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.



Kashmir – My Symphony 

Aarif Muzafar Rather

She ached over the summer, her voice lingering with desperation, asking me in a languid note,” When are we going to defeat ‘The Stone Age’?”

I became her militant poet, alchemizing my words into verses, imitating my favourite poets. My voice sprung with hope, retorting back in a militant voice:
When the times are black and the people tire

When the days are morbid and the people tire

When the chains get heavy and the people tire

When the power structure gets over one’s head and the people tire

When the storm is over the head and the people tire

When the people are tired, they rise

When they rise, they croon the songs of freedom

When they rise, the celebration of freedom is nigh

Just another summer, in this inhuman world- as we made our way to the busy autumn- we drew the certain:

The graveyards filled with the nameless, young men and children, those eyes of stones blinding the young men of their vision, the passion of our mothers reverberating the streets with the calls for freedom and what not.
“What else did it take people to bring about revolution?” she asked in a tone of overwhelming contradictions.

It felt to me like I was short of words, having no real face to face the reality before me. I wanted to gather my response, put into words my real state of facts and let her know that I had no hope of making her understand. I responded tenderly, “It takes character to bring about revolution.”

“What if they break our character too, like they broke our will?”

“Beloved Kashmir, character is not broken. It’s not to be crucified. The character is our identity. No matter what they do, they can’t break our identity. It will not be broken by blinding our youth. No matter how heavy the chains are and how long the walls of prisons are, we will write our identity with the blood of our hearts. In the prevalence of enormity, your character radiates. It burns with an undying passion.”

“But why did Shabir, the lecturer, have to die?”

“They were dearest to God and died defenceless. When desperation burns, look up into the sky, the stars there are our defenceless youth. They shine there with the brightest of hopes for us.”

“Was Yasmeen, the young girl, dearest to God too?”

“Indeed, our young women will show us light to the truth. They are the dearest children of God and are conspiring to find a better future for our homeland. They are the pictures of our resilience and epitomes of a truth that the world is blind to see.”

“But I keep thinking of a little boy with blinded eyes who has so much potential to be an Olympic shooter. Tell me, for God’s sake, is he the child of a different god. So many like him, I see every day, dying thousand times a day, were they children of a different god? Why did not God love them and take them to his own kingdom?”

I stayed silent, gentle at my own place, searching for words in the sky. The sky deepened leaving me sighing with a lonely sort of feeling. Again and again I begged for answers but there was none.

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Sombre Memories, Melancholic Thoughts

Aarif Muzafar Rather
The idea hit the absent tracts of my mind while I walked along the riverside: 
Public parks are like chronicles of things from which people derive their ancestry. They are a cradle to our melancholic existence.
The more I walked along the Jhelum bund, the more absorbed I felt in the times past. We were alone then. Two young people in love.

I imagined myself as a kindergarten child counting seconds of her recovery over her agony from reading a passage from The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk. We followed the articulation of the passages like two young travellers following a boulevard in the night that leads them nowhere. Kemal, the narrator, who is in love with Fusun, a beautiful shop girl, and is going to be married to the aristocratic Sibel, is in conversation with his father when his father narrates to him the story of his unrequited love. Just when we were about to reach the end of the passage, we both sighed, muttering on a hurtful note,“How terrifying life can be, how empty it all is!” until we found the same expression written at the end of the passage. We felt both surprised and hurtful until she muttered in a beautifully low voice that touched the corridors of my heart, “The language of love and sorrow, my dear, is the same to all the humankind.”

On our days in general, we would cross the footbridge near the historic SP Museum, enter our world of melancholy and feel overjoyed while walking under the shades of beautiful Chinars. It’s peculiarly beautiful how the two places look entirely different, separated only by a bridge. If one looks at the two places keenly, the one on the side of the museum is open or common, unbearable in summers and winters both, busied by a nonstop traffic and sorrowfully made ugly by the perils of unpleasant occupation.

The other side of the world is indescribable in the language of a poet. There is peace, wonder, love, enthusiasm, and above all melancholy. The shades of the Chinars make way to Peerzoo, the place Agha Shahid Ali had walked in his youth. I thought at times how he would have walked the road, lost in his own aura, smoking some different kind of a cigarette brand while sitting on a secret bund. Perhaps he had written his lament on Rizwan on the same bund; who knows! But it is certain that his fragrance still holds the place in a promise of hope.

