The last two weeks have been.. eventful. Popular support for Kashmiris’ demand for justice in the rest of India has long been overdue. However, in opposing the Sangh and its brand of violent fascist nationalism, the liberal left must take care not to, unwittingly, join hands with the very monster it is fighting, albeit in a different avatar.
The typical Kashmiri separatist is not very different from the Sanghi. He doesn’t tolerate any criticism of his Supreme Leader, or an ideology that doesn’t fall in line with his own when it comes to the affairs of J&K. Like the Sanghi, he comes up with the most brilliantly innovative insults for those who dare to disagree with him (Endian Dog being the most popular), and he always has the nicest things to say about your female relatives. As far as minority affairs are concerned, I daresay he has surpassed his Sanghi counterparts, as he completely denies the tragedies of Kashmiri Pandits who suffered at the hands of his heroes, the Mujahideen. His blood boils when an army man kills an innocent civilian but he goes into hiding when his ‘brave heroes’ do the same.
He is the epitome of male chauvinism and patriarchy who threatens teenage girl musicians, attacks girls participating in marathons, and abuses those studying outside the Valley. He berates Shah Faesal and Parvez Rasool, protests against Zubin Mehta concerts, and hates anything and everything even remotely Indian (except bollywood, of course). He protests against Israeli State Terror unleashed on Palestinians but celebrates when the ISIS beheads a Jew. He destroys public and private property and indulges in petty electricity theft while (somewhat justifiably) accusing ‘Endia’ of stealing the resources of, and the electricity generated in, his state.
And then there’s the Kashmiri whom nobody talks about. This person, like every other Kashmiri, is fed up with military rule in his homeland and the numerous atrocities that go unpunished year after year. He knows Afzal Guru wasn’t given a fair trial and would give anything to see firm justice dealt to the perpetrators of Kunan Poshpora, Gaw Kadal, Pathribal, etc etc, but he doesn’t believe that guns (or stones) are the means to that end. He sometimes wonders why no one talks about the assassinations of Maulvi Farooq, Abdul Gani Lone and Dr. Jalal, but he knows better than to ask such questions out loud. Most questions are anyway answered with bullets in the valley.
He’s concerned about his children’s education and his own livelihood, both of which get disrupted by everyday strikes called for by the Supreme Leader on every non issue. He is pelted with stones if he tries to drop off his daughter at her school on such a day, and is beaten up by armed goons of the State (also known as the CRPF) if he’s caught out buying milk or baby food for his son on one of the many consecutive curfew days. He’s the bystander who gets shot when the Police and CRPF open fire on stone-pelters. He wants demilitarisation, revocation of AFSPA, a safe healthy environment for his children to grow up in and basic freedoms and fundamental human rights to be provided to all citizens. But at the same time, he doesn’t want his homeland to turn into an Islamic Republic of Kashmir, where minorities are persecuted, women are suppressed and Asiya Andrabi and her gang of girls impose their notions of morality. His distrust of Pakistan and its valley-based stooges matches his resentment towards the Indian State.
The next time the good people of JNU organise a protest meeting in the memory of Afzal Guru or to show solidarity with Kashmiris, I hope they spare a thought for this other type of Kashmiri, the one who is caught between the guns and stones, whose voice gets lost in the cacophony of Azaadi and ‘Integral Part’, who doesn’t want ‘Geelani wali azaadi’ or ‘Burhan wali azaadi’. He wants a peaceful existence free from the shadow of the gun, in a land where his Pandit brothers can feel safe and Muslims and non-muslims, Shias and Sunnis, Kashmiris, Gojars, Dogras and Ladakhis can all live in peace. He dreams of the Kashmir of old, emanating wherefrom Mahatma Gandhi saw a ray of light during the darkest hours in the history of the Indian subcontinent, the Partition.