Selective Condemnations

How does one recapitulate or recollect his childhood memories? Beautiful stories, nice picnics, wonderful dreams, extra care and respect, positive emotional development, and so on? Wow, how fanciful!

My childhood memories are a chronological order of horrors and torments. They live in my eyes like a terrible obsession. In my secret world, characterized by these terrible obsessions, my heart is on a constant battle. That is why I write and will continue doing so.

Few days ago, a video of Kashmiri boys attacking CRPF men in Budgam went viral. In no time, ‘prime time’ shows were set to condemn the assault forgetting the eight murders that had just taken place. It took no time for the jingoistic media to turn adverse and vindictive. Gautam Gambhir, India’s national team cricketer actually declared war on the people of Kashmir. He used the word “jihadis” for Kashmiri boys. Although, there was no express context of the term, but it’s implied that he used the term generally. How shameful and terrible can it get for a man who has no business in Kashmir!

When hundred Kashmiris were killed last year, there was no word of empathy from jingoists like Gambhir. Thousands of young men and women were blinded and disabled. We also crossed a century of curfewed days and it was normal. Therefore, Gautam Gambhir must hang his head in shame and apologize for the venom he has spewed.

The question whether beating of the CRPF men is justified or not is a matter of great debate. Of course, human dignity cannot be challenged at any cost whatsoever. But let’s tell the truth about India’s presence in Kashmir. If I start from my own person, I can extensively deliver firsthand accounts of the violence that I have been an eyewitness to.

During an assembly election in our village a long, long time ago, I was used by the army as a human shield, which is a globally acknowledged war crime. My father and my uncle had fled the village overnight to evade the continuous harassment and my elder brother had also escaped to some other place. I was the only male member at home. I was nine or ten. The army took me to the suspicious and sensitive places and I was left free after an hour long search. In her Independence Day speech last year, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti herself acknowledged the use of human shields in Kashmir.

Similarly, my father was used to continuous harassment by Ikhwanis, a brigade supported by the government of the time and the Army as well. How do you react when an illiterate, gun-weilding man forcibly asks your father to take off his new pair of shoes so that your father returns home barefooted? I have seen it in front of my eyes.

The stories are the chronicles of our existence. On the first of February every year, my village commemorates the deaths of its civilians who were killed defenceless in front of the whole village during a crackdown in 1992. I have also heard that an elderly man among them was tortured to death after a log was rolled over his body. The saddest part is that this news never made to the mainstream media of India, or even Jammu and Kashmir. I remember how we all kept waiting like kindergarten children for Radio Pakistan news to learn about these sad developments. This makes me a child of war, and a victim of terrorism.

These are some of the many truths that form a part of our existence. Will India’s mainstream media gather courage to tell the truth about Kashmir to its people? If they acknowledge the crimes done in Kashmir and tell the truth to its people, I don’t see anyone not condemning the assault inflicted on CRPF men. Otherwise, Kashmiris will just treat it as a patient reaction to what’s been done in the past.

P.S: “Ajeet hain, abheet hain” written on a hill overlooking Srinagar may be sacred to the mainland India. It’s not the same to Kashmir!

Published in GK:
http://m.greaterkashmir.com/news/opinion/selective-condemnations/246687.html
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Breaking The Stereotype

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.

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(Find here___ http://kashmirreader.com/if-you-call-me-a-terrorist-i-will-call-you-ignorant/ )

A confession

It was a usual Kashmiri night.We had
finished our meals and a cricketing
contest was going on between two
unknown nations(it was not a Pakistan-
India contest).I was surrounded by my
father and my elder brother.It was 11:30
in the night when my dad got a
call,looked a little strange to everyone of
us.He after ending the call straightaway
phoned a local Police Station.Everyone
was in a wait to know what actually had
happened.
I had finished my Kehwa(a traditional
tea)and went quickly to the left of my
father to know the situation.He left the
room and I got the opportunity to phone
my cousin who also works with my dad in
the Forest department.He talked so
mildly as he was caught in an ambush and
the reality was that he was actually in
an ambush.He had met me earlier that
day and was a little worried over the
missing of some logs in Forest Depot
Ajas,where he was working.I realized the
situation and ended the call.
Now,I was waiting for the tomorrow to
come.He came early in the morning to
meet me and it was all about the
description of the situation.It was he who
had noticed the missing logs and it was
he who had left himself in danger with
one of his companions to catch the
culprits.It was the third day of his
ambush and around 12:30 am,he had seen
a military vehicle and a local van stop
there.The policemen too were frightened
by this and had taken time to reach the
destiny.The Indian army-men were about
to take third log into their truck and
Police had come.They looked like
handicapped and were caught in the
act.Some had tried to escape through
the other way down there but were
failed as my cousin had jumped on them.
Police seized the vehicles,the army men
were identified as that of Shadipora(a
village of Bandipora district)camp and
they had carried some civilians with them
who were also identified as that of
Shadipora.One of the Shadipora guys had
kept himself hidden in the army vehicle
which was handed-over to the Ajas army
camp and was beaten there too so that
reality does not come out of his larynx.
It was now for the media to play their
part.Almost every local daily had the
headline,”The Police has ordered probe
into the matter”and actually we are still
waiting for the Police to come with the
results.Even the FIR was not lodged.My
uncle,who was the then Range Officer of
the Forest Division,Bandipora
straightaway threw his anger at the
Police Officials and I still remember his
words on ETV Urdu,”Police ne laataluki ka
izhaar kiya”(Police showed the signs of
carelessness)and the other day my cousin
told me that the Police had advised him
not to carry forward this matter
otherwise the Indian Army  might do
something dangerous.
I still feel for this and sometimes I laugh
when I see the writings of the Indian
Army
“Abheet hain,
Ajeet hain” on a hill overlooking
Srinagar.

