When I was a teenager, I would follow elderly boys of my locality to an afternoon bath in a spring in our village. Our school usually gave us some good time to enjoy the summer as they followed their own schedule called ‘ The Morning Time’. The elderly boys would play cards and smoke behind the bushes and we used to gather apricots and walnuts in the forest. It had become a routine for us and when I think of it today, I satisfactorily feel delight in knowing the fact that I enjoyed my childhood to the fullest. However, an alien rumor disturbed our routine and nobody was allowed to move out alone. I call it alien as it was absolutely new to us. It was believed that some men belonging to the Jana Sangh brethren used to kill children in Kashmir and remove their vital body organs. I did not know the gender of this Jana Sangh, nor did I know its religion. To me, Jana Sangh was a ghost like something. Later, when I became a serious reader of news, I came to know that Jana Sangh was a political party associated with the RSS. Mind you, RSS is taken as a threat group by the very dear Uncle Sam. I am not concerned about this being a rumor, I only know that I was exposed to fear at a very early age and subsequently a victim of terrorism. Both surprising and frightening, this confusion never saw me again bathing in the same spring with the satisfaction I used to get as a kid.
Similarly, my father would read me stories from my Basic English which would always see a Muslim figure as a victim of terrorism. It always drew sympathy. A Hindu represented a disgusting someone because we were ourselves believed to be an oppressed lot. An Englishman was a figure of contempt and a serious heartless person because our socialization was the result of Indian History books and Bollywood movies. Some of my friends were great fans of Amitabh Bachhan’s movie Mard, by the way. Likewise, a Russian represented Afghan carnage and importantly, a Jew was the killer of innocent Palestinians.
In the childhood memories, I try to convey something that cannot be conveyed. I try to declare unequivocally that I am not a terrorist. I try to tell that I do not feel of myself like you feel of me. I fail to overcome the power of this hype with my story because even Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist, which was translated into over thirty languages and shortlisted for Booker Prize, could not stop Donald Trump and Sarah Palin from declaring an open attack against Muslims.
Terrorism, their terrorism, has its source in Afghanistan, Kashmir, Palestine-all occupied since long. Or to talk of the contemporary conflicts like Syria, Iraq, and other middle-east countries, they have been held hostages by the modern day giants. And Pakistan, facing and managing the Afghan crises, having their interests in Muslim countries would definitely be worried about the conditions of Modern day Muslims. Not to talk of the ISIS.
Now if acts of violence constitute terrorism, I propose to change, with all humility and humbleness, the definition of Self-defence under International Law. I do not mean to legalize the use of gun. If against eighteen persons in Kashmir, as figures suggest, India has kept a gunman, can we claim a demand for Self-defence as civilians because the soldiers enjoy vast immunity from different stages of liability as provided by law. This is not merely because soldiers enjoy immunity but because of the fact that open war has been declared against the Kashmiris through one or the other way. Indian Army in Kashmir guards the land and apparently we do not share the feeling of oneness with them. Even Farooq Abdullah once revealed that his son Omar Abdullah had been stopped by an army major on highway and was about to be shot. I ask the same question as was asked by Dr. Farooq Abdullah, “If this happened with Omar, what do you think an ordinary Kashmiri citizen faces?”
Muslims and Terrorism- the relationship may be old to some but it is a strange something to me as long as my reason is alive. Some people who have made a propaganda out of the term Jihad should know that people have laid down their lives for an ‘idea’ to triumph and history is a witness to the fact that religious clashes are a fact. Islam alone cannot be given this color. However, the post Cold War occurrences have observed shifts in the scenes and terms and conditions favoring modern capitalists have been established. This has changed the whole scenario giving rise to absurd stereotypes.
True that there has been violence in the name of religion, but do we need to set all circumstances aside and harass a populace?
PS: When Paris was attacked in December last year, Kashmiris became a subject of discussion on social networking and were given bad names.
Next time someone calls me a terrorist, I shall call him an ignorant.