We are Kashmiris who live in India. Quite often, in hushed private conversations, we consider ourselves the most ill-advised of all Kashmiris. We have chosen to put our heads inside the mouth of India’s collective conscience and, eyes closed, hope not to lose them. It is a very charitable hope. We know very well that the hands of India’s collective conscience are always busy gathering morsels of people from the streets and fields of Kashmir.
These are elegantly put between its judicial and non-judicial lips. Two sets of teeth, leftist and rightist, with their identical bitingly radical incisors, sharp and witty canines and liberal molars and pre-molars masticate them well to make it easier for the collective conscience to digest them. Not so much as a burp escapes the collective conscience.
This too we know well, so living with our heads inside the mouth of the collective conscience, all of us are collectively hanging to hope by a rope much thinner than the one used to satisfy the collective conscience. It can hardly bear the weight of our fear.
But in our dark times, there are even darker times. When India’s collective conscience decides that it will be satisfied only if Kashmiris start to commit suicides, a blanket is lifted from our heart and we begin to shiver. So we want to convey through this open letter that we are not going to commit suicide. Neither in Kashmir nor in India.
We want to tell all those who are not prisoners of India’s collective conscience that If we die and it is made to look like a suicide, please hold India’s collective conscience responsible for it.
We want to live, even if we are straight, gay or lesbian and still want azadi for Kashmir, even if we are young women wearing jeans or a burqa or both and believe we have the right to give up any of them if we want to for our loved ones, even if we have a long beard and believe Islam is the best religion, even if we believe in democracy, rule of law and justice and find it nowhere in the world. We hope. A very charitable hope.