On any dull day in my life, I would lay my hand on Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. While living in my dormitory I would enquire from literary zealots if they had read the book but every time I did the same it turned out to be a wasteful exercise. I so much wanted someone to discuss with me Toru Watanabe’s love for Naoko, the two characters in the novel. In this wasteful exercise, I would imagine myself as Toru and envy him so much that I took pleasure in naming places in Srinagar after those in the novel.

Certain places are unique without knowing why. I would call my woman during any time in the day, take her around the bund road and sit near the Lala Sheikh restaurant till she covered her face and made herself into a boy and enter the small café to drag hard on cigarettes between sips of tea. This always applied to any journey of Naoko and Toru. A few footsteps away, one could get the best coffee in the world and sip the same on ridges made above the bund while songs of Jim Morrison and Bob Dylan kept playing inside small cafes. This always made us feel like sitting on some peak on a large Japanese building as two young people. Alone. Far away from the world.

Every story has an end, but dear reader, my story has no end. This is no memoir, but a fiction. OK. We parted. But this won’t do. Let me finish it my way:

I visit the Jhelum bund sporadically, I visit the Jhelum park too. I sit across the bridge near RajBagh. The bridge too is a river now. Days are dull facts. Night is a countdown timer. Sky above is a blanket of black clouds. My life is taking path of all the beautiful novels. But I see the fragrance of hope while walking along the bund. I see Agha Shahid Ali talking to me, repeating the Persian phrase, “This too shall pass.” I imagine him repeating in his own aura, “This too shall pass.”

Link here:

Waiting- A Fable

By : Aarif Muzafar Rather

I waited there- staring at the moon. It looked brimming blue making the dullest of things in its way bright and lively. It made slow movements that I could never read. I stared. I waited.
I counted stars over my head, making myself believe what was happening by the other side of the park would soon be over. I counted. I waited.
And then she stood up defeating the crowd in her way. Through the clouded labyrinth I spotted the woman with long hair. I gazed at her red leather coat, fascinated at the squares stitched on it. She spotted me at times, throwing her gaze here and there. She cupped her face into her soft hands, making her hair fall down in distress. I could feel her convincing someone. I watched. I waited.
I turned to the riverside, evading the sight of people who were unknown to me. The street beside looked deserted and the walls of the shops were lit by cars passing by intermittently. I fixed my sight on the mundane surroundings as if listening to a fairy tale. I waited.
I was sure enough to persuade myself that I wanted her. The silence around my eyes only grew heavier in the thought of winning her against all the odds. There she was. The girl wearing the red leather coat. I watched her from a distance.
Jhelum Park? Why did she choose evening time to meet people? And why this place? I could not focus on things and my heart grew heavier in the thought of having a conversation with her.
Meanwhile, a car passed by the road playing a Jim Morrison song:

“On our moonlight drive, baby

Moonlight drive.”

The music went on playing:

“Come on, baby, gonna take a little ride

Down, down by the ocean side

Gonna get real close

Get real tight

Baby gonna drown tonight

Goin’ down, down, down.”

A departing metaphor-

“We all wait for people, wanting to make them understand us or make ourselves understand them, love us, cure us of all the ills. But alas…!,” I thought to myself.
I thought again, letting my desperation tumble:
That girl wearing the red leather coat. I want to dissolve myself into the pores of her skin, burn myself in the desire of my passion for her. Bath myself with the sweat of her body. Die in my love for her. Love her down. Deep down. Down to her bones. To the soul. Ashes to ashes.
I wandered. I wondered. I waited.
I could see her walk away behind the large tree situated right to the mosque. I lit a cigarette, dragging hard on it, counting every puff like a child counting stones in her kindergarten to remember numbers. I counted again. I waited.
From a distance, I could see the crowd diminish. She looked at me and I stood there, waiting, wanting to hear from her.
To my fantasy, she was a lifelong companion, a person who had been with me for ages. But alas…!
Now when she was finished with the people, I stood on my chair, wanting to hear from her. I gazed again, at the squares stitched on her red leather coat. She came closer and I got up breaking my silence. I muttered in a soft voice:
“Can I wait for you tomorrow again? Here at this place.”

