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:

Glorifying the Adverse

Simplifying the ‘Collaborators’ debate.
When I was a kid, a group of boys amongst a great lot was selected to present morning prayer in our school. The boys were always reluctant to stand up and recite the prayers but with the eyes of teachers focused on them, they would do it. They would pretend to be cool and energetic, overcome every hint of laziness they carried. Their faces showed it all. To save everyone from the wrath of teachers, they sacrificed their shy and lazy nature. 

“Writing is prayer,” wrote Franz Kafka. The most pejorative element of writing is the haste any thinker puts into operation. Emotions, thoughts, conceit, anger, prejudice- put together may advance the nastiest blow to the field of literature. In literature, we humanize things. We do not judge, we put forward perspectives. A real writer while drawing ink on paper forgets his religion, ego, and even gender. The quest is not for the enforcement and glorification of the writer’s own beliefs but for the resolve of the greater cause of humanity.

After the selection of Kashmiris in the Indian Administrative Service, a hot debate is on table in Kashmir. It is easy to tag anyone a collaborator and unemployed youth in the valley can be seen defining ways for new boys to follow in order to pursue their careers. In the discussions around social media and newspapers in Kashmir, most people are belligerent. The saner voices lose their sanity in the hullabaloo of distracted narcissism.

Personal choice is an utmost fraction of the concept of freedom. We choose our food, we choose our rulers, we choose our dress, and we choose our most cherished goals. But how to choose our profession and what to choose as our profession: Should that be a matter of question? Kashmir is the unkind place on earth. Through the chaos of occupation, state structure, societal structure, a loosely defined morality, there is not as much of opportunity for the youth. The debate, however, is whether choosing administration as profession in Kashmir is an act of collaboration. The ordinary argument is that the IAS/KAS officers are the builders of occupational structures of India in Kashmir. By that count, almost all the population in Kashmir is ‘collaborator’. A teacher working in a government school, a professor working in a university (state or central), an ordinary government officer, and a person working in media, etc; how do we define their status? Do they also qualify to be traitors? Plus, the MLA working in the assembly whom we choose as our ruler, how do we rate him in the scale of traitors? Have we ever bothered to question the integrity of ‘our leaders’ who sell us fake promises while in power and keep us in the paranoia of Kashmiri Nationalism while in opposition. We never question the ‘embodiment of lies’ they have made out of the power structure in Kashmir. Introspect you must. The boys qualifying for different opportunities are not traitors. Traitors are those who sell us fake promises and yet we vote them to power. Therefore, this is to the saner minds: Cracking IAS/KAS is not an act of collaboration. It is simply about choosing a profession.

While the debate was on, Shah Faesal, a Kashmiri medico turned administrator wrote an article ‘Till Azadi Comes’ carried by The Indian Express some days ago. Seemingly, the article was a result of the ‘pejorative element of writing’ I have discussed above in this piece. He writes, “Resistance is not politics. It is not war. It is not about writing poetry…It is about living with grace and dignity, preserving heritage, eliminating corruption, about reporting truth…” But I tell him: Resistance is politics. It is war. It is about writing poetry. It is that chant, the memory that will never fade away- Asi yaar deti na, lakchaar deti na, dildaar deti na, teli kyazi yeni-Azadi. Yes, resistance is about writing poetry. If resistance is about living with grace and dignity, have not we lost that dignity a long ago? Has not our dignity been put to challenge time and again? If resistance is about preserving culture, are not we the worst victims of cultural aggression caught between the ghosts of ‘Indianisation’ and ‘Pakistanisation’? Remind you, corruption has been put into our blood and it may take decades to recover and the organization will never work in Kashmir. They are occupied minds all set to take chances, “caught between the horrors of armed conflict and the unpleasantness of elitism”. The truth has been distorted by the same state structure, time and again; the recent case being that of the Handwara girl. Lastly, it is a matter of great curiosity how the author defends his statement, “Qualifying for the civil services is also an act of resistance.” It will be immature to interpret this statement, but as a matter of sense, he may be talking of the resistance an officer may take on while fighting corruption and nepotism. But is not honesty a basic principle of life, which every person, employed or not, should follow. Why do we need to glorify civil services this way?

P.S: Narratives may differ but reality can never be suppressed. We do not need to alter the Kashmir narrative while defending our position. A person chooses his profession simply as an act of choice.