Freedom is the remedy if slavery is a curse

My village in the northern district of
Bandipora rests on the base of a
mountain range.Like other parts of
Kashmir,this too has worst memories of
oppression with the hands of occupational
forces.
The same old dream of Aazadi passed to
us at our birth has left us restless
throughout our lives.I have seen men
being abducted,interrogated,tortured
and women being harassed.I have played
a cricket where fast bowling and
Dilshan-shot were equally banned due to
a fear that the ball might land in the
army camp.I have been a reluctant mid-
wicket fielder due to the fear that the
barrels of the guns do not point exactly
at me.Like that,there is lot more to
tell.But this time,let me tell you a
horrifying story of illegal Indian
occupation.
I remember,it was the first day after
this year’s Id-ul-Fitr.All the boys of our
village were back home and we were tired
with so much of cricket.Everyone wanted
a party in Wular or Manasbal.But
someone’s noble idea took us to a place
called Tangabuthoo which is some four
kilometres away from our village,Ajas.It
is a mountainous area.We were seven in
number-
Umer,Aakib,Eden,Parvez,Irfan,Tajamul
and infact,Me.We had some chips and
cold-drinks with us.
It was a calm day,sun was shining to its
fullest.Random ideas took us to random
places and on our way,We met the grand
Martyr’s graveyard there.Everyone of
us wanted to stay there and pay tributes
to them but ablution was something no
one had done.So our feet took us to a
stream which was some feet away.The
stream was flowing and the children of
the Gujjars playing in it added to its
beauty.Women were washing their
belongings and it looked like the old
Kashmiri culture was still existent
there.Leaving everything apart,we found
a bathing place.
I had already removed my upper garment
and some strange voices were calling us
from the upper side.It was the men of
the Ajas camp of Indian army.They
ordered us to come up to them.We sent
two of our boys.That much did not
satisfy them and we were all assembled in
front of them.We all got spooked and
they started their askings.It went like
this:
They:Where from did you come?
Me:Jamia Mohalla,Ajas.
They:Why have you come here?
Me:We have come to bath here.People are
enjoying Eid everywhere and we came
here for it.
They:Why were you hiding yourself
there,Are you running a conspiracy
against us?
Me:Two of our boys were enough to
acquaint you people about us and
conspiracy?Why should we?
One of them started using abusive
languages and said,”You are befooling us
and tell me how much time did it take you
to reach here?”I answered
hastely,”About an hour and a half”.”Now
look at this mountlet and tell me how
much time will it take you to climb
this?,And open your clothes and
climb”,he cried heavily.I got frowned
internally and everyone must have
got.Me?Mountain?Naked?And Why?
What is my crime?I muttered to
myself.We were too reluctant to his order
and looked back to go down and bath.But
Irfan whispered something like Nagalandi
and we got barred again.Irfan’s life was
already perished in matric when he was
arrested on the charges of stone-pelting
and jailed for months.So,he did not care
much about what came out of his
mouth.A black man came out of them and
pointed his stick at Eden.It looked like he
was going to start the beating.But
something saved us there and we went to
bath again.Some did bath and some did
not.Everyone was terrified.I finished at
numero uno and lighted a cigarette.I had
finished quarter of it and down came
another group of the army.I had to
throw it away to reduce the askings from
their side.
We were coming down now and were lost
in our own conversation.Umer was taking
oath of something he had done in his
past.He said like this,”AllahTalhas Path(I
swear by God)”.Those army men were
listening from some side and asked
him,Hey Londe,”Kya sirf Allah ka naam le
raha hai”(O you,why are you taking only
the name of Allah).Umer,a daring guy
gently said to him,”He is my Lord,I take
his name,Why should you interfere?”They
threw some words again at us but we did
not pay any heed to those.
We entered into the graveyard and I
recited whatever I remembered from the
holy Quran.
What an ample time it was!My eyes were
full of tears and a gentle breeze was
blowing.It really was a great time.I lit
another cigarette and was lost.My face
was filled with anger and I took
long,hard puffs from my cigarette.
Akib was the eldest of us and most caring
too.
“We should leave.We have prepared a
graffiti down there.We should not let
them see those walls.Otherwise,We’ll be
killed”,Akib pleaded.
We had prepared a graffiti.Words like
Gaza,Aazadi,War Till Victory,Palestine
were painted.So,we left through a
shortcut and reached our homes safely
wondering if we will be caught.
“They tell me:If you see a slave
sleeping,do not wake him lest he be
dreaming of freedom.
I tell them:If you see a slave
sleeping,wake him up and explain to him
freedom.”
~Khalil Gibran