She smiled, curled her hair with both the hands and walked away. I stood there waiting.

©Aarif Muzafar Rather

Pic and publishing link: Jajeer Talkies website.

Cover pic, Foot Bridge, Srinagar : ©Aarif Muzafar Rather

The Living Kashmir

The Living Kashmir

Aarif Muzafar Rather

A Memory
I was born in a state of cold war in Kashmir: the late nineties. It followed the infamous early nineties, the most turbulent period in the history of Kashmir. When I was a two-year-old baby, as my mother tells me, I became exposed to a curious case of depression. I did not cry, like normal babies do. I hardly made facial movements and was labeled a sensitive, unsocial, depressed boy at such an early age. I was looked after by a doctor in Jammu later and-as my mother tells me-a certain woman, who was related to us by my maternal grandfather’s side, used to accompany us to Jammu. She was the mother of Masarat Alam Bhat, an epitome of struggle for freedom in Kashmir, and a living presence of the state of youth in the conflict-ridden valley. In the Kot Bhalwal jail, where he was kept under detention, we used to look through a hole made across the wall of the prison and catch his glimpse. We used to stay silent while looking at each other, because we understood our grief through this silence. We heard the silence. We adorned it as the limit of our thoughts. The silence that shattered us. We just felt it. Pain it was. A lot of pain.
Almost two decades have passed since and Masarat today is under detention in the same Kot Bhalwal jail in Jammu. The legal fraternity in Kashmir has always challenged his “illegal detention” and the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir has called for the quashing of his detention order several times in the past. But every time the High Court does so, he is slapped with a Public Safety Act by the government which prevents his release.

Lost Life and Lost Dreams
As a witness to the cold war, I saw Ikhwanis (pro-government militia) threaten my father every day, take money, and demand whatever they wished for. I heard about the Kargil War being fought somewhere around the hills of Kargil but hardly saw any Kashmiri take concern about it. It was normal: The war was not ours!
Amid all this chaos, I grew up enthusiastic about cricket. I watched my uncle play cricket all day long. He would hammer bowlers and tell me later that he drew inspiration from Saeed Anwar, a Pakistani cricketer, who would destroy the Indian bowling line-up almost every time there was an India-Pakistan contest. In the evening discussions, at the shop fronts in our village, I would hear everyday people saying, “What a great cricketer Zafar Mir (name changed) is!” This took away all my attention and I began to see myself as a cricketer. I wanted to play like a passionate young man whose first love would always be cricket. This all changed when my uncle took me to a Sufi singers’ gathering in Srinagar. On our return, he told me things that find relevance in today’s Kashmir as well. He told me,”My son, there is no future for cricket in Kashmir. Don’t waste yourself.” The words did not carry strength then and it was just a simple ruling that made me morose for the years that followed.

King can do no wrong
Last month in North Kashmir’s Handwara, a schoolgirl was allegedly molested by soldiers of 21 Rashtriya Rifles. People came out of their houses, protesting the alleged molestation and in retaliation, five people were killed in the collective action of Police and Army, including a promising cricketer.
Overnight the girl’s statement was recorded and spread over social networking sites by some anonymous source. In her statement, the girl denied any hint of molestation. After that, the girl remained in police custody and was hardly allowed to meet lawyers and other independent boards. The Jammu and Kashmir High Court later directed the police to report as to what authority the girl was kept under “illegal detention”. While her police custody continued, her mother revealed that the statement of the girl was recorded under coercion. Almost a month has passed since and the girl and her father are still under detention. The minor girl is caught between the ghost of state machinery and the muddle of societal structure. In the middle of all these restrictions on her body and state of mind, she vows to fight for justice.
For Kashmiris, the Handwara incident is now a memory. They won’t ask you to provide justice to the families of people killed in the incident because in the extended timeline of killings, rapes, tortures, loots, and every damn thing through all these years, justice has never been delivered. ‘Justice’ is just an overused word for them and it exists nowhere. As the old saying goes,” King can do no wrong.”