M J Akbar’s Fallacy

Kashmir Conflict is a fact and is recognized by all the stakeholders or parties to the dispute. M J Akbar, a veteran journalist and politician, in his recent lecture said that Kashmir was not a conflict of geography but of ideology. The learned man seems to be wrong through his observations because Kashmir is essentially a territorial conflict. Had this been an ideological matter, different parties would not have been part to it. Plus, this is not a specific kind of issue alone as I may as a commoner claim that Kashmir issue is an issue of ‘dignity’ or ‘identity’ for me. Narratives may differ but reality can never be suppressed. If we take Kashmir as an ideological conflict, it has no rival outside of Kashmir (ideologically) but internally, one may call it an ideological conflict. By this, I mean that Kashmiris’ claim for right to self-determination is a specific claim, or ideology, as some may call it but internally, there are different stances put forward by different groups.
Durbar-e-Akbar does not hold good either when he says that giving up Kashmir is surrendering Muslims’ rights. Succession of states as a principle of international law is subservient to the will of the people, or what is commonly known as the right to self-determination and Kashmiris have not realized the right yet. The centuries gone past were those of imperialism and warfare. Major imperialists had no rivals and therefore it was their policies that dominated mostly. Sovereignties also changed and changes in the territories demonstrated a new map of the subcontinent and the world as a whole. What I am trying to say is that the partition matter has got nothing to do with Kashmir and the question of Indian Muslims is distinct from that of Kashmiris. It is due to their will that Indian Muslims form an absolute part of India and the fact is quite undeniable.
Linking ‘Muslim’ to Kashmir does not help because Kashmir issue is not the issue of religion either. This is an issue of basic rights which every human being observes because of his being a human.
In a bid to restore peace in the territory, we resorted to so much of warfare and achieved nothing and not to deny the insaniyat ke naam hype, we served so much of inhumanity for making things humane. From time to time, Kashmiris have displayed the fact that this is not a war of religion but of enforcing basic human rights. The cry still resonates and we pledge to seek resolve to the issue and maintain peace and prosperity in the region.

An Open Letter to J&K CM, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed

I am writing this to you with a frustration of emotions, hopes and disappointments that have been haunting my mind since long.
I am not going to discuss political scenario, military siege, dialogues and political philosophies. I am not also going to debate about the plans of Pandit return and rehabilitation of the flood victims.
The story I am going to tell you is my own; the pain is my very own.
I am a student pursuing bachelors in law from School of Legal Studies, Central University of Kashmir. The amazing thing to feel about me is the movements I make across Srinagar from semester to semester. I have grown to be a migratory bird which has no permanent home. This time, we are ‘hanging around’ a place called Nowgam whose size is coequal to any one department you can find inside the university of Kashmir or elsewhere.
My conditions stand very well in opposition to those experienced normally by a student. When I begin to think about the student life I had dreamt of, I somehow restrict myself and my plans about the future.
Let me not bore you. A few days earlier, when I went outside the university premises to have a cup of tea(we don’t have a canteen even), an elderly man stopped me from behind and began to ask about the courses being offered there. I gave him a brief about the same and he said in response,“Wah yaar! Chota packet, bada dhamaka”. Surprised by his response, I felt a curious taste of cheer and guilt- cheer that I had got a joke to share with my friends and guilt that I had landed myself and my career in a sensitive place.
Let me also give you a scenic view of the hostel we are living in. It is a place without electricity since the time we joined in. A huge power generator lights the hostel for a few hours followed by an early goodnight. When the same is defunct, we along with our warden sir keep waving our hands to vehicles that pass by the road and request for their help to get our generator started. The leasor of the hostel is not guilty too. He’s set up a transformer some long time ago. In short, the response we receive to our queries is,”We have not got permission from ‘bijli’ department yet.”
This time however, I do not feel any cheer or guilt but an anger that asks me to revolt against the ‘system’ I am living under. Alone and alone, I cannot do it.
Now many things said, let me not suggest you plans and designs for the development of the institution as you better guide and architect the plans. Please introspect.
Thank you.
‘May God bless us all!’

Letter to ‘Ghalib’ – Son Of Mohammad Afzal Guru

Dear Ghalib,
Hope my letter finds you ‘victorious’ as your name translates to. It really is hard for me to write to you but I will try at least, to draw my emotions and love on paper.
Some years ago, on this day, your father was judicially murdered by a country well-known as the world’s largest democracy. The facts of his case were disproved to in vain arguments of ‘collective conscience’ and ‘national interest’.
As you know as well, how your mother and you were denied the last meeting with your father, how the execution letter sent by the government of India reached you two days after the execution and how the corpse of the martyr was denied by the government of India.
Anyway, I am not writing this to remind you of the cruel show of the Indian state but to tell you a few tales.
As a student, I have learnt to be inventive. I try to create something out of the books, the real life experiences, in the middle of the night, during the blaze of the day. Likewise, I tried to write on the case of your father viz, the case origin, facts, judicial developments following the case, etc. but I must tell you that I always draw blank because I begin to think of you. It is not that I succumb to fears and pressures but to emotions and annoyance. By and by, I struggle to write.
Once I discussed the case with a friend of mine who lives in London. Due to his charisma, I thought I would yield better results and suggestions as he shared the thoughts on social networking sites. But it was all in vain. Perhaps it is the strange nature of the case or maybe they too think of you.
You may on this day be remembered of the brutish complexion of the killers of your father and it may lead you to a state of despondency, as human nature is. But remember that hope sustains you and me, the universe.
Back in my university, one of my professors approached me once to prepare an analysis on cases following Afzal’s hanging. In one of the cases it was held,”Unexplained delay is a ground for commuting death penalty to life sentence.” In another case, it was held that there will be no Afzal Guru like execution(concerning the gap between the communication of rejection and actual execution of the death sentence.) I chose not to write. Was my writing going to bring back your father? No!
In these hard and sensitive times, it is impossible to see what lies ahead for us. One seems locked and the question that nags one’s mind is,”Where should I go?” And the answer to this question should be given by your bravery to move ahead in life.
My grandfather told me once,”Do you know why most of the brilliant people fail to deliver(through their lives)?” He always talked to the point during his conversations and I being a kid those days straightaway answered,”No.”. And he said in response,”They stick to the tough times of despair in lives and ultimately fall to life’s challenges.”
You are young and energetic. Build “Ghalib” as life approaches. There are a lot of promises in you. Do not forget that you are not alone.
Be happy.
Much love,
Aarif M. Rather
( Published here- )
( Plus – )

