: “ Baba, where ?” When I said, “hospital”, she sought an explanation, “But, Why”. “There are many injured, and we are going to see if they need our help; you know helping others is good”, I wanted to sound just plain. But her response shook me to the core. “Modi is an oppressor - Zaalim. The day his own countrymen die, he will get to understand what it all means.” I left hurriedly, as if I didn't hear anything. Because I could sense that this is the story of Burahn that my 6 year child was telling me her own way. Can it get more black and white than this. Can it get more cruel than this. And do we have to wait the day when the label -terrorist – is pasted on the foreheads of our infants. 

(Mehmood ur Rashid is Opinion Editor, Greater Kashmir, a Srinagar based English daily. Mail: [email protected])

 

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