A Cricketer Killed
Nayeem Bhat was on his way to home after giving camera to his brother. He was shot in the abdomen by the police. Nayeem’s life was cricket and he had wished to play competitive cricket throughout his life. He was a close friend of Parvez Rasool, the only Kashmiri cricketer who plays in the Indian Premiere League. His story became parallel to the stories of thousands of Kashmiris. He was killed like them; made into them: A personification of unaccomplished dreams.

Is Nayeem the only one!?
While Kashmir was mourning the death of Nayeem Bhat, Indian politicians and media turned soft on this. They reported Nayeem’s death without bias, which has otherwise been their practice. But it was not enough for a Kashmiri because there are hundreds of such heroes we have lost in the similar circumstances and where media has protected the arbitrary government actions. Mudasir Ahmad Kachroo, a young footballer, was killed in the 2010 uprising when he was hit in the chest by a teargas canister hit by police in Sopore. Mudasir had represented the valley in different football teams. The story for which I decided to write this article and forms its essential part is untold yet. It is the story of Sajad Ahmad Shah, a young cricketer from Maisuma in the Srinagar City who was killed in the uprising against the Indian rule on 4th of April, 1989.

Sajad Ahmad Shah- A story of Unaccomplished Dreams
Reportage is not easy in Kashmir. One gets to face difficulties of every possible nature. And if you are not a journalist like me, then it is way too tough because people won’t believe you. They take Kashmir to be an industry; a money making industry. Being the unseen targets of violence, their understanding is blameless: “One man’s loss is another man’s profit.”
As I headed towards Sajad’s home, I was received by a woman on the front door. There were no men in their house and she gave me address to the shop of Shabir Ahmad Shah (Sajad’s brother). Shabir is a retired bank employee and runs a shop in Maisuma. I was delighted by his virtuous nature. It all went like a one-way conversation and he answered all the questions I could possibly have asked.
“It was Tuesday. 4th of April, 1989. We closed our shop around 11:30 am because of some disturbance in the city. I asked Muna (Sajad’s nickname) to deposit money in a bank near Jahangir Hotel. He came back home and had lunch. Our mother herself made him eat some morsels of rice in the end so that she was satisfied by his having eaten his meals.”
Of course, there can be no greater satisfaction for a mother than to feed her child with her own hands.
“We asked him earlier to not move out as there were apprehensions of larger disturbances in the valley. I was employed at Batamaloo branch of Jammu and Kashmir Bank those days. Around 1:15 pm in the day, Muna was not present at home. My mother asked me to look for him but I could not find him anywhere. I went to KMD bus yard by foot and heard three bullets fired near Budshah Chowk in the city centre. I became frightened and looked through an alley. I could see a silent brigade of soldiers roving across the street. There was a noise on the other side of the road and I found one of my neighbors there. He was perhaps known to the fact that Muna had been hit and asked me to follow him. When I entered the crowd and saw the body, it was gloom. I was no more in my senses and we headed towards SMHS hospital. They denied us any entry and we learnt later that Muna had already been dead. His body was taken by police. I went to Police Control Room, Batamaloo but they did not handover his corpse to us. Later, Watali, who represented the PCR Batamaloo, asked me to wait till the crowd was dispersed.”
As I listened to him patiently, I could see numbness in his eyes. They turned heavy by the thought of a painful, three-decade-old memory. Sajad was just a memory now.
“Sajad was passionate about cricket. He played in the C.K Naidu tournament and helped Jammu and Kashmir win a match by hitting a last ball six over Chetan Sharma. He hit an unbeaten 87 runs that day. Javed Miandad did it some years later to the same bowler. He was a complete all-rounder and one of the strong contenders to make it to the Indian Team. When he was not listed in any teams later and was made to face gross discrimination, he was enraged. Vivek Razdan was taken into the Indian Team in the same year but Sajad’s performance was never rewarded. It left him dejected.”
I asked him if cricket was a new thing to the family as a whole as it must have been a novel thing those days.
“Sajad did it all by himself. We did every possible thing for him to make him realize his dream.”
Shabir also told me about the memories with his late mother.
“As power shortage was a norm those days (today even, it is the same), Sajad had asked for a TV which could run on batteries. As our parents had decided to go to Saudi Arabia on pilgrimage the following year, they returned with the TV, only to fulfill a dead son’s wish. The TV is in his old room now where we have kept his trophies.”
Sajad was active about the politics as well and had given full support to the Muslim United Front in the 1987 rigged elections. He was also a JKLF sympathizer. As Shabir told me about the lack of electricity those days, I found it deeply relevant in today’s Kashmir as well- while I am arranging this story and punching the keys of my laptop, it’s 2:30 in the night and there is no electricity in my hostel. I extend the prospect of my eyes and I can see mountains overlooking Srinagar lit by powerful lamps. It’s for army bunkers. They need it more than I need it. It’s occupation.
Sajad’s parents died briefly after performing Hajj. His mother fell to a fatal injury on head which she suffered while mourning at Sajad’s death.
As I thanked Shabir and decided to head towards home, I was faced with thoughts of dejection. I was despondent. Am I still the jugular vein of dead men? Whose integral part am I? The opportunistic countries which never respected our culture and always harmed the mandate of a free and dignified Kashmir. In Kashmir, we call their policies as the ‘cycle of killings’. Some name it the ‘structure of violence’. Through our bloodstained memories, we see ourselves as the victims of cultural aggression. Our dignity and identity have been put to an unfathomable challenge, and after the suffering of almost six decades, the voice is defiant: Resolve Kashmir and stay in peace!