An open letter to Mr.Junaid Azim Mattu

Dear Sir,
It was during the summers this year when a youth from Soura area was murdered in a slash-and-burn estate by the CRPF troopers in the valley.The following day I went through the Greater Kashmir where I spotted a staggering piece by you.It was a hair-raising note concerning the killing of the innocent soul.The piece revealed several things in itself.It looked like you had written the piece with the core of your heart speaking to you.You seemed to be the remedy of the crumbled Kashmiri society.
I knew you prior to this when you used to fence the sentiments of the Kashmiri populace on The Great Comedy Circus of India (Times Now).Your affiliation with People’s Conference was very copacetic as the party did not possess much crumbling history unlike the giant political parties of Kashmir.Your contents of HOPE and CHANGE  were well understood and very well respected.
At a certain point,you left the People’s Conference and it looked like CHANGE  was going to doll up.You became a political analyst and won the conscience of numerous sentient buds.I was one of them.Yes,I was a comrade of yours!
Now,Yeats comes to my rescue-
All changed:changed utterly.
You joined a political lot which has always played with the emotions of a common Kashmiri and has shown heartlessness and helplessness at every juncture.
It is true that right things come the right way but your political fight within the Indian jurisdiction was very supportable.It had multifold routes distinct of the traitor’s path.
Your promise of CHANGE  also came to a closure:
Mr.Omar Abdullah’s vision abruptly became unparallel,historic.
And your tearing into the Abdullahs and the National Conference?What happened to that?
However,interference into one’s personal opinions is against the etiquittes.But remember,revolutionaries will never stop approaching.Getting sent to jail is not something out of the ordinary,rather it is a part of their lives.
Have a good journey!
Thank you.

An open letter to J&K CM Mr.Omar Abdullah

Dear Sir,
I have a vague memory.It was in the noughties of this century-probably the year 2008.One of my aunts-an astronomically political lady was so pleased:A young man in the shape of Omar Abdullah had taken the Chief Minister’s seat in our state of Jammu and Kashmir.
For me,it was a cracker-jack time.Politics was in no way related tome as cricket was my life.But your good name-I had to remember to impress my teachers with my General Knowledge.Everyday was a lovely day as I would spot your picture on almost every local daily.You were the leader of a new baseline.As time supervened,morales began to be shattered de novo.Masses
wanted justice which was head and
shoulders away.Pro-freedom leaders got a veracious time to surge in.I expected a quick time justice from your side but
every hope was smashed.The whole of my peace was disturbed and I began taking abysmal interest in politics and the history of Kashmir.My academic performance got down in the year 2010.
Your pretty name was no more in my memory.Pro-freedom leaders took over the charge of polls.Everything seemed to be changed:very utterly.Lives of common people became valueless.People used to sit
on the storefronts discussing the
old,painful stories of oppression.Let mealso confess that they always blamed your grandfather for whole of the mess.Again,a wonderful factor called time followed.Common people after losing their loved ones and lone bread-earners realized the fact that strikes did nothing except vandalizing their already
stricken lives.How many brilliant,promising boys we lost!
I was resistible of everything but injustice.I also perceived the brutality of the incredible Indian state done to me in the form of Mohammad Afzal Guru.Your helplessness was quite apparent.
Had morales not been shattered,I would not have dared to write this much to you.Had you run the government handsomely,maybe I would have been singing praises of you.
And I am forgetful of everything but my dream.My parents had always seen an engineer in me.I had promised them of becoming a good,decent citizen to whom politics was a so called ‘dirty game’.But,my noble thoughts have been crushed as I am too involved now.My nice,cool ideology got refashioned gazing
at the tactics and government you have been running.I became a colossaly political man and ‘CHANGE’ became my
motive.Finally,I request your goodself to look into the matters of common people very closely and very fearlessly.You ought to do justice and keep up the morales of the common people like me.
Oh no ! Your tenure seems to be over.
Bon voyage anyway!
Yours obediently,
Aam Aadmi.