A story of despair

Let me tell you a story of my
friend,Nawab.
Nawab was nine years old the first time
he heard the word love.He did not feel
much excited when he heard the word as
for him it was love for parents,love for
teachers and dear-ones.
He was the last child of his parents.A
debonair guy,a cricket freak,a devout
and almost perfect in any stream one
could put before him.
Nawab was best at studies.Aims were
infinite and efforts were endless and it
was sure that he would strike big in his
life which his siblings had not done.He
was the favourite child of his parents as
he would always impress them with
positions and distinctions.
A boy of lusturous face,his thinkings
were above all.For his teachers,he was a
guy of dual character as he was an
intelligent as well as a naughty boy.
The boy who had dreams like dust in his
eyes had a strange fate.The world’s
sweetest tragedy struck him.It was a cool
April morning.He had gone to his paddy-
fields to fill the bellies of their work-
men.On his way,he saw a girl whom he
wanted to see again and again.He looked
at that girl like he had never seen
someone like her and like she was the
most beautiful girl he had ever
seen.Maybe that was love at first sight
and it really was.
It was now for him to pay diurnal visits
to the alleys he never wanted to leave.He
was fifteen then.When it came to
proposing the girl,he never dared to.The
boy who wanted to hold the hands of his
beloved was a shy kid.Lost in the
thoughts,he was sometimes jargoned as
well looking at the barriers he had to
cross.
The boy who did not have friends joined
gangs in order to fight with anyone who
would tease or stare at his girl.His love
was so true and he was too involved now.
Years went on and he continued to rely
on a one-sided love affair.The boy
started doing unexpected.Smoke became
his food.He puffed more and more as his
lungs were very good recepients.
Nawab was enjoying sleepless nights.The
boy of fealty character lost his cool,lost
his calm,lost his shine and almost
everything.
But his gang(friends) never left him
alone.He confessed before the girl
everything he had in his heart.She was
not impressed though she knew he was
sincere.But she was in someways a girl of
strange character.She threw words like
sorry at him and the man who was
afraid of losing her got baffled.
It was like a compunction striking him
and he began to live a life of
hopelessness.But he was lucky in a way
that he got a comeback offer in his life
to which he responded very gaily and
handsomely.He had promised his parents
of getting a place in some great
institute.He got lower than that but was
more than satisfactory for him.Nawab
loved her in a way that he lost himself to
her and her he never won.An affection
which was a pure one,a holy one turned
out to be a futile one.
Deep inside his heart,Nawab still craves
for his beloved and sometimes the
feelings of hopelessness hit him at their
very
worst.
(This character ‘Nawab’ has hit me very
deeply and there is lot more to tell about
Nawab.I know this guy very deeply and
In Shaa Allah I will be writing more and
more on him).

From top to bottom,My Life through your eyes

I had a great interaction with my cousin
from the very beginning of my life.We as
children always loved to spend our time
together.One evening,We were playing
cricket outside our home and we got the
news that changed our lives forever and
affected me the most;an eighteen year
old Pakistani boy had taken six big
English wickets at the Lord’s in just two
or three overs.Pakistan still lost the
game due to some big reasons.
For some reasons,I was not able to watch
that particular game at my home.Then,I
managed to visit my uncle’s home and
was able to watch the remaining part of
the game but it turned out to be a
boring story from thereon.
Leaving that apart,I had got my hero.I
became the fan and Mohammad Aamir
my hero.
Tall and smart,Aamir was a sensation
from day one.Boys wanted to be like him
and girls wanted to be with him.When he
was bowling,no one switched the
channels.With him at the bowling
end,anything was possible.
I used to extract his videos from internet
and try exactly the way he bowled.But
the problem was that I was a right arm
bowler.Still I managed to copy his action
and was able to throw the ball quite
easily.
And the impact was that my study time
got changed.It got reduced and my
academic books got replaced by cricket
diaries.There was hardly any notebook
which did not contain the names of
cricketers,cricket records,rankings and
many more.Mohammad Aamir always had
a higher position in the list.
Coming back from the school,I used to
give most of my time to cricket.I would
hardly miss any delivery of Aamir’s spell.
Coming from a remote village,he had
changed a lot in his life and was more
often compared to the legend Wasim
Akram.He was able to produce quality
shots with the willow as well and used to
entertain the crowd with his towering
sixes.
But all he did was deeply
disappointing.Alongwith the stylish
Salman Butt and another bowling great
Mohammad Aasif,he got involved in spot-
fixing.
I still remember that day and was
restless for me.Looked to me like I had
committed the mistake and was feeling
the pain.They brought shame to the game
and the people they represented.
But life is something where we witness
lots and lots of events.One has to say
goodbye to some and infact welcome to
the other.Deep inside my heart,I still
crave for him and sometimes I feel that
cricket without Aamer never remained
the same.
(The earlier title was’The star and his
long-awaiting fan’ and the current one
was suggested by a Pakistani brother on
Twitter)