(Aarif Muzafar Rather is a freelance writer based in Kashmir. He is pursuing bachelors in Law from Central University of Kashmir.)
This story appeared in The Quint


JNU Protest, Media Hypes and the Things Thereof .

While I start writing this piece, I suffer a serious clampdown of choosing between things that I want to assemble and communicate to my readers. The clampdown is simple to express but hard to put together.

Students are being arrested for expressing ‘disgrace’ (sorry, I mean ‘dissent’), there is large scale witch-hunting, there is chaos, and state itself puts into danger the democratic principles and what not.

Their notion of nurturing students is meek: make them slaves! The general practice is that students are the pillars of a nation and they deserve their share in policymaking. It is believed that if teachers are the builders of a nation, students are its pillars; not conformists or spectators. Unfortunately, there is no such practice in our part of the world. It is simple: Teach hatred. Cherish ‘paranoia’ (sorry, I mean ‘nationalism’). Hold your view, even if it demands the breakdown of ‘rule of law’ or threatening the general democratic principles.

In this air of anxiety and tension, one gets to witness the different faces of media. Some conform to the traditional view while others tell the truth even if it means taking heavy toll. On a seemingly nationalistic Noise Hour (News Hour), one could read the headline “Accused in the Parliament Attack SAR Geelani arrested.” The thugs did not perhaps know that SAR Geelani was in fact acquitted by the Supreme Court in that particular case. One could also see a number of hash tags taking people to be traitors and anti-nationals. Whose traitor is (was) Geelani anyway? Also, when they label someone as a Pakistani, do they mean that being a Pakistani means being an alien?

Now I come to the point whether holding the event on the anniversary of Afzal Guru’s hanging was right or wrong. A lot of literature is available on the subject and I have myself written on the subject as well. What one comprehends after studying the subject is that Afzal Guru became the victim of “collective conscience” of a “pluralistic nation”. Whose conscience was it anyway? Was it the conscience of the goons who present themselves as Islamophobes? Presumably yes. After Afzal was hanged during the Congress rule, people called it a vote-bank decision. Congress however failed miserably to make mark in the following election and some politicians from the party itself called it a “mishandled” decision. While some called it a judicial error, others called it an instance of tyranny. The mainstream politicians in Kashmir could also be seen playing vote bank politics on the subject. And quoting the Supreme Court judgment,”As is the case with most conspiracies, there is and could be no evidence amounting to criminal conspiracy. The incident had shaken the entire nation and the collective conscience of society will only be satisfied if capital punishment is awarded to the offender.” What does the judgment convey? A riddle that failed to offer evidence?

I reason, I reason, what wrong did Kanhaiya Kumar, the students’ leader do?

P.S:  “Whatever is suppressed comes back in the form of disguise.” These are the smallest instances of youth retaliation. One day, we will have to answer the thousands of widows and orphans let down by the state structure.

©- Aarif Muzafar Rather